Klaus Iohannis
Iohannis in 2022
President of Romania
Assumed office
21 December 2014
Prime Minister
Preceded byTraian Băsescu
Mayor of Sibiu
In office
30 June 2000 – 2 December 2014
Preceded byDan Condurat
Succeeded byAstrid Fodor
Leader of the National Liberal Party
In office
28 June 2014 – 18 December 2014
Preceded byCrin Antonescu
Succeeded byAlina Gorghiu
Vasile Blaga
Leader of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania
In office
2002–2013
Preceded byEberhard Wolfgang Wittstock
Succeeded byPaul-Jürgen Porr
Personal details
Born
Klaus Werner Iohannis

(1959-06-13) 13 June 1959 (age 64)
Sibiu, Romania
Political partyIndependent (2014–present)[a]
Other political
affiliations
Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (1990–2013)
National Liberal Party (2013–2014)
Spouse
(m. 1989)
ResidenceCotroceni Palace
EducationBabeș-Bolyai University (BSc)
Signature
a. ^ PNL membership suspended while president[1]

Klaus Werner Iohannis (Romanian: [ˈkla.us joˈhanis], German: [ˈklaʊs joˈhanɪs]; also spelled Johannis; born 13 June 1959), sometimes referred to by his initials KWI in the Romanian press,[2][3] is a Romanian politician, physicist, and former physics teacher who has been serving as the president of Romania since 2014. He became the president of the National Liberal Party (PNL) in 2014, after previously serving as the leader of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR) between 2002 and 2013. Prior to entering national politics, he was a physics teacher at the Samuel von Brukenthal National College in his native Sibiu.

He was first elected the mayor of the Romanian town of Sibiu, Transylvania in 2000, on behalf of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR). Although the German (more specifically Transylvanian Saxon) population of the once predominantly German/Transylvanian Saxon-speaking town of Sibiu had declined to a tiny minority by the early 2000s, he won a surprise victory and was re-elected by landslides in 2004, 2008, and 2012. He is credited with turning his home town into one of Romania's most popular tourist destinations, Sibiu subsequently obtaining the title of European Capital of Culture in 2007 alongside Luxembourg City, the capital of Luxembourg.

In October 2009, four of the five political groups in the Parliament, excluding the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) of then President Traian Băsescu, proposed him as a candidate for the office of Prime Minister of Romania; however, Băsescu refused to nominate him despite the Parliament's adoption of a declaration supporting his candidacy.[4] He was again the candidate for Prime Minister of the PNL and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) in the elections in the same year.[5] In February 2013, He became a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL), accepting an invitation from then liberal leader Crin Antonescu, and was immediately elected the party's first vice-president, eventually becoming the PNL president during the following year.

Ideologically a conservative,[6][7][8][9] he is the first Romanian president belonging to an ethnic minority, as he is a Transylvanian Saxon, part of Romania's German minority, which settled in Transylvania beginning in the 12th century (as part of the Ostsiedlung process which took place during the High Middle Ages).[10] He was initially elected in 2014 and then subsequently re-elected by a landslide in 2019.

His late presidency (i.e. his second term) has been marked by democratic backsliding[11] as well as a slight shift towards illiberalism[12] and a more authoritarian[13] style of government, especially after the 2021 political crisis and the formation of the National Coalition for Romania (CNR).[14] It has faced allegations of suppression of freedom of speech and also suppression of press freedom.[15][16] Furthermore, his approval ratings have been drastically decreasing since April 2021 onwards as his electorate's trust in him declined tremendously based on his negative political behaviour, favouring the PSD and betraying both his voters as well as his former political allies (albeit several of them being solely conjunctural in the past) in the process (as well as making a long series of political errors). In 2023, The Economist ranked Romania the last country in the European Union (EU) in the world terms of democracy,[17][18] even behind Viktor Orbán's Hungary.[19][20][21][22][23] Moreover, as of 2022, Romania ranks 61st globally according to The Economist Democracy Index (on par with Montenegro), 5 positions behind Hungary and still lagging behind Botswana since at least 2021 onwards.[24][a] A survey from June 2023 shows that over 90% of Romanians do not trust Iohannis, with only 8% having a positive opinion on him.[26]

