President penalised over joke

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A Romanian discrimination watchdog on Wednesday fined President Klaus Iohannis over a remark seen as abusive toward the Hungarian minority.

Iohannis was handed a 5,000-lei (1,130-dollar) fine for suggesting that the Social Democratic Party (PSD) – his political foes – have arranged the handover of the Szekely Land, or Szeklerland, a region dominated by ethnic Hungarians, to Hungary proper.

Reacting to a bill handing wider autonomy to the region, he had uttered “good morning, PSD,” pronouncing the acronym with a heavy Hungarian accent. The bill was eventually knocked down.

He told the gformedia.ro news site that he would appeal against a “highly political” decision by the National Council for Combatting Discrimination (CNCD). The CNCD has 30 days to formally explain the sanction.

In December, Iohannis received a German award, the Charlemagne prize, for his support of minorities in Romania. Iohannis himself is of German ancestry.

Romania is heading towards regular parliamentary elections late this year or early in 2021.

Iohannis and his Liberals pushed for a snap election after the PSD lost power in November and went into opposition following a series of corruption scandals.

That, however, did not happen because of delay tactics by the PSD and then the coronavirus crisis. (dpa/NAN)

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