Tuesday

26th May 2020

Feature

Children? Only if state permits it, says Romanian mayor

  • Roma children in Romania - the EU state with the highest number of the minority group (Photo: Magne Haagen)

If you're planning to have children in one Romanian city, you might want to hold fire.

The mayor of the Romanian city of Targu Mures has said in a Facebook post that the state should screen would-be parents for proof of a stable workplace, financial resources, basic education and the legal minimum age required to care for children.

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  • Mayor Dorin Florea told media that 'gypsies are a serious problem in Romania. In my city, I have the largest number of gypsies in the country' (Photo: Dorin Florea Facebook page)

Children born into families that do not fit the criteria should be removed by the authorities, added mayor Dorin Florea.

"We don't need to boost demographics at all cost. In Romania there are many families bearing children only as a source of income (child benefits)", said Florea, who has been mayor of Targu Mures for the past 20 years.

When later asked to clarify what he meant, mayor Florea told the media that "gypsies are a serious problem in Romania. In my city, I have the largest number of gypsies in the country".

The statement irked civil society representatives, sparking controversy amongst national minorities who called in an open letter for the mayor's resignation.

A few hundred representing the local Roma minority organised a protest and voiced their anger over what they consider to be discriminatory comments by the mayor of Targu Mures.

Romanian senator, Vlad Alexandrescu, told EU observer that "it is unqualifiable in this day and age to have state officials who lack both vision in managing their communities and decency in their public comments."

However, the mayor remained unabated in his remarks, saying in a following Facebook post that he will not budge and "will not change a single comma in the statement regarding state regulating childbirth. I know what the real situation in Romania is, where you find 12 year-old mothers and children sent out to beg and steal and who end up sleeping in sewers and garbage dumps."

Asked by telephone by EUobserver whether the town hall authorities have any plans to locally enforce these recommendations, or if any such proposal has been submitted to the local council, Florea's spokesperson, Cosmin Blaga, said that the mayor's recommendations are aimed at the national legislation and ought to be implemented at national level - but that the mayor is also considering a local referendum to show support for the initiative.

Previously, the mayor's personal adviser, Claudiu Maior, had told media that a couple of people from Targu Mures had come out calling for a local referendum on the issue.

Maior also went on Facebook saying that "some people work and demand a referendum against those who want to lazy around and live off child allowance."

The National Council for Combating Discrimination, the Romanian anti-discrimination watchdog, fined Dorin Florea 10,000 Romanian leu [€2,100], considering that the mayor's comments represented hate-speech and infringed upon the right to dignity of minority groups.

The latest census data shows that around 700,000 Roma people live in Romania - the largest such community in the European Union.

The real number is believed to be much higher as many Roma people were reluctant to declare their ethnicity at the previous census.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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