Various polls and political commentators have ranked Iohannis as the worst president of Romania since the 1989 Romanian Revolution.[27][28][29][30]

Early life and professional career

Born in the old city centre of Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt) to a Transylvanian Saxon family, Klaus Iohannis is the eldest child of Gustav Heinz and Susanne Johannis. He has a younger sister, Krista Johannis (born 1964).[31] His father worked as a technician at a state-own company, while his mother was a nurse.[32] Both his parents as well as his sister emigrated from their native Sibiu/Hermmanstadt to Würzburg, Bavaria in Germany in 1992, acquiring citizenship there under the right of return granted by the German nationality law,[33][34] as most other Transylvanian Saxons after the fall of the Iron Curtain. However, he chose to live and work in Romania.[35]

After graduating from the Faculty of Physics of the Babeș-Bolyai University (UBB) in Cluj-Napoca in 1983, Iohannis worked as a high school physics teacher at various schools and colleges in his native Sibiu, including, from 1989 to 1997, at the Samuel von Brukenthal National College, the oldest German-speaking school in Romania. From 1997 to 1999, he was Deputy General School Inspector of Sibiu County, and from 1999 until his election as mayor in 2000, he was the General School Inspector, head of public schools in the county.

Private life

Alongside his mother tongue, German, and the language of the majority, Romanian, Iohannis also speaks English fluently and can master French to a certain degree. The original German spelling of his name is Johannis, but the name was registered by a Romanian official as Iohannis on his birth certificate[36] and he has used both spellings interchangeably ever since.[37]

In 1989, he married ethnic Romanian Carmen Lăzurcă, an English teacher at the Gheorghe Lazăr National College in Sibiu.[38][39] They have no children.

Iohannis is a member of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania, the German-speaking Lutheran church, mainly of the Transylvanian Saxons, with a lesser presence in other parts of Romania.[40]

As of 2014, his parents, sister and a niece live in Würzburg.[41]

Iohannis has stated that his family settled in Transylvania in present-day Romania 850 years ago, more specifically around 1500[dubious ] in the small town of Cisnădie (German: Heltau), Sibiu County.[42]

Political career

He joined the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR) in 1990, and served as a member of its board of education in Transylvania from 1997, and a member of the local party board in Sibiu from 1998. In 2001, he was elected President of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR), succeeding former president Eberhard Wolfgang Wittstock.

Mayor of Sibiu

Iohannis as Mayor of Sibiu in May 2006

In 2000, the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania in Sibiu (FDGS), the local chapter of the Democratic Forum of Germans (FDGR/DFDR), decided to back him as a candidate for mayor. While initially not wanting anything else than to represent the forum through a local candidate and to obtain a certain degree of local political visibility at that time, the leadership of FDGR/DFDR was surprised for his subsequent victory.

Despite the fact that Sibiu's German minority (represented, more specifically, by Transylvanian Saxons) had shrunken to a mere 1.6%, Iohannis was elected with 69.18% of the votes and has won three re-elections in a row, getting some of the largest electoral scores in the country: 88.69% of the vote in 2004,[43] and 83.26% in 2008.[44] Consequently, he became the third ethnic German mayor of a Romanian city since Albert Dörr[45] and Hans Jung (who briefly served in 1941 in Timișoara), the former who had also served in Sibiu from 1906/07 to 1918 (the first was Otto Helmut Mayerhoffer, who served as elected mayor of the town of Roman in Neamț County, between 1992 and 1996).[46]

