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Xenophobic Rhetoric

Xenophobic Rhetoric Former Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Most xenophobic statements were made by government officials and politicians regarding the conflict between Romanians and the Hungarian minority, who are keen to gain autonomy. On July 4th, 2013, President of the National Council of Hungarians in Transylvania, MEP from ethnic Hungarians residing in Romania Laszlo Tokes threatened that if the Romanian authorities will implement a plan for the division of the population of regions populated by Hungarians, the Hungarians will take to the streets. On July 24th, 2013 L. Tokes speaking at the annual summer university taking place in Baile Tusnad (Transylvania, Romania) said that in exchange for Hungarian territories lost as a result of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, the Hungarians of Transylvania have the right to demand “limited self-identification” and a Transylvanian autonomy in Romania. He also appealed to the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban with a call to take Transylvania under Hungarian protectorate following the example of South Tyrol in Italy.

In response to these statements in a July 25th, 2013, broadcast on TVR Romanian President Traian Basescu said: “I think there will never come a time when Hungary will express their opinion on what the administrative organization of Romania should be. Hungary has sufficient serious problems on its own. It should solve them. So, any statement of this kind is meaningless”. Also, the Romanian president said that regionalization of Romania cannot be sacrificed in the interests of the minority. “We must find a solution. (...) In this country, 22 million people reside and only 1.5 million are Hungarians. Interests of the majority cannot be sacrificed, as well as the interests of the Hungarian minority should not be subordinated to the interests of politicians”, - said the president of Romania.

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on July 31st, 2013, that the statements made by Laszlo Tokes about need to establish a Hungarian protectorate over Transylvania are “not only irresponsible and offensive, but also are actual criminal offenses”. Ponta said that Romanian Justice should also look into applications expressed in Baile Tusnad. “It has to see whether these things happen in a country that respects itself, in a European country”, - summed up the Romanian Prime Minister.

In response, Tokes advised Ponte “to ask yourself of what sovereignty the country which he manages is, after he almost passed her over to the International Monetary Fund”. Tokes added that “Transylvanians are tired of Transylvania being managed by Bucharest as some colony. At the same time, President Traian Basescu called Hungary a “hotbed of instability in the region”. “I guarantee that Iwill not let an ethnic autonomous province to be re-established in Romania “, - the president promised.

On April 2, 2014, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that he opposes granting territorial autonomy on ethnic grounds, considering the Romanian Hungarians' statements on autonomy as merely pre-election propaganda rhetoric. On September 19, he announced again his refusal to support the bill on the autonomy of the Sekoy region, believing that Romanian Hungarians are trying to secede from Romania by the Kosovo model. Ponta declared his readiness together with the Hungarians to move towards "decentralization", but "there is a border that can not be crossed."

On the other hand, on July 29, 2014, the leader of the Hungarian separatists in Romania, Laszlo Tokes, called on the Hungarians to fight for independence from Romania. He said that now the best time for the Romanian Hungarians to fight for their own independence. Tokesh believes that the Hungarians in Romania are oppressed and if they do not take action now, in the near future they will completely dissolve among the Romanians and the Hungarian community in the country will be impossible to restore.

In early December, 2013, on TV channels TVR3 and TVR Cluj demonstrated anti-Semitic Christmas carols performed by the ensemble “Transylvanian love” (“Dor transilvan”) from the Romanian city of Cluj. In carols the word “Jew” was repeatedly used in a derogatory sense and kept wishing massacre of the Jews as a group, that doesn’t honor the Christian faith. When the decision on the appointment of fines to channels for showing anti-Semitic Christmas carols, a member of the National Council for the audiovisuals in Romania opposed the sanctions, failing to see “violations in ensuring pluralism and respect for human rights” in the carols.

Employees TV channels said that the carols were chosen by the “Center for preservation and Development of Traditional Culture of Cluj”, notifying the local mayor’s office in advance.

On January 15, 2014, President Traian Basescu said that the “restoration” of Romania and Moldova must be the “third national project of Romania, after joining NATO and the EU”. President also said that he intends to pursue this goal after the end of his term.

President of Romania awarded five Moldovan MPs for “large personal contribution towards the recognition of Romanian language as an official language in Moldova”.

On March 19, 2014, President Basescu met with his Moldovan counterpart, Nikolae Timofti, and supported the unionists by saying, “Bessarabia is Romanian soil!” On March 27, Romanian President called to “do everything we can” to achieve unification with Moldova. “We must not forget that Bessarabia was the first province that in 1918 took the step to join Great Romania. Today we are divided into two states, but we are one people”.

On May 14, 2014, President of Romania said that Romania will do everything possible to increase the number of people in Moldova who support unification with Romania. On May 19, Traian Basescu during a presidential debate in the Romanian city of Iasi said: “Regarding the Republic of Moldova I would like to repeatedly express my opinion that we cannot envision this country as an ordinary state. It is a second Romanian state”, thus depriving the Moldovans of the right to be called a separate nation.

Basescu followed suit on October 30, 2014. He noted that he is prepared to eliminate Moldovan statehood, despite international criticism and added, “Deep in my soul, I want the unification of Romania and Moldova, because I don’t abandon the idea that we are a single nation living in two independent countries. However, the unification cannot be done through deceit or by force. It can only happen if Romanians on both banks of the Prut want to unite.”

On June 27th, 2014 at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg from 23rd to 27th of June, Romanian parliamentarian Viorel Badea told the president of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko that “Moldovan language does not exist in the list of regional languages.” Presidential election campaign in autumn brought up discussions about the unification of Romania and Moldova. On September 16 and 22, Victor Ponta supported this idea (and promised to implement it by 2018). On October 22, his opponent, Klaus Iohannis, made similar statements, motivating this with the need to protect Moldova from Russian aggression. On the same day, the same sentiment was expressed by President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu.

Several political statements were related to the conflict between Romanians and the Hungarian minority that is seeking national autonomy. On April 2, 2014, Prime Minister of Romania Viktor Ponta stated he opposes the granting of territorial autonomy on ethnic basis, considering the appeals of Romanian Hungarians an electoral propaganda. On September 19, he reiterated his opposition to the Szekely Land autonomy bill, saying that Romanian Hungarians are trying to follow the Kosovo model and leave Romania. Ponta expressed willingness to negotiate “decentralisation” with the Hungarians, but added that there is a “line that cannot be crossed”.

On the other hand, on July 19, leader of Hungarian separatists Laszlo Tokes urged Hungarians to fight for independence from Romania. He stated that it is the best time for Romanian Hungarians to fight for their independence. Tokes believes that if they do not take measures right now, then soon they will dissolve among Romanians.

In addition, AdevaruLive published an interview with Traian Basescu on March 16, where he called the Gagauz people “Moldova’s Tatars”. He added that the recent referendum in Gagauzia was organised the same as the one in Crimea – “Crimean Tatars were sent to Siberia, while Tatars from Moldova were well-treated and it was Romanians who were sent to Siberia.”

Host of a “Censorship Attack” television programme accused Mayor of Baia-Mare of not being an Orthodox Christian, given that here parents were Catholic.

A popular newspaper Gandul published an article in September that depicted all Paris Roma as criminals.

In early November, 2014, Ambassador of Romania to Armenia Vasile Sorin made a speech at the American University of Armenia riddled with homophobic and anti-Semitic statements.

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