By Ana Maria Luca
German officials and members of Romania’s small ethnic German community have protested strongly after several ruling Social Democrat officials called the country’s ethnic German president ‘a Nazi’.
Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party have come under heavy criticism from German politicians as well as cultural and business organizations after failing to punish several officials and ministers who recently called Romanian President Klaus Iohannis a Nazi.
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s state adviser, Darius Valcov, on Sunday night posted a picture on his social media account in which the logo of the anti-corruption #rezist movement was turned into a Swastika and President Iohannis made to look like Adolf Hitler.
On August 24, former Social Democrat Education Minister Liviu Pop said on a news channel show that Iohannis had led an ethnic German organization, the Democrat Forum of Germans in Romania, which he called “a Nazi organization”.
On August 23, Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu also slammed Iohannis for his criticism of the way the government handled the police intervention in the August 10 street protests. “As a German, you’ve got to have some guts to speak of gassing people,” she said.
The head of the German parliament’s European affairs committee, Gunther Krichbaum, told the Romanian news website Hotnews on Wednesday that it was “intolerable” for officials who made such statements to remain in government positions.
“This type of behaviour shows a shocking ignorance in terms of history,” he said. “Since Romania’s government did not distance itself in a clear manner from all of this, it seems reasonable to assume that they deliberately accept it, if they don’t even control it,” Kirchbaum added.
Romanian MP Ovidiu Gant who represents the German minority in the Romanian parliament, said on Wednesday in parliament that it was outrageous that Valcov was not immediately fired, and asked both PM Dancila and Social Democrat leaders to distance themselves from these statements.
The Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania on Tuesday said that it would officially notify the German government of the recent racist comments.
Although Romania was once home to about 800,000 ethnic Germans, migration during and since the fall of communism has led to a drastic drop in numbers. According to the latest census in 2011, only 36,000 ethnic Germans remain in the country.
Iohannis is the first ethnic German to become a president of Romania, in 2014. He has refused to comment on the statements.