As we have reported, anti-Hungarian statements made by Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis on April 29th shocked the approximately 1.2 million Hungarian community living in the country. The President showed his most primitive, aggressive and cynical side, unprecedented in Romania since the regime change, and for which the National Council for Combatting Discrimination fined him with 5000 RON (appr. 1000 euros), following complaints from several organizations, including the Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance.

A number of organizations from Transylvania also initiated legal cases against the President, because they considered that he was guilty of incitement. According to these organizations, the President incited the country’s population to hatred and discrimination, which is illegal. In a June 9th decision, prosecutor Elena Adriana Sandu ordered the case to be closed, on the grounds that – in her opinion – the statements made by the head of state do not violate article 369 of the Criminal Code (invoked by the denouncers).

The prosecutor determined that the President cannot be criminally charged, because the message of the statement made by Iohannis has to be considered from the perspective of free speech and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. However, while they did not charge the President, the transcript of the decision does make the following observation: “In our view, certain elements of the speech in question do go beyond the limits of free speech (even beyond the accepted forms of severe criticism), which is why, on the whole, also taking into consideration the tone, it may be qualified as hate speech.”

The speech by President Iohannis was strongly condemned not only by Hungarian organizations in Transylvania, but also leading German publications.

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