President Klaus Iohannis strongly condemns the use of highly sensitive issues to a political end, underscoring that the references to anti-Semitism and Nazism in the political dispute are irresponsible and evince severe shortcomings of education, culture, diplomacy and historical knowledge.
The president’s specifications come after Ilan Laufer’s statements, who accused Iohannis of anti-Semitism, after the president refused to sign the former’s appointment as Regional Development Minister.
“Relativising anti-Semitism is a danger action that can generate anti-Semitic and discriminatory manifestations and can incite to hatred,” a press release of the Presidential Administration informs.
The president considers that Ilan Laufer “by deliberately appropriating a text with ridiculous accusations, without any real grounds, has failed the test of maturity, preferring to play the loudspeaker role of PSD [Social Democratic Party, ed.n.]’s toxic propaganda.
“The characters proffering such outrageous accusations automatically disqualify themselves and under no circumstance can assume such high positions in the Romanian state,” reads the release.
President Iohannis considers that these accusations represent “a new example of the long-standing harmful rhetoric of the Social Democratic party, which constantly fuels hate speech and xenophobic trends.
“It is unacceptable that the memory of the Holocaust be defiled with such attacks which serve petty interests and are meant to affect social peace,” the president maintains.
According to him, taking back the memory of the Holocaust, as well as combating anti-Semitism have been priority objectives for Romania in the last two decades and such statements of an extremist nature can endanger the very good results that our country has obtained in all these years.
“Romania is actively involved in the international demarches of combating anti-Semitism, a fact recognised and appreciated as such,” the Presidency’s press statement further shows.
President Iohannis has also pleaded ever since the beginning of his term for the creation of the Holocaust and Jewish History Museum intended “for a better knowledge of the culture of the Jewish community and for preserving the historical truth.”
“In June 2017, President Klaus Iohannis was awarded the “Light Unto the Nations” distinction, the most prestigious award granted by the American Jewish Committee. The decisive role of President Klaus Iohannis in consolidating democracy and the rule of law was thus acknowledged, as well as his sustained efforts to promote tolerance, combat anti-Semitism and xenophobia, and also for the strengthening of our country’s relations with the United States of America and Israel,” the Presidential administration further specifies.
Refused by President, Laufer accuses Iohannis of anti-Semitism: I’ll lodge complaint with CNCD
Ilan Laufer stated on Tuesday evening, at the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), that President Klaus Iohannis refused to appoint him as Development Minister out of anti-Semitism, accusing the Head of State that this gesture comes in a long line of anti-Semitic actions.
“My name is Ilan Laufer, from Romanian parents, born in Bucharest, at Polizu Maternity, not far from the seat of the Government of Romania. I have graduated in time, I performed in the private environment, I managed to attract over 400 million euro in Romania and contribute to the creation of many jobs. I have also performed in my mandate as minister at the Ministry of Business, Trade and Entrepreneurship, including through the Start-up Nation Program, by contributing to the law on prevention and the public-private partnership,” Laufer said.
Ilan Laufer stated that Klaus Iohannis’s decision to reject his appointment as Development Minister is unconstitutional and represents “a new act of anti-Semitism.”
Laufer said that the President also contributed to the sabotaging of the Romania-Israel joint Government meeting.
“I am worried about the real reasons behind my rejection, when he refused me as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, without motivating this decision, which is unconstitutional. I consider that the refusal of President Iohannis is, as far as I am concerned, a new act of anti-Semitism and I want to draw attention to the ongoing phenomenon of anti-Semitism demonstrated in the past year by President Klaus Iohannis”, Laufer said.
He claimed that the President has had “several outbursts against the Jews and anti-Semitism statements” and that he blocked the appointment of a Romanian ambassador to Israel, wishing “to sabotage” relations with that country.
Ilan Laufer stated that the Head of State contributed to “the sabotaging” of the joint meeting of the Israeli and Romanian Governments and that he wants “ties only with Berlin.”
“As it is known, Mr. Iohannis had several outbursts against the Jews and antisemitic statements. He refused and blocked the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, wishing to sabotage the relationship between Romania and Israel. I can also tell you that he has contributed to the sabotaging of a joint Gov’t sitting that was due to take place between the Israeli and Romanian governments,” Ilan Laufer stated during a press conference at the PSD central headquarters on Tuesday evening.
He added that Iohannis wants to block Romania’s relations with the U.S. and Israel.
