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Greece to take over presidency of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Foreign Ministry says first term as head of IHRA, beginning next month, has ‘particular importance’; development comes as local mural about Jewish victims of Nazis is vandalized

A woman places flowers on a train wagon at the old train station in Thessaloniki, Greece, on the 74th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of its Jews to Nazi extermination camps during World War II, March 19, 2017. (Giannis Papanikos/AP)
A woman places flowers on a train wagon at the old train station in Thessaloniki, Greece, on the 74th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of its Jews to Nazi extermination camps during World War II, March 19, 2017. (Giannis Papanikos/AP)

ATHENS, Greece — Greece will assume the rotating presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance next month, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as yet another Jewish memorial was vandalized overnight.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said Athens would take over the IHRA presidency on April 1.

“We attach particular importance” to the event, he said, adding that Greece’s first-ever IHRA presidency would focus on education.

Anti-Semitism remains a problem in Greece, whose Jewish community was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust.

The central board of Jewish communities in Greece said a recently completed mural about the Jews of Thessaloniki, 50,000 of whom were exterminated in Nazi death camps, had been vandalized.

In October, several Jewish cemeteries and a Holocaust memorial had also been vandalized after the leaders of Greek neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn were jailed in a landmark trial.

Interior minister Makis Voridis in 2019 denied anti-Semitic beliefs after a prominent Greek Jewish official said he had a “dark past.”

A self-styled nationalist, Voridis said he had “never been an anti-Semite, though he had “coexisted politically with people who had such unacceptable ideas.”

He is one of at least three former prominent members of the far-right LAOS party to be given posts in the ruling New Democracy party.

Development minister Adonis Georgiadis is also a former LAOS cadre and lawmaker.

Greece has in recent years pursued close ties with Israel as a counter to regional rivals Turkey.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis — whose father first formalized relations with Israel as prime minister in 1990 — last month visited Jerusalem for a tourism deal.

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