Throughout his tenure as mayor, he has worked to restore the town's infrastructure and to tighten the local administration. Iohannis is also widely credited with turning his hometown into one of Romania's most popular tourist destinations thanks to the extensive renovation of the old downtown.[47] During his first term, Iohannis worked with a town council which was formed by PDSR/PSD, FDGR/DFDR, PD, CDR, and PRM.[48] Since 2004, during his second and third terms, his own party, FDGR/DFDR, had the majority. Between 2008 and 2012, FDGR/DFDR had 14 out of 23 councillors, PDL 4, PSD 3, and PNL only 2.[49]

Iohannis established contacts with foreign officials and investors. Sibiu was declared the European Capital of Culture of 2007, along with Luxembourg (the bearer of the distinction in 1995).[50] Luxembourg chose to share this honourable status with Sibiu due to the fact that many of the Transylvanian Saxons emigrated in the 12th century to Transylvania from the area where Luxembourg is today.[51] Sibiu which was mainly built by the Transylvanian Saxons as early as the Middle Ages, was for many centuries the cultural centre of the German ethnic group in Transylvania, and was a predominantly German-speaking town until the mid 20th century. Subsequently, many Germans left the town after World War II, and especially in 1990, within months of the fall of the Iron Curtain.

On 7 November 2005, Iohannis was nominated as the "Personality of the Year for a European Romania" (Romanian: Personalitatea anului pentru o Românie europeană) by the Eurolink – House of Europe organization.[52]

Candidacy for Prime Minister, with PSD support

On 14 October 2009, the leaders of the opposition parliamentary groups (the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UMR), the Conservative Party (PC) led by Dan Voiculescu, and the group of smaller ethnic minorities), proposed Iohannis as a candidate for the post of Prime Minister, after the government of PM Emil Boc fell a day before as a result of a motion of no confidence in the Parliament. Coming from outside the national-level politics of Romania, Iohannis had an image of an independent politician,[53] although his party (i.e. the FDGR/DFDR) consistently allied itself with, and Iohannis campaigned in the prior European Parliament elections for, the National Liberals (PNL).

Subsequently, the PNL, PSD, UDMR, and the small ethnic minorities group in the Parliament presented Iohannis as their common candidate for Prime Minister of an interim government.[54] On 14 October, Iohannis confirmed acceptance of his candidacy. However, on 15 October, President Traian Băsescu nominated Lucian Croitoru, a top Romanian economist, as Prime Minister, and charged the latter with forming the country's next government.

After the second round of negotiations, a day before Croitoru's nomination, Băsescu noted: "Some parties have proposed Klaus Iohannis. I would like you to know that I have not rejected the possibility for him to become Prime Minister, while my options would rather envisage other [national unity government] solutions. But I have rejected[dubious ] such a proposal because it comes from PSD or another party [PNL]", referring to the alleged legal constraint of only considering a proposal presented by the largest parliamentary faction, at the time the Liberal Democratic Party (PDL), a constraint disputed by the other parties, along with insisting that given the financial and economic crisis at that time, a PM needs to have experience in that field.[55][56] The opposition criticized the President for not designating Iohannis. Social Democrat leader Mircea Geoană accused Băsescu of trying to influence the upcoming presidential elections by having them organised by a sympathetic government.[57][58] Crin Antonescu, the leader of the National Liberals, vowed his party would derail other nominations but Iohannis'.[57] After the nomination of Croitoru, Antonescu, a candidate in the presidential election, stated that he would nominate Iohannis as prime minister if elected president.[59] Three days later, on 18 October, Geoană suggested Antonescu was trying to use Iohannis as an "electoral agent" for Antonescu's bid for president. In response, Antonescu told the press that Iohannis "is not the type of person that would let himself be used".[60] Geoană and PSD leadership has held a second meeting with Iohannis in Bucharest in the evening of 18 October. UDMR, which the previous day announced it would also attend, declared in the morning that all their leaders were not in the city. PNL was present at the meeting with lower level representatives, after Antonescu announced in the morning that he was campaigning in Cluj[61] On 21 October the Parliament adopted with 252 votes in favor (PSD, PNL, UDMR, and minorities groups) and 2 against a declaration requesting the President to nominate Iohannis as Prime Minister.[62][63]

In the National Liberal Party (PNL)

On 20 February 2013, Klaus Iohannis joined the PNL, announcing this during a press conference with Crin Antonescu. At a PNL extraordinary congress, he was elected First Vice President of the Party. In the meeting of 28 June 2014, he was elected President of the PNL with 95% of the votes.