“Mr Iohannis has promised Ms Merkel that he will do everything possible to block the relocation of the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a process initiated by President Liviu Dragnea as the first European politician who stated he will support this process after the American President announced he will relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (…) I have lately tried to contribute to a good relationship between the Romanian Government and the Government in Tel Aviv and at the same time to the consolidation of relations between Romania and the U.S., which has bothered President Klaus Iohannis very much and probably I must pay for this. (…) By refusing a person with very good relations with the U.S. and Israel, Iohannis is strengthening the conviction that he wants ties only with Berlin and the blocking of relations with the U.S. and Israel,” the ex-minister stated.
He said that the anti-Semitic attacks against him are painful even more so since 52 of his relatives died in the Holocaust in Romania.
“By refusing a person known to have very good ties with Israel and the U.S., Klaus Iohannis is strengthening the conviction that he wants ties only with Berlin,” Ilan Laufer insisted, adding that the “anti-Semitic attacks” against him are painful even more so since 52 of his relatives died during the Holocaust in Romania.
Ilan Laufer said that he is profoundly saddened by the attitude of the President, who does not want Romania to take over the presidency of the “European Council.”
Finally, Laufer said that he is asking the President to state the real reason for his decision to reject him, pointing out that it concerns the religious reason and the fact that he is a Jew.
Ilan Laufer said that Iohannis, who is an ethnic German, had “a suspicious connection” with the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania, “the inheritor of a Nazi organisation.”
“In Romania’s history, Ceausescu sold Jews. Today I have the certainty that President Iohannis also has sold a Romanian Jew. I don’t know to whom and for how much,” he added.
Laufer announced that he will lodge a complaint with the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) and will ask the Jewish community in the United States to withdraw the award they conferred upon Klaus Iohannis.
President Klaus Iohannis announced on Tuesday that he will not sign the decrees appointing Lia Olguta Vasilescu as Transport Minister and Ilan Laufer as Regional Development Minister, as proposed by the PSD.
Other reactions to Laufer’s statements
Orban on Iohannis’s refusal to appoint Laufer and Vasilescu: It shows responsibility
National Liberal Party (PNL) President Ludovic Orban stated on Tuesday, for MEDIAFAX, that President Klaus Iohannis’s refusal to appoint Lia Olguta Vasilescu as Transport Minister and Ilan Laufer as Development Minister shows responsibility.
“President Iohannis’s decision to refuse these nominations seems to be showing responsibility for the management of these important domains and the President’s desire that these important portfolios be held by people who have the necessary professional training, the managerial experience and the capacity to solve the grave dysfunctionalities in these domains. Transport and Regional Development, these are extremely important domains. There is an extreme amount of problems there for which a quick solution must be found. You can’t put [in office] some completely unqualified people who never had any connection with the domain, who lack the necessary professional training to take over the leadership of these ministries, because we are in the eleventh hour as it is, regarding the grave problems in this field, and brining some persons who are ignorant in those domains risks worsening even further the dysfunctionalities there,” Ludovic Orban stated on Tuesday for MEDIAFAX.
Asked for his comments on the fact that President Iohannis did not publicly substantiate his decision, the Liberal leader said: “I’m convinced he has reasons serious enough and he probably explained them. When he has the opportunity, he will probably present them publicly too.”
He added that he does not understand why Olguta Vasilescu, “the champion of pension reform,” is fleeing from the Labour Ministry.
“Likewise, I don’t understand why Lia Olguta Vasilescu, the great champion of pension reform, is fleeing from the Labour Ministry precisely when Parliament is debating the Pensions Law and other important legislative acts. In my opinion, Olguta Vasilescu’s flight from the Labour Ministry clearly shows PSD-ALDE’s lamentable failure in its ability to fulfil the electoral promises it made pensioners,” Orban concluded.
Basescu on Laufer’s statement: Horrible! Stop! You’ve gone too far!
Ex-President Traian Basescu states that Ilan Laufer’s statement is “horrible” and tells the members of the ruling power to stop because they have taken things too far. He proposes the signing of a “protocol of institutional collaboration.”
“Back to square one! I have seen ex-Minister Ilan Laufer’s statement from the rostrum bearing PSD’s logo. Horrible! The political battle between the Romanian President and Dragnea/Tariceanu, between the Romanian President and the Romanian Government, between the parliamentary majority and the Opposition, between the Justice Minister and the Prosecutor General, between those in the street and those in the Victoria Palace has gone too far, reaching accusations of antisemitism and high treason. Romania has simply become a country torn apart by political battles,” Traian Basescu wrote on his Facebook page.
