Romanian president to curb rights of ethnic Hungarians

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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wants to scrap long-standing rights of ethnic Hungarians, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) announced.

The statement, made in response to Iohannis’ protests filed with the Romanian Constitutional Court, was signed by lawyer and RMDSZ politician Attila Cseke, who was also minister of Health between 2009-2011 and Senate representative between 2008-2012.

According to Magyar Hírlap, Romania is about to adopt a new Code of Civil Administration where legal procedure requires that the Constitutional Court publish it beforehand and judge any constitutional complaints before the law comes into effect.

Iohannis filed a series of complaints against the passages of the new code which either reiterate or specify in more detail minority language rights. Minority rights remains a contentious issue in Romania, with 11.1 percent of the population belonging to ethnic minorities, with the four largest being the Hungarians, Roma, Ukrainians and Germans, according to the 2011 census. Iohannis himself hails from a Transylvanian Saxon family.

“In seventeen years no one has complained against the law stating that in any settlement where the proportion of minorities exceeds 20 percent, municipality counsellors are allowed to use their mother tongue,” Cseke wrote in the statement. He was part of the special commission which drafted the new Code of Civil Administration.

“These provisions have been adopted verbatim into the new code from the existing 215/2001 law – and are nevertheless attacked at the Constitutional Court by the President of the state, himself a member of a minority group,” the statement said.

He also said that Iohannis is attacking legal provisions that are also part of EU accords and international treaties ratified by Romania.

“Should the constitutional court curtail minority rights, it would throw Romania back into the 1990s,” the RMDSZ statement said.

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