Moshe Kantor - President of ECTR (since 2015), Co-Chairman (2008-2014)
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor is the President of the European Jewish Congress and the President of the World Holocaust Forum. He was born on September 8, 1953, in Moscow, Russia.
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor is known for his extensive involvement in community life. Since 2005 he has been the Founder and President of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation (WHF), established following the Krakow Forum (2005). The Foundation's goal is to support Holocaust remembrance activities for the sake of preserving the historical memory of nations all over the world and preventing future tragedies. The WHF convenes "Let My People Live!" International Forums on a regular basis.
Since 2007 Mr. Kantor is the President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC); 2004-2007 - Chairman of the EJC Board of Governors. The EJC is a leading Jewish secular umbrella organisation that co-ordinates 40 national Jewish communities in Europe, encompassing 2.5 million Jews. The EJC's goal is to address the world's most pressing issues: protecting human rights, fighting xenophobia and anti-Semitism, promoting interfaith dialogue, implementing cultural and educational programmes, and remembering the Holocaust and other tragedies that claimed millions of human lives throughout the world.
Initiator and supporter of a pan-European programme for effectively counteracting the escalation of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism in Europe, and for fighting extremism and other threats to civilisation. The programme brings together various spheres, including education, culture and religion, and is endorsed by many political leaders and prominent institutions, such as the Council of Europe and the European Union.
In August 2010 Moshe Kantor has been nominated the Member of the Directorate of the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority "Yad Vashem" (official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust).
Kantor received the following government awards: Order of Friendship (Russia, 1998), Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit (Poland, 2005), Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine, 2006), Order of Leopold (Belgium, 2009), the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy, 2013) and Grand Cross of the National Order For Merit (Romania, 2014), Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France, 2014).
In addition, he received an honorary doctorate from Tel-Aviv University (2004); the Medal of Merit for Medal “Deserved for Tolerance” by the Ecumenical Foundation Tolerance (2011); and the European Jewish Leadership Award (2012).
Kantor has been recognized for three consecutive years as one of the '50 Most Influential Jews in the World'.
José María Aznar
José María Aznar is the former Prime Minister of Spain (1996-2004). He was born in 1953, in Madrid, Spain. He earned a Degree in Law from the Complutense University in Madrid.
In 1989, following the re-founding of the Partido Popular (PP), he was the PP candidate for President of the Spanish Government (Prime Minister). The following year he was elected Chairman of the party. He once again headed the list of PP candidates in 1993, 1996 and the year 2000. Throughout these four legislatures, he served as a MP for Madrid. Between 1989 and 1996 he was the leader of the Opposition.
He became President of the Spanish Government in 1996. Following the PP´s repeated success in the year 2000, Aznar was elected again. He held the presidency until the elections of 2004, at which he voluntarily stood down in favour of a new candidate.
Throughout his time as President of the Government, he led a significant process of economic and social reform. Liberalization and competition policies, budget control, and rational public spending and tax cuts created almost 5 million new jobs. During Aznar's time as President, Spain enjoyed its first two reductions in income tax since the advent of democracy.
He is the President of FAES (Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis). He is also a Distinguished Scholar at Georgetown University, where he teaches seminars on contemporary European politics at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is the Honorary Chairman of the Partido Popular, and Chairman of the Christian Democrat and People’s Parties International (CDI).
Erhard Busek is the former Vice-Chancellor of Austria and Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe since 2002. He was born on March 25, 1941, in Vienna, Austria. Erhard Busek received his law degree from the University of Vienna in 1963. During his studies, he also served as Chairman of the Austrian Youth Council.
He began his professional career 1964 as legal adviser to the association of parlamentarians of the Austrian People`s Party, he then served as Secretary General of the Austrian Federation for Trade and Commerce (1968-75). In 1975 he was appointed Secretary General of the Austrian People`s Party and elected Member of Parliament later that year.