He says that it is obvious that nobody selects the means anymore and the only objective is the destruction of the opponent in an insatiable race for power.
“Unfortunately, state institutions that are theoretically non-political have been drawn into the political battle, whether we are talking about security and judicial structures or institutions of economic decision. Unfortunately, at a time when the EU is transforming, NATO is transforming, alliances are changing or are being consolidated, the result of the local battles seems to be pushing things toward a political, social and economic disaster for Romania, which seems oblivious to what is happening around it. This comes from someone who has never refused a political battle: STOP! YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR! And as President Iohanis put it, BACK TO SQUARE ONE,” Traian Basescu wrote.
“Conclude a ‘Protocol of Institutional Collaboration.’ At least for the CENTENARY. Does this solution sound familiar to you by any chance?” Traian Basescu wrote, referring to the Protocol of Institutional Collaboration that he concluded with then-Premier Victor Ponta back when the was President.
Elie Wiesel Institute Director: Ilan Laufer’s statement is emotional, with significant political undertones and that’s all
Alexandru Florian, Director of the ‘Elie Wiesel’ National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, considers that Ilan Laufer’s statement, in which he accused the Head of State of antisemitism, is emotional, has significant political undertones and that is all, adding that President Klaus Iohannis’s attitude on the Holocaust has been recognised also through an award conferred by the American Jewish Committee.
“I believe that on one hand it is an emotional reaction on the part of Mr Laufer, and probably nobody was expecting, or very few were expecting, that his road toward a high public office would be suddenly stopped, so then he had this reaction which I believe is emotional. And, on the other hand, I believe the message is part of the high-pitched dialogue that has been taking place between the two Palaces for some time, because Mr Laufer on one hand admits that the President did not substantiate – at least not publicly – his rejection of the request, he did not present the real reasons, after which he says that he believes the refusal is allegedly due to an act of anti-Semitism – so it’s a construct, speculation on the part of Mr Laufer,” Alexandru Florian stated.
He emphasised that Klaus Iohannis’s attitude in what concerns the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Romania was recognised by the American Jewish Committee, an important American Jewish organisation that also conferred an award upon him last year.
“Paradoxically, both the Presidency and the Government are co-authors in the national project for the opening of the National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewish Community and of the Holocaust, the Romanian Government tasking us, the Elie Wiesel Institute, to implement the project. So, I consider this to be a declaration with a lot of political undertones and that is all, it should not worry us. As long as this statement is a political statement, made in a highly emotional state, I do not believe it has an impact,” Alexandru Florian pointed out.
Liberal leader: We summon PSD to firmly distance itself from Laufer’s accusations against Iohannis
PNL President Ludovic Orban stated on Wednesday that the accusations that Ilan Laufer has levelled against Klaus Iohannis must be censured because they affect Romania’s image. The Liberal leader summons the PSD to distance itself from Ilan Laufer’s statements.
“The astounding accusations that Ilan Laufer – the PSD fashion model whom Liviu Dragnea has nominated as Regional Development Minister – has levelled against Romanian President Klaus Iohannis are of unprecedented gravity and they must be publicly censured immediately. Using the terms antisemitism and Nazism in public discourse against the backdrop of the refusal to appoint an unsuitable person in public office represents the defiling of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and an impermissible insult toward the German community. Such statements, made from the official rostrum of the ruling party, gravely affect Romania’s image at international level and risk deteriorating our relationships with our strategic partners the European Union, NATO and the United States of America,” Ludovic Orban points out in a press release remitted to MEDIAFAX.
The leader of PNL summons the PSD to distance itself from the accusations that Ilan Laufer has levelled against President Klaus Iohannis.
“Ilan Laufer’s irresponsible statements are graver for the PSD even more so since they are not singular. Other party members such as Darius Valcov and Liviu Pop have uttered similar insults, and their case has entered the debate of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe where a resolution on the attacks against the German minority has been proposed. We summon the Social Democratic Party to abandon this rhetoric of ethnic hatred and xenophobia and to exclude Ilan Laufer from the ranks of its party members,” Orban added.
Likewise, the Liberal leader claimed that Ilan Laufer cannot hold a portfolio within the Development Ministry on account that he is “poorly trained.”