Candidacy for the President of Romania

Klaus Iohannis and his PSD opponent (and former USL ally) Victor Ponta at a TV debate on Realitatea TV, 11 November 2014

In 2009, Iohannis had stated that he might possibly run for the office of President of Romania, although not in that year.[64] In addition, former Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu also stated on 27 October 2009 and again on 23 April 2010 that he would like to see Iohannis become either Prime Minister or President of Romania sometime in the future.[65]

PNL and PDL started in the summer of 2014 procedures to strengthen the political right. The two parties will eventually merge under the name PNL, but went for elections in an alliance: the Christian Liberal Alliance (Romanian: Alianța Creștin-Liberală). On 11 August the alliance chose Iohannis as its candidate for the presidential election in November[66] and so he was registered as an official presidential candidate. In a late August 2014 interview, Iohannis described himself as a politruk who candidates for the presidency of Romania.[67] He subsequently received 30.37% of the votes in the first round, finishing second and consequently qualifying for the second round. In the second round on 16 November he was elected President of Romania with 54.43% of the cast ballots.

Presidency (2014–present)

Presidential styles of
Klaus Iohannis
Reference stylePreședintele (President)
Spoken stylePreședintele (President)
Alternative styleDomnia Sa/Excelența Sa (His Excellency)
Iohannis with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in March 2016
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Klaus Iohannis before their bilateral meeting at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on 9 June 2017
Iohannis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March 2018
Iohannis with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in May 2022
Iohannis with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in February 2023

Iohannis took office on 21 December 2014, when Traian Băsescu's term ended. His presidential campaign focused on fighting corruption and on improving the justice system.[68] Iohannis is also a supporter of a strongly pro-Western foreign policy.[69] Regarding the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, much discussed in the electoral campaign, Iohannis stated that "is something that only Bucharest can offer and only Chișinău can accept", and this "special relationship must be cultivated and enhanced especially by us [the Romanian state]".[70][71] Upon taking office, Iohannis suspended his membership within the National Liberal Party (PNL); the Romanian constitution does not allow the president to be a formal member of a political party during his tenure.

A heavily disputed draft law proposed by Nicolae Păun, leader of the Party of the Roma, regarding the amnesty of some misdemeanors and the pardoning of certain penalties was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies at the initiative of Klaus Iohannis and the party he led,[72] after PNL asked the Judiciary Committee 17 times to reject the draft law.[73]

The collaboration with socialist Prime Minister Victor Ponta was praised by both sides at the start of the mandate, but deteriorated thereafter once with foreign visits of the Head of the Executive, without informing the President, but especially with the criminal prosecution of Victor Ponta for 22 alleged corruption charges, prompting Iohannis to demand his resignation from the head of the Government.[74] Relations with Parliament went similarly. Iohannis criticized the Parliament for defending MPs by rejecting the requests of the National Anticorruption Directorate for lifting their immunity, as in the case of PSD senator Dan Șova or Prime Minister Victor Ponta.[75] Regarding the judicial system, Klaus Iohannis pleads for a sustained fight against corruption. Likewise, Iohannis expressed dissatisfaction with attempted amendments to the Penal Code.[76] In the context of foreign policy, Iohannis and Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, created Bucharest Nine during a meeting between both in Bucharest on 4 November 2015.[77] The Russian annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and the country's intervention in the east of Ukraine are the main reason for the creation of the organization. It has nine members, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.[78][79]