In 1976 Dr. Busek entered municipal politics. He was City Councilor and after the elections in 1978, he won the seat of Deputy-Mayor of Vienna, a position he held until 1987. He was appointed Minister for Science and Research in April 1989. In 1994 until May 1995 Dr. Busek was Minister for Education.
Dr. Busek was elected Chairman of the Austrian People´s Party, 1991 and appointed Vice-Chancellor of Austria from 1991 to 1995. From March 2000 until December 2001 he was Special Representative of the Austrian Government for the Enlargement of the European Union.
From January 2002 he was Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, a position he covered until the handover of the mandate of the Stability Pact to the Regional Co-operation Council. Besides this function he is Coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), President of the European Forum Alpbach, Chairman of the "Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe".
Talât Sait Halman
Prof. Talât Sait Halman, GBE (born July 7, 1931 in Istanbul, Turkey; died December 5, 2014) was a famous Turkish poet, translator and cultural historian. He was the first Minister of Culture of Turkey. Since 1998, Professor Halman has been teaching at Bilkent University as dean of Faculty of Humanities and Letters
During his long and on-going academic career, Professor Talat Sait Halman has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University (1965–71) and (1972–80), the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, where he also served as Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. Currently he is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters at Bilkent University in Ankara, where he has been teaching continuously since 1998 when he helped found the program in Turkish languages and literature with a goal of introducing new critical approaches. Professor Halman received his B.A. from Robert College in Istanbul. In the mid-1950s he received his Master's Degree from Columbia University in Political Science, International Relations and International law.
Honors include Columbia University's "Thornton Wilder Prize" for lifetime achievement as translator, an honorary doctorate from the Bosphorus University, a Rockefeller Fellowship in the Humanities, the UNESCO Medal, and "Knight Grand Cross, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire". ).
In 1971 he served as Turkey's Minister of Culture (he was the first person ever to hold this cabinet post), and created the Ministry. While serving as Minister he coordinated the landmark first American tour in 1971 of the "Whirling Dervishes," who practice the ritual "turning" meditation of the tradition of Jelaluddin Rumi. In 1976 he oversaw the first American museum tour of historical and cultural artifacts from the Ottoman Sultans' palace. From 1980 to 1982 he was Turkey's first Ambassador for Cultural Affairs. Based in New York, he inaugurated a comprehensive program of Turkish cultural activities. From 1991 to 1995 he was a Member of UNESCO's Executive Board. He died in 2014.
Igor S. Ivanov
Igor S. Ivanov is a professor at Moscow State Institute for International Relations. Previously, he served as minister of foreign affairs, from 1998 to 2004, and secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation from 2004 to 2007. Ivanov holds the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He took part in the work of several U.N. General Assembly sessions, many international conferences, and in particular, co-chaired the Bosnia settlement talks in Dayton, Ohio. From 1991 to 1993, he represented the USSR and then Russia as ambassador to Spain.
Ivanov also worked as a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, USSR Academy of Sciences. He has a Ph.D. in history. He has published a number of books and articles on the history of Russian foreign affairs and foreign policy, which have been translated into many languages. He regularly attends political and scientific gatherings both in Russia and globally to speak on the most topical international issues. Ivanov has been honored with numerous Russian and foreign orders
Milan Kučan is the former first President of the Republic of Slovenia (1992-1997 and 1997-2002). He was born on 14 January 1941 in Krizevci, a village near the Slovenian-Hungarian border.
Milan Kucan embarked on his professional political career immediately after obtaining his degree in law. His reformist attitudes and commitment to democratic political principles had a great impact in Slovenia in the mid-eighties after his return from Belgrade where he faced great opposition and gained valuable political experience in the former Yugoslavian federal bodies.
As leader of the League of Communists of Slovenia he declared his commitment to open political dialogueimmediately upon assuming that position in 1986. He assured the citizens of Slovenia that he would do everything to expand the sphere of political freedoms and respect for human dignity. He supported the separation of the party from the state as well as political pluralism. Two years into his presidency, the Slovene political springtime came into full bloom in the shape of plurality and legitimacy of different political orientations, and foreign reporters wrote about Slovenia as an island of political freedom in the former political East.
