BERLIN — A German lawmaker has accused representatives of Romania's governing party of engaging in "a campaign of defamation" against the country's German minority.
Bernd Fabritius, who was born in Romania, said in a statement late Wednesday that the smears had recently reached "a new peak," citing a Facebook post by Romania's former finance minister, Darius Valcov, which showed the country's ethnic German president, Klaus Iohannis, with a Hitler-style moustache.
Fabritius, who was appointed by the German government to represent the interests of German minorities in eastern Europe, said he has written directly to Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, urging her to distance herself from the "collective insults" by her government or Social Democratic party.
Romania's labor minister, Lia Olguta Vasilescu, recently made a similar anti-German jibe about Iohannis after he criticized riot police for using tear gas during an anti-corruption protest last month where 450 were injured.
"As a German, you have to have to be brave to talk about gassing," she said in an apparent reference to the use of gas in Nazi death camps.
During a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last month, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu distanced himself from his colleagues' remarks, saying Romania appreciated "the loyalty demonstrated by the German minority.... and I firmly disavow any statement that harms that image."
There are some 27,000 ethnic Germans living in Romania according to the last census in 2011, down from about 250,000 in 1989 when communism ended.
Many are descendants of 18th-century German immigrants and are often referred to as Danube Swabians.