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Hungarian Symbolic Figure of Anti-communist Resistance Remains a Challenge to Romanian nationalists

Hungary Today 2022.10.18.

The Bucharest Court of Appeals has for the second time rejected László Tőkés’ request to annul the presidential decree revoking the order awarded to him by the Romanian state.

Előd Kincses, László Tőkés’ lawyer, told Hungarian news agency MTI that this time the court found that it did not have the authority to review the presidential decree revoking the Order of the Star of Romania.

The lawyer finds the ruling strange because the same Court of Appeal already examined and ruled on the case once, but the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania did not accept this ruling and sent the case back to the first instance, asking the Court of Appeal to examine it again.

“This means that the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice has not been implemented,” the lawyer said. He added that he will send the case back to the first instance if the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice is consistent.

According to the lawyer, the Romanian judiciary is trying to drag the case out. They are apparently waiting for the end of Klaus Iohannis’ term before passing a verdict that will certainly be unfavorable for the head of state.


László Tőkés (1952-), ethnic Hungarian from Romania, Reformed pastor, was constantly harassed in 1988-1989 for his critical remarks about the state of his church and the destruction of villages in Romania.

In 1989 he was sued by state and church authorities, stripped of his pulpit and exiled. One of the initial sparks of the Romanian Revolution was created by a movement of believers and their followers in Timișoara who resisted his forced eviction.

After the fall of communism, he was elected a Reformed bishop and later held various political posts, including vice president of the European Parliament (2010-2012). He always stood up for the rights of the Hungarian minority in Romania, which earned him the enmity of nationalist circles.

On the 20th anniversary of the revolution, László Tőkés was awarded the Order of the Star of Romania with the rank of Knight by President Traian Băsescu for his role in the 1989 Timisoara Revolution, which led to the fall of the Ceaușescu dictatorship. However, the award was revoked by Klaus Iohannis in March 2016. The revocation of the award was initiated by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, known for his anti-Hungarian remarks, in 2013 after László Tőkés said in a speech in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad) that Hungary should adopt a protective status over the Hungarians in Transylvania, as Austria did with regard to the German community in South Tyrol (Italy).

The Romanian journalists present at the time, translated – intentionally or unintentionally – “protective status” (in relation to the relationship between Austria and South Tyrol, the term “protective power” is still used today) with the colonial term “protectorate” instead of the correct “state guarantor”, which caused resentment among the Romanian public.

The revocation of the Order of State by Romanian President Iohannis can be seen as a gesture by the head of state towards nationalist circles.

According to the lawyer, the presidential decree is clearly illegal, since the law on orders of merit allows for withdrawal only in two cases, which does not apply in this case. The Order of Merit must be withdrawn if the person in question is sentenced to imprisonment or if he or she commits acts unworthy of recognition of his or her merits.

László Tőkés was deprived of the Order of Merit not because of his actions, but because of his expression of opinion,

but the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution.

László Tőkés with the certificate of the award of the Order. Photo: László Tőkés Facebook press office.

Featured Photo: Press Office of László Tőkés, Facebook

Article originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.

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