Milan Kucan voiced his objection to national inequality and lack of democracy in the former Yugoslavia, as well as to those currents that were leading to states of emergency and bloody war. He did the same when therights of the Albanian ethnic minority and the autonomy of Kosovo were being defended. When the former Yugoslavia started turning into a danger zone threatening peace and security in Europe, he was seeking ways towards an agreement on the peaceful dismantling of Yugoslavia through the assertion of the right of nations to self-determination. He is a committed advocate of non-violent solutions. He proved this during the time when Slovenia itself fell prey to the aggression of the Yugoslav army, and managed to obtain political consensus for the Brioni Declaration, which was decisive for peace in Slovenia. Milan Kucan was leading Slovenia when the country made true its dream of independence and became a member of the United Nations.
Ever since 1989 when political pluralism blossomed with the founding of new political associations and parties in Slovenia, Milan Kucan has remained the most popular personality in Slovenia. In 1990 he was elected President of the Presidency of Slovenia - then still a former Yugoslav republic - and opted for suprapartite political action. He strove for the greatest possible consensus among political forces, as well as for national reconciliation. In 1992, in the first direct elections in the independent Republic of Slovenia, when he also stood as an independent candidate on the civil list, he was elected in the first round against seven opponents, winning 64 per cent of the votes.
Alfred Spiro Moisiu
Alfred Spiro Moisiu is the former President of the Republic of (2002-2007). He was born on December 1,1929, in Shkodër.
In 1979, Moisiu received a PhD in military science. From 1981 he was Deputy Minister of Defense until October 1982. In December 1991 he was appointed Minister of Defense in Vilson Ahmeti's technocratic government. He held that post until April 1992 when the first Government of the Democratic Party, led byAleksander Meksi, was formed.
The new executive invited Moisiu to work as a counselor to the Minister of Defense. Moisiu's advice was to concentrate the efforts to the reconstruction of the armed forces that were in bad condition, and to start preparations for joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). In 1994 he founded the Albanian North Atlantic Association and was elected as its president. On January 24, 1995 he signed an individual association treaty binding Albania with NATO's Partnership for Peace project. From 1995, Moisiu attended to the VIPs' courses of the NATO College in Rome.
When the Albanian Socialist Party came to power in 1997, Moisiu lost his post in the Ministry. In the following years, he took an active part in extra-governmental activity, organizing international and all-Albanian conferences where issues of security and defense in South East Europe, armament control and collecting arms from civil persons were discussed.
In 2002, under pressure from international organization, Moisiu was chosen as a consensus candidate for the presidency after the end of Rexhep Meidani's term. Moisiu was found fitting for that post since he was a researcher, was politically neutral, was known as an effective mediator (a quality much appreciated in Albania, which tends to inner quarrels) and had a decisive pro-Western and NATO orientation.
Moisiu was elected by the People's Assembly by a vote of 97 to 19 (with 14 abstentions) and he was sworn in for a five-year term as president on July 24, 2002.
After the constitutional reform of November 1998, politics is mainly the task of the government. Moisiu promised to contribute to the strengthening of parliamentary democracy, the stabilization of the judiciary system and the integration of Albania into Euro-Atlantic structures.
Göran Persson has been Prime Minister of Sweden since 1996 to 2006. He was born in 1949, in Vingåker, Sweden.
After having studied at the University College in Örebro, he embarked on a career in the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League. Thereafter he held several assignments within the municipality of Katrineholm, including as chairman of the Board of Education. In 1979, Göran Persson was elected Member of Parliament. After five years as an MP, he returned to Katrineholm as Municipal Commissioner.
Mr. Persson has said that his tenure as Municipal Commissioner gave him insights that became instrumental for his continued political activities. A key lesson was that society constantly evolves. As he said, “We will always face new challenges. People’s needs and demands grow and change all the time. Previous challenges return.”
The will to assist in improving Swedish society brought Mr. Persson back to Stockholm to take office as Minister for Education and Science. Between 1989 and 1991, he was responsible for matters relating to compulsory and upper secondary school education, vocational training and public education.
Mr. Persson was appointed Minister for Finance in 1994. One of his most important tasks as Finance Minister was to stabilize Sweden’s budget. Mr. Persson was elected Chair of the Social Democratic Party in March 1996.
Later that year, he became Prime Minister of Sweden. He was reelected in 1998 and 2002. Under Göran Persson’s leadership, the Swedish Government has pursed an active foreign policy aiming at promoting international peace and development. Mr. Persson remains strongly committed to, among other things, reducing unemployment, securing the quality of education, improving the integration of immigrants, protecting the environment and contributing to a world in peace and freedom.
Göran Persson’s was the initiator of The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust in January 26-28, 2000. The response to the Swedish Government’s initiative exceeded all expectations. During the conferences, Stockholm became a meeting place for politicians, decision makers and some of the world’s foremost experts on genocide and other crimes against humanity, as well as for representatives of a range of organisations. People who themselves survived persecution and violation, including during the Holocaust and the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia, also shared their own experiences.
Prof. Rita Süssmuth is former President of the German Federal Parliament and former Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Women, Youth and Health. She was born on February 17,1937, in Wuppertal, Germany.
In 2006 Prof. Süssmuth become the Chair of the EU High Level Group on 'Social Integration of Ethnic Minorities and their full Participation in the Labor Market'. She also joined the OECD Development Center Project 'Gaining from Migration' Advisory Board in Jan 2006. She was member of the Global Commission on International Migration, which presented a report to Kofi Annan in October 2005 called 'Migration in and interconnected World: New Directions for Action'. She is the President of the OTA-University in Berlin.
Prof. Süssmuth was Chair of the Independent Council of Experts on Migration and Integration, appointed by the German Government from May 2003 until December 2004. She is also a member of the Steering Committee, "Intercultural Conflict and Societal Integration" at the Social Science Research Center Berlin and holds a series of other assignments and memberships with national and international bodies. From 2000 to 2001, Prof. Süssmuth presided over the ‚Independent Commission on Migration to Germany' which resulted in the July 2001 report on ‚Steering Migration and Fostering Integration'.
Prof. Süssmuth has a long distinguished political and academic career. She held several senior positions including Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Member of the German Federal Parliament. She has also been Director of the Research Institute "Woman and Society" and Professor of International Comparative Educational Science at the Universities of Bochum and Dortmund.
In 2006 she was awarded the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Reform for her courageous and far-sighted HIV/AIDS politics whilst federal minister. In addition, she currently sits on the Advisory Board for the German Foundation for World Population.
Vilma Trajkovska is the former First Lady of the Republic of Macedonia and the widow of the late Boris Trajkovski, who was the second President of the Republic of Macedonia from 1999 to 2004.
Currently, she serves as Director of Publication Services of the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. She is also the Founder of VITRA, a non-profit and non-governmental foundation established in Macedonia in 2001 aimed at affirmation of women and their role in the comprehensive development of society. As the former First Lady, Mrs. Trajkovska played a dynamic role in Macedonia, serving as hostess to the wives and spouses of visiting foreign dignitaries, representing Macedonia abroad on trips with her husband, and hosting and attending various conferences and forums in Macedonia and abroad.
She was a patron of the International Conference “Women in 21st Century” held in 2002 in Ohrid which focused on the role of women in the development of democracy in South East Europe.
Mrs. Trajkovska is the Founder of the Boris Trajkovski International Foundation.
Georgios Vasos Vassiliou
Georgios Vasos Vassiliou was the third President of the Republic of Cyprus from 1988 to 1993. He was also the founder and leader of the Cypriot United Democrats party (EDI) and a highly successful businessman.
He was elected president as an independent candidate with support from AKEL in 1988, succeeding Spyros Kyprianou, who had served two presidential terms. During his time in office, Cyprus experienced economic growth and he was responsible for a number of reforms including stopping the police practice of keeping files on Cypriot citizens' political beliefs. He worked towards a negotiated solution to the Cyprus dispute based on the Ghali set of ideas, although the dispute remained unresolved by the time he left office in 1993.
