BUCHAREST (AFP)---Romanian President Traian Basescu on Friday stressed the importance for his country to recognize its role in the Holocaust, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"Acknowledging the tragedy of the Holocaust which made millions of victims among Jews throughout the world and the tragic events for the Jewish community in Romania represents an essential element for the evolution and the maturity of a democratic nation", he said.
Between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died during the Holocaust in Romania and the territories under its control, according to a study by a commission of historians headed by Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel.
About 25,000 Romanian Roma were also victims of deportation and persecution under marshal Ion Antonescu's pro-Nazi regime, of whom 11,000 died.
"I express my solidarity with the Jewish people and my compassion for those who were sacrificed by a regime that legitimised, in Romania too, the exclusion and the persecution of Jews and Roma", Basescu stressed.
Bucharest had long denied its participation in the Holocaust until it set up in 2003 an international commission of historians led by Elie Wiesel and tasked with bringing to light this dark period of its history