President Klaus Iohannis has sent a message on the occasion of August 23, a day with double significance for Romania.
“More than a century from the first totalitarian regimes, now we can say, without doubt, that no utopia has proved bloodier than fascism and communism. The regimes with such ideologies, opposite to liberalism and democracy, have had major consequences on the political development of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The lives of millions of people were destroyed. In the attempt to build a new man, using policies which targeted the human condition and the building of societies exclusively based on terror, the two regimes have left behind millions of victim, to which we express our gratitude and compassion,” the message from the head of state reads.
The message further reads that the victims of totalitarian regimes should be commemorated continuously and that forgetting the victims of fascism and communism and falsifying history represent serious blows against humanity.
“August 23 is a fatidic date in Romania’s history. The sharing of spheres of influence in Europe, following the signing, on August 23, 1939, of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact has led to territorial loses in 1940 and has brought the totalitarian calamity that lasted for decades. The years of dictatorship have led to Romania’s economic and social stagnation, with obvious effects on Romanian society and on the transition to democracy,” President Iohannis says.
The head of state underlines that this year we celebrate 100 years since the establishment of the Romanian national unitary state. “Today the temptation of iliberalism is extremely high. We need to do our duty as responsible citizens and combat any extremist tendency which could turn us away from the European values and principles. We have noticed, lately, a series of attacks meant to weaken the Romanian democracy. We can’t afford to give up the commitments assumed for European Union integration and the return to practices of the communist regime. Let’s not forget that, during the dictatorship, the destruction of civil society, the annihilation of political pluralism and of the fundamental rights meant, in fact, the systematic destruction of the rule of law.
The current generation needs to remain active in the struggle to defend democracy and the rule of law, to pay homage to those who made possible today’s Romania and to act, vertically and in good faith, for the strengthening of institutions and the external consolidation of the Romanian state.
May the memory of the victims be forever in our hearts!” the message concludes.
August 23 – Double major significance for Romania
On August 23, 1939 in Moscow, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed; it was a non-aggression treaty between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, one of its consequences being the occupation of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Hertza region (what is currently more or less the Republic of Moldova) by the Soviets.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact, or the Nazi German-Soviet Pact of Aggression was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on August 3, 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively.
The pact delineated the spheres of interest between the two powers, confirmed by the supplementary protocol of the German-Soviet Frontier Treaty amended after the joint invasion of Poland. It remained in force for nearly two years, until the German government of Adolf Hitler ended the pact by launching an attack on the Soviet positions in Eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941.
Following the protocol, the USSR sent an ultimatum to Romania on June 28, 1940, with only 48 hours in hand to evacuate Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, threatening with war if conditions are not met. Romania ceded without fight the territories and the Soviet troops occupied the mentioned territories and also the Hertza region, not mentioned in the ultimatum.
Romania entered the war in June 1940 alongside Germany and in 1941 Bessarabia returned to Romania for three years; after 1944 it became part of the USSR.
The second significance is related to August 23, 1944, when Romania joined the Allies in the World War II, turning weapons against Germany, following a decision coordinated by King Michael I and the arrest of national ruler Ion Antonescu.
The USSR awarded King Michael I the Victory Medal, but in December 1947 they forced him to abdicate and leave the country.
The event was seized by the communist party in Romania, claiming the shift had been made under its coordination. August 23 was the national holiday of Romania until 1990.
The decision on August 23, 1944 cut short the WWII by six months, according to most world historians, and it facilitated the return of northern Transylvania (ceded to Hungary following the Vienna Diktat) to Romania.