Since coming into office, President Klaus Iohannis has made a habit to hold consultations with parliamentary parties. The first round of consultations took place on 12 January, the purpose of these discussions being a political agreement that would ensure, by 2017, a minimum threshold of 2% of GDP for the Ministry of Defence, agreement signed by all parties.[80] The second round of consultations focused on the legislative priorities of the parliamentary session: voting in diaspora, financing electoral campaigns and parties and lifting parliamentary immunity. Because the Parliament has not implemented the commitments made on 28 January, Iohannis has organised another series of consultations on the state of electoral laws,[81] but also on rejection of Justice requests for approval of arrest or prosecution of MPs. The topics of other meetings between the president and parties focused on the Big Brother law package and the national defense strategy.[82]

In February 2016, the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) sent a notice of evacuation of the headquarters of two TV stations owned by Dan Voiculescu, sentenced in August 2014 to 10 years imprisonment in a corruption case with 60 million euros worth of prejudice.[83] In this context, Klaus Iohannis stated that ANAF approach in Antena TV Group case is "hasty", "inappropriate" and that "freedom of expression in media can not be suppressed for trivial administrative reasons".[84] His position was met with a wave of criticism from supporters and public figures.[85][86] On the same note, Iohannis stated that union with Moldova is "a less serious approach" in the context of the Transnistria conflict, of differences between Romania and Moldova regarding economic stability and fighting corruption, and can be discussed when things are stable in both countries.[87] The statement sparked indignation among unionists[88] who accused him of demagogy, considering that during the electoral campaign of 2014 he expressed a favorable position on the issue.[89] In March 2018, at the 100th anniversary of the Union of Bessarabia with Romania, he was absent from a plenary vote regarding the issue.[90]

President Iohannis is considered the primary responsible for the 2021 Romanian political crisis,[91][92][93][94] to the point that when asked in a CURS opinion poll from November 2021, 35% of respondents said that he is the main culprit for the said crisis.[95] Critics consider him responsible for excluding the USR from the government during late 2021, and thereby allowing the PSD to be brought back to power.[96] This happened on 25 November 2021, when the National Coalition for Romania was founded and the Ciucă Cabinet was sworn in.[97][98][99] Two months later, he praised the new coalition, stating that "the Romanian political class has shown democratic maturity".[100] Iohannis has also been criticized given the fact that during the two ruling years of the PSD-ALDE coalition (more specifically between 2017 and 2019), he sharply criticized the PSD. At the 2020 legislative elections, he called the electorate to vote, promising to get rid of the PSD.[101][102] Some public figures in Romania, who in the past expressed their support for Klaus Iohannis, have criticized him for his double standard and lack of proper governance. These critics include Vladimir Tismăneanu, Tudor Chirilă, Radu Paraschivescu, Mircea Cărtărescu, Andrei Oișteanu, Ada Solomon,[103] Marius Manole,[104] Cristian Tudor Popescu,[105] and Gabriel Liiceanu.[106] The coalition's rule has been described as being authoritarian,[107] illiberal,[108][109] kleptocratic and corrupt.[110][111]

Despite the fact that, officially, the President of Romania is not affiliated with any political party, Iohannis is also regarded as the de facto current leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL).[112][113]

