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International Day of Consciousness. Message from President Emil Constantinescu to the Conference organized by the Federation of World Peace and UNESCO, April 5-6, 2021

International Day of Consciousness was established on 25 July 2019 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 73/329 and celebrated for the first time on 5 April 2020. This is part of the sustained efforts of the United Nations and its subordinate bodies, such as UNESCO, to create living conditions that promote the stability and well-being of individuals, and to cultivate friendly relations between states, based on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, without discrimination on grounds of sex, gender, language or religion. This is the culture of peace.

President Emil Constantinescu’s message to the Conference organized by the Federation of World Peace and UNESCO, April 5-6, 2021

I think that when you invited me on International Day of Consciousness to take part in a debate on the creation of a “peaceful world enlightened by conscience,” you considered that I was one of the few survivors of the Second World War, which can testify directly to war as a violation of the right to life, and of totalitarian regimes as a total violation of freedom, two fundamental values ​​of universal human consciousness.

I was born in 1939, on the banks of the Dniester, then the border of my country, invaded by the army of the Soviet Union, following the pact with Nazi Germany. I went through two shelters, in 1940 and 1944. My first childhood memories are the corpses of those killed, the trains of the wounded and the suffering of those close to me. At the end of the shelter, the grandparents’ house was, after the airstrikes, a smoking ruin. Romania, which then had 16 million inhabitants, lost one million lives in the war. After the war, drought and famine followed. Then, the military occupation and the establishment of the communist dictatorship, in which hundreds of thousands of people were arrested and deported, many of whom were tortured and killed in concentration camps. In the second, softer part of the dictatorship, after the mass installation of fear, many gave in and became collaborators of the political police and will be blackmailed after the fall of the regime, with collaboration or prosecution files.

The communist regime collapsed four decades after its establishment, following peaceful demonstrations, violently attacked by military repression forces, which killed thousands of people, and thousands more were arrested and tortured.

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I became the first democratic head of state of Romania, after 60 years of successive dictatorships, royal, military, fascist or communist, with the support of former political prisoners, revolutionaries in December 1989 and pro-democracy demonstrators in 1990, being elected in following free elections, which were not contested by anyone, first of all, due to the fact that I was the rector of the University of Bucharest, the president of the National Council of Rectors of Romanian Universities and a civic activist.

I am proud that in my tenure there was no persecution, not even of former torturers of the political police, because their victims did not want revenge, proving that true national reconciliation can only be based on a pedagogy of suffering and forgiveness, but not forgetfulness.

I campaigned, as president of Romania, for a democracy and a free market economy, during a transition in which the population paid a heavy social price for economic reforms and European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

I am not too happy with what contemporary society looks like and I feel closer today to those who still suffer in different parts of the world from totalitarian regimes, wars and poverty, than to many of the citizens of advanced democracies or my fellow citizens who accept compromises. to advance in career or for money.

I have told you these things because I hope I can help, when we talk about conscience, to think, first of all, about how we organize our own life, in the spirit of moral values. It is not easy to live respecting the principles of morality, but I can tell them, especially to the young, how good you can feel in old age, if you have a clear conscience.

We now live in a world torn between an exceptional progress of science and technology, on the one hand, and a visible spiritual and moral degradation, on the other. Two millennia ago, the Greeks wrote on the pediment of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi “Gnóthi seautón,” “Know thyself.” I believe that the lack of solutions to the current global health, economic and moral crisis requires each of us to choose between “having” or “being”.

Our Institute for Advanced Study has promoted at the UN and UNESCO the “Levant Initiative for Global Peace” proposing, as a solution, for regions with open or frozen conflicts, in which communities with different national, ethnic or religious identities face each other in the same space, constituted throughout a long history, cultural diplomacy based on “understanding the other”. But I believe that an even higher goal would be to create a “culture of peace through education” that reconciles the past with the present and space with time. An education based on moral values ​​can create, for the world of the 21st century, a new arbitrage between power and knowledge, which will reconfigure a framework in which each individual can not only be, but also become.

It is, after all, the decision of each of us to contribute to the universal consciousness of humanity. “

Emil Constantinescu,

President of the Institute of Advanced Studies for the Culture and Civilization of the Levant

President of Romania 1996-2000



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