“The refusal to appoint him as Regional Development Minister has nothing to do with his ethnic background but only with his poor professional training and the incompetence he proved when holding an office within the Romanian Government. In fact, the PSD itself eliminated Ilan Laufer from the Government when the Tudose Cabinet was replaced, and PSD also gave up supporting him yesterday. Fashion model Ilan Laufer has no connection with the proposed office and cannot hold a portfolio that is so important for Romania’s development, such as the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, since he does not have the training, experience and managerial qualities required for this office,” Orban added.
Teodorovici: Either Iohannis is still wearing the coat of PNL politician or he has taken it off and is showing he can only be anti-Romanian
Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici stated on Tuesday evening that the lowest level has been reached when it comes to messages affecting Romania’s image, and some of them are actually issued by political leaders.
“Unfortunately, the Romanian people can bear a lot. The insolence and lack of respect for this people knows no bounds for some. I was wondering: either the President is still wearing the coat of PNL politician and has forgotten that he must no longer engage in politics, or he has taken off the coat of politician and is showing that he can only be anti-Romanian. With all due respect, I don’t like us having this kind of discussions. I can be more aggressive but having been in public administration since 1991, and having seen such things, I too have my limits, I’m trying to communicate, to impart tranquillity, communication, dialogue, but when you see such things…,” Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici stated on TVR.
One of the Finance Minister’s examples was the President’s statement that the Dancila Government should go home.
“How much nerve can you have? A Government elected by the people, by the Parliament, so on and so forth, should leave? And who should come? Ciolos with Ghinea, Pruna and others? What am I to understand from the President? With a man like Ciolos, who is fighting against Romania every day wherever he is on this planet? Unfortunately, the Romanian people can bear such behaviour for too long. I don’t know what the political reason would be except the one at the ballot box. Talking about an impeachment of the President is already too late, as moment and as role to be played, next year, at European level. I can only hope for a behaviour as proper as possible on the part of the President, and for as few statements as possible, verging on none,” Teodorovici added.
The Finance Minister added that he would also like to see arguments when it is said that Romania is not capable of holding the presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of next year.
Teodorovici made the statements against the backdrop in which Ilan Laufer stated on Tuesday, during a press conference at the PSD headquarters, that President Klaus Iohannis’s refusal to appoint him as Development Minister is an antisemitic act and announced that he will lodge a complaint against him with the National Council for the Combating of Discrimination (CNCD).
The Finance Minister claimed that President Klaus Iohannis should respond faster to the accusations levelled by Ilan Laufer.
“The President is very clearly proving that he is disarranging – intentionally, due to not knowing better or other causes – the agenda of the whole country, by refusing in this manner pertinent PSD proposals to replace fellow ministers, without offering arguments, beyond the Court’s decision, morally toward the vote cast by Romanians for the party, for the alliance, for the Government. It would be commonsensical for the President to respond to these fairly grave accusations. If confirmed, there are connotations that go beyond this country’s borders. We already are, without intention, party to an international dispute, it goes beyond this country’s borders,” Teodorovici stated on TVR.
Stefanescu on Laufer’s statements: It’s the speech of a very well-prepared man
PSD acting Secretary General Codrin Stefanescu stated on Tuesday evening that Ilan Laufer’s speech is the speech “of a very well-prepared man.” Laufer has accused Klaus Iohannis of antisemitism and has announced that he will lodge a complaint with the CNCD against the Head of State.
“It’s the speech of a very well-prepared man, highly respected domestically and internationally, on the way he sees things in a certain context. Had this been Klaus Iohannis’s first transgression, he could have said it is an exaggeration, but when things like these are happening, namely he said that the Premier and the House Speaker met some Jews, or when the PNL President lodges – on orders – a criminal complaint against the Premier. Such things are not left without consequences and reverberations. These things are not ignored at international level. I’ll tell you an effect. We were supposed to have a mixed meeting in October and the Israeli Premier informed us that after certain statements were made this meeting is postponed. For us as Romanians it would have given us positive image in the international environment,” Codrin Stefanescu stated on Tuesday evening on B1TV.
Asked how come Klaus Iohannis previously accepted Ilan Laufer as Minister for Business, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, in the Tudose Government, but has now refused him, the PSD acting Secretary General said that the topic of relocating the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did not exist at the time.
“Because the issue of relocating the Romanian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as our strategic partners from the United States have demanded, have already decided, has occurred in the meantime. (…) As PSD, we support Ilan Laufer. We made this nomination in a constitutional and legal manner. We have nominated several ministers, including Ilan Laufer, who was refused,” Stefanescu explained.