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Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric Former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

In 2013-2014 individual cases of anti-xenophobic rhetoric of the authorities were recorded. On March 9th, 2013, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta told a Hungarian TV channel that he supports the decentralization of power and the subsequent provision on this basis, administrative, economic and cultural autonomy of the Romanian Hungarians. However, it was not about creating a united Secuiesc region, as demanded by Hungarian politicians, and to grant autonomy to individual counties.

On April 25th, 2013 Victor Ponta issued a statement that the integration of the Roma in Romanian society is one of the key problems of the country. Romanian government minister Dan Sova, who had previously stated that there was no Holocaust in his country, on the 28th of January said that the visit to the museum of the Holocaust in the United States “will always be” with him. “I express the fullness of my sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust and to the families of those who have suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime and I feel obliged to direct my efforts to combat anti-Semitism” - he wrote in his letter to the Jewish community.

Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Koreltsyanu in December 2013 condemned the anti-Semitic carols broadcast on television.

On January 31, 2014, President of Romania Traian Basescu criticised the position of the German Christian-Socialist Union party, which demands to tighten the measures regarding migrant workers from the Balkans. According to the President, they have the same rights as other EU citizens and should not be exploited in populist campaigns. “Romania entered the EU together with Gypsies and there were no norms that would limit the rights of this minority in the agreement signed between our State and the EU… of course, they are very visible, they ask for money, food, they annoy people. Perhaps, they annoy people more than a banker, who makes tens of millions that then disappear form the bank. Bankers do not irritate anyone, but then the government has to pay them billions, as it was during the recession”.

On March 12, Traian Basescu asked the Parliament to recognise the Hungarian nationalist party “Jobbik” as extremist and ban its activities in Romania. This is an extremist party that has no regard for united Europe. I think it is time to put an end to its activities on the territory of Romania.” In his opinion, democratic forces in Europe should react to the growth of the far left and the far right extremism and neo-fascism, citing the National Front in France, led by Marine Le Pen, and the Greek extreme right Golden Dawn party.

On December 24, 2014, it was reported that President of Romania Klaus Iohannis said that Romania’s membership in the EU and NATO directly implies the absence of any territorial claims towards another state, therefore the issue of territorial claims to Ukraine is no longer on the agenda. Victor Ponta, head of the Romanian Cabinet, commented on Basescu’s New Year’s speech about the need to join with Moldova, noting that “Basescu’s reckless statements about the unification of two states could only hinder the rate of Moldova’s European integration and bring the oppositional communists to power in the future elections”.

On February 25, 2014, Romanian Ministry of the Interior criticised the abolition of the Law on Languages in Ukraine. “In the context of the abolition of the Law on State Language Policy by the Ukrainian Parliament on February 23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses deep concern with the possible deterioration of rights of ethnic minority citizens.”

Ministry’s statement said that Kiev must “maintain the level of protection of national minorities in order to keep true to its European path.”

On July 15, leader of the moderate Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania Hunor Kelermen announced his resignation as Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, expressing dissatisfaction that Romanian authorities were unwilling to meet his bill on the protection of national minority rights.

On November 1, MP Eugene Tomak said that residents of Gaugazia must not fear unification with Romania, since Romania is a diverse country with different peoples who are able to preserve their languages and cultures.

There have been some unfounded allegations of xenophobia. On September 9, Prime Minister Viktor Ponta compared President Basescu’s 10-year government to the “consequences of Nazi regime in Germany.” He told Antea3 TV that Romanian society will need to recover from Basescu’s rule. He heavily criticised President’s position regarding the unification of Romania and Moldova. President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, Aurel Vainer, called Ponta’s statements “a huge political mistake”. He said that Ponta’s comparison of Basescu’s rule to the Nazi regime were incorrect and extremely exaggerated and noted that modern Romania is a democratic and parliamentary state.

In January 2019, speaking at the plenary session of the European Parliament on the Romanian Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2019, Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă stated that the EU, including Romania, must resolutely deal with a number of problems, that some societies within the Union still face, such as racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism, anti-Semitism or hate speech.

In June 2021, speaking at a parliamentary session dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the memory of the victims of the 1941 Jewish pogrom in Romania, Prime Minister Florin Chitu, recalling the "unimaginable suffering, cruelty and savagery" inflicted on the orders of the pro-Nazi Marshal Ion Antonescu, said: " We, as a nation, must openly admit that our past has not always been glorious... About 15,000 victims, almost a third of the Jewish population of Iasi, were killed in what historians call "one of the most documented massacres of the Second World War" On June 29, 1941, thousands of Jews were taken to the Iasi police station, where they were beaten and humiliated by the Romanian police and civilians.They were then shot to death by army troops.7,000 to 8,000 survivors were crammed without water into two "death trains" consisting of pressurized, overheated freight wagons, where b Most of them died of asphyxiation." “By commemorating this massacre, the worst in modern Romanian history, Parliament is laying the groundwork for reconciliation based on truth,” said Alexandru Muraru, senior government spokesman for combating anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

In June 2021, speaking at a government meeting to launch the National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia, Radicalization and Hate Speech 2021-2023, Head of the Prime Minister's Office Mircea Abrudyan stated that the executive branch is fully committed to combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech and the successful implementation of the National Strategy is a priority.

“The National Strategy for Preventing and Combating Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia, Radicalization and Hate Speech is an important tool, especially in the current environment, when we can see the rise of conspiracy theories and revisionist ideas, as well as the spread of anti-Semitic, racist or xenophobic messages, especially on the Internet,” he said.

Special Representative of the Romanian Government for Promoting the Policy of Remembrance, Combating Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism, Alexandru Muraru stressed that Romania needs to be fully informed about the extent of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and radicalization in Romanian society at the end of the implementation of the National Strategy. At the same time, he mentioned that in the future there will be meetings between the Prime Minister's Office and representatives of the diplomatic corps, as well as between representatives of institutions and structures with powers in this area.

Secretary of State Irina-Dumitritsa Solomon stated that the National Strategy should not remain only a discourse target and reaffirmed the importance that the Government of Romania attaches to the implementation of the National Strategy, especially when coordinated by the Prime Minister's Office. The Secretary of State also stated that the implementation of the 36 activities of the Plan associated with the Strategy depends on the degree of participation of all responsible parties.

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