On 12 June 2023, according to the protocol of the CNR, Nicolae Ciucă resigned.[114] The next day, President Iohannis designated Marcel Ciolacu to be the next prime-minister.[115] Ciucă became the President of the Romanian Senate on 13 June 2023.[116] UDMR also withdrew from the coalition, after the National Liberals decided to take the Minister of Development, Public Works and Administration, which was held by UDMR in the Ciucă Cabinet.[117][118] On 15 June 2023, the Parliament of Romania voted through the Ciolacu Cabinet. Iohannis praised the PSD-PNL coalition again, saying that this new model implemented in Romanian politics, the government rotation, "has worked very well so far". He also declared that "the fact that today we are here to formalize the rotation of the prime ministers shows a new level of seriousness of the coalition".[119] During the late part of Iohannis' presidency, especially during Ciucă's premiership, the freedom of the press in Romania declined, according to World Press Freedom Index (from 75.09 in 2021[120] to 69.04 in 2023[121]). Under Ciucă's premiership, Romania experienced democratic backsliding,[122] with The Economist ranking it last in the European Union in the world terms of democracy,[123] even behind Viktor Orbán's Hungary.[124]

International travels as President of Romania (2015–present)

Data Country City Notes
11 January 2015  France Paris Solidarity March, in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris
15–16 January 2015  Belgium Brussels Official visit to Brussels

Meeting with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg

10 February 2015  France Paris Official visit to France

Talks with President François Hollande on French–Romanian relations, combating terrorism and Ukraine[125]

12 February 2015  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

25 February 2015  Moldova Chișinău Official visit to the Republic of Moldova

Meeting with President Nicolae Timofti. Talks with pro-European parties on bilateral relations and the process of European integration of Moldova[126]

26 February 2015  Germany Berlin Official visit to Germany

Talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the situation in Ukraine, investments, European projects and strengthening the rule of law[127] Meeting with the German President

12–13 March 2015  Poland Warsaw Official visit to Poland

Talks with President Bronisław Komorowski on Ukraine, NATO and Moldova[128] Meeting with the Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz

17 March 2015  Ukraine Kyiv Official visit to Ukraine
19–20 March 2015  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

23 April 2015  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
27–28 April 2015  Italy Rome Official visit to Italy
7 May 2015  Poland Gdansk Events to comemorate 70 years since the end of the Second World War
14–15 May 2015  Italy Milan, Rome Meeting with Romanian community in Milan and Pope Francis[129] Official visit to the Holy See

Visit to the Romanian Pavilion at the World Expo in Milano

21–22 May 2015  Latvia Riga Eastern Partnership Summit[130]
11 June 2015  Belgium Brussels UE-CELAC Summit
15–16 June 2015  Croatia Zagreb Official visit to Croatia

Meeting with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and President of the Sabor Josip Leko[131]

25–26 June 2015  Belgium Brussels European Council
12–13 July 2015  Spain Madrid Official visit to Spain

Meeting with King Felipe VI, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Romanian community representatives[132][133]

16 July 2015  Serbia Belgrade Official visit to Serbia
26 July 2015  Austria Salzburg Work meeting with the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer
24–30 September 2015  United States New York City, Washington, D.C. Represented Romania at the United Nations General Assembly

Met with the United States President Barack Obama and Vice-president Joe Biden[134]

23–24 September 2015  Belgium Brussels Special informal meeting of the European Council
15–16 October 2015  Belgium Brussels European Council
25 October 2015  Belgium Brussels Meeting organised by the European Commission on migration in the Western Balkans
11–12 November 2015  Belgium Brussels Informal meeting of the European Council

EU-Africa Summit

18–19 November 2015  Slovakia Bratislava Official visit to Slovakia
29 November 2015  Belgium Brussels European Union – Türkiye Summit
30 November 2015  France Paris United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP21
11–13 February 2016  Germany Munich Munich Security Conference

Meetings with the authorities of the Land of Bavaria

18–20 February 2016  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

7–9 March 2016  Israel Jerusalem State visit to the State of Israel
10 March 2016  Palestine Ramallah State visit to the State of Palestine
17–18 March 2016  Belgium Brussels European Council

Working meeting between the EU leaders and the Prime Minister of Türkiye

23–24 March 2016  Turkey Ankara State visit to Türkiye
31 March–1 April 2016  United States Washington D.C. Nuclear Security Summit

Meeting with the Romanian Community Visit to the Holocaust Museum Working Dