Romania's president slams 'ridiculous' antisemitism claim for refusing to appoint Jewish minister

Klaus Iohannis says politician Ilan Laufer's remarks are 'dangerous' and can incite hatred


Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has rejected allegations of antisemitism as “ridiculous and baseless” after he rejected the ministerial nomination of a Jewish politician.

Ilan Laufer, 35, who holds dual Romanian and Israeli nationality, accused Mr Iohannis of antisemitism after his nomination by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila was refused in a reshuffle in which the president also rejected another ministerial nomination.

“References to antisemitism and Nazism represent a dangerous action which can generate antisemitic and discriminatory manifestations and can incite hatred”, a statement published by the presidency said.

Mr Laufer also accused Mr Iohannis of promising German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try and block the proposed move of Romania’s Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He claimed the president, who is ethnically German, wants to have relations only with Berlin and to block relations with Israel and the United States.

“These antisemitic attacks on my behalf are all the more painful as 52 people from my family died during the Holocaust, in Romania”, Mr Laufer said.

He also attacked Mr Iohannis for his links to the German Democratic Forum of Romania, which Mr Laufer said was a successor to the German Nazi Party in Romania, vowing to file a complaint against the President with Romania’s National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD).

He would also ask the American Jewish Committee to withdraw the “Light unto the Nations” medal awarded to the Romanian President in June 2017.

But Alexandru Florian, the director general of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for Study of the Holocaust in Romania, said Mr Laufer’s statement “had a lot of political flavour and we should not worry”.

A statement by the Jewish Community of Banat, in western Romania, also branded Mr Laufer’s statement as “irresponsible”.

The centre-right President Iohannis is locked in a bitter cohabitation with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (PSD), which has governed Romania since January 2017.

Mr Laufer’s nomination as a minister in an earlier PSD government in June 2017, was accepted by Mr Iohannis.

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