Romano Prodi at the Site of the Auschwitz Camp
Romano Prodi, head of the new European Commission, began his international travels with a symbolic visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Chairman wished to signal his interest in human rights and the protection of human rights at the outset of his term. According to Prodi, there is no more "clear and eloquent symbol than a visit to Auschwitz." He wrote in the guest book: "I am here today, at the beginning of my mandate as Chairman of the European Commission, to listen, to ask questions, and to remember.
"The Shoah took place before and during the war, and it was the result of baseness and injustice for which the countries and peoples of Europe bear differing degrees of responsibility, and for which we Europeans must beg forgiveness.
"The new Europe should become a Europe of acknowledged and respected rights; a Europe of free people in solidarity; a Europe that ensures that rights and justice are respected."