After he lost the 1993 elections to Glafkos Klerides, he founded the Free Democrats Movement and he was elected president of the party. He was elected member of the Cypriot Parliamient, while his political party won two seats (out of 56) in the Parliamentary Elections in 1996. The same year the party was merged with the political party ADISOK and formed a new party United Democrats.
He elected as well president of United Democrats and remained president until 2005. In the Parliamentary Elections of 2001 his party lost one of its seats and he wasn't re-elected. Following the Cyprus referendum of 2004 in which he was a strong supporter of the Annan Plan he resigned from the presidency of United Democrats.
He has also served as Chief Negotiator for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union from 1998 to 2003.
Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is the former President of the Republic of Latvia (1999-2007). She was born on December 1, 1937 in Riga, Latvia.
Since 1957, she has been actively engaged in community service, focusing on questions of Latvian identity and culture, and the political future of the Baltic States.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga has held prominent positions in national and international scientific and scholarly organisations, as well as in a number of Canadian governmental, institutional, academic and interdisciplinary committees, where she acquired extensive administrative experience. Recipient of many medals, prizes and honours for distinguished work in the humanities and social sciences.
In June 1998 she was elected Professor emerita at the University of Montreal and returned to her native land, Latvia, where on 19 October the Prime Minister named her Director of the newly founded Latvian Institute.
On 17 June 1999, Vaira Vike-Freiberga was elected President of the Republic of Latvia by the Parliament (Saeima). In 2003 she was re-elected for a second term of four years with 88 votes out of 96.
She has actively exercised the powers conferred to the President by the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and has played a leading role in achieving Latvia’s membership in NATO and the European Union. Invited speaker at numerous international events. Outspoken pundit on social issues, moral values, European historical dialogue, and democracy, she was awarded the 2005 Hannah Arendt Prize for political thought.
Member of the Council of Women World Leaders since 1999. Regularly invited participant to the World Economic Forum (Davos), and to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Achievement since 2000.
Since 1999, she has received many medals and awards, twenty-seven Orders of Merit and ten honorary doctorates. Three biographies about President Vaira Vike-Freiberga have been published in Latvian, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Finnish and Russian.
She is active in international politics, was named Special Envoy to the Secretary General on United Nations reform and was official candidate for UN Secretary General in 2006.
She remains active in the international arena and continues to speak in defense of liberty, equality and social justice, and for the need of Europe to acknowledge the whole of its history.
She is a well-known pro-european, as such, in December 2007 she was named vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long term future of the European Union. She is also known for her work in psycholinguistics, semiotics and analysis of the oral literature of her native country.
Aleksander Kwaśniewski - ECTR Chairman (2008-2014)
Aleksander Kwaśniewski is the former President of the Republic of Poland (1995–2005). He was born on the 15th November 1954, in Białogard, Poland.
He participated in the famous “Round-Table” negotiations in Poland that finally brought the peaceful transformation of Poland and the whole Central and Eastern Europe from communism to democracy. A co-founding member and first chairman of the Social Democratic Party of the Republic of Poland. Long – standing supporter of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, Aleksander Kwaśniewski inspired the international mediation efforts during the 2004 Orange Revolution, helping the young democracy in Ukraine to prevail.
During his Presidency, he courageously confronted the past, significantly contributing to the reconciliation between Poles and the German, Jewish and Ukrainian people.
On March 7, 2006, Kwaśniewski was appointed Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership at Georgetown University, where, as a visiting faculty member, he teaches students in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service about contemporary European politics, the trans-Atlantic relationship and democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. He is also i.a. member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, member of the Atlantic Council of the United States, member of the Bilderberg Group, Head of the Supervisory Board of the Amicus Europae Foundation in Warsaw and International Center for Political Studies in Kiev, Head of the International Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, Head of the Board of Yalta European Strategy.