CHISINAU, Moldova, July 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization founded in 1906 after vicious pogroms in Tsarist-ruled Kishinev, marked its 110th anniversary during a visit to the Moldovan capital.
The trip was highlighted by private meetings with President Nicolae Timofti, Prime Minister Pavel Filip, and Speaker of the Parliament Andrian Candu, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Lilian Darii.
The 29-member delegation was led by AJC President John Shapiro and CEO David Harris, and included Harriet Schleifer, Chair of AJC's National Board of Governors, Matthew Bronfman, Chair of AJC's Board of Trustees, and Allan Reich, Chair of AJC's National Policy Commission, as well as members of the agency's National Board of Governors and regional boards from across the country.
U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova Jim Pettit, a longtime friend of AJC, hosted the group for a reception, attended by numerous diplomats and community leaders.
Among the principal topics of discussion during the visit were: (i) strengthening bilateral links between Chisinau and Washington; (ii) deepening the Republic of Moldova's ties with Israel, including cooperation at the UN; (iii) the government's ongoing efforts to promote economic growth, attract investment, and implement judicial and other reforms; and (iv) regional security challenges.
"110 years after AJC was founded following the deadly pogroms in what was then known as Kishinev, it was particularly moving for us to meet with officials of the Republic of Moldova, which is today an important partner for both the U.S. and Israel," said Harris, who has visited the country several times. "In our meetings, we heard repeated declarations against anti-Semitism, as well as support for the local Jewish community."
"Moreover, we applauded the government's efforts, as it prepares to celebrate next month 25 years of independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union, in seeking to chart its own destiny and pursue a closer connection with the EU."
During the visit, President Timofti presented Harris with the country's Order of Honor award, paying tribute to AJC's longtime friendship with the Republic of Moldova. Harris is the first American Jewish recipient of this prestigious recognition.
The visit was organized in close coordination with the Jewish Community of Moldova, with which AJC signed a partnership agreement in 2014. AJC now maintains 32 such associations with Jewish communities around the world. Alexander Bilinkis, President, and Emmanuil Grinshpun, Chair of the Board of Trustees, accompanied the delegation to all the meetings.
The group was also joined by Faina Kukliansky, President of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. An AJC delegation last visited Vilnius in January and met with the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister. It also then signed an association agreement with the community.
The AJC delegation participated in two moving memorial programs during the mission that were organized by the Jewish Community of Moldova. The first took place at the memorial for the victims of the 1903 pogrom. The second ceremony focused on the tens of thousands of victims of the Holocaust in Moldova, and was attended by a number of government officials, including the Minister of Culture, who addressed the crowd.
The visit to Chisinau concluded with a gala dinner hosted at the Jewish Community Center. Attendees included: the city's mayor, who is a signatory to AJC's Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism campaign; several members of Parliament; and senior diplomats from Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, European Union, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, OSCE, Romania, Sweden, and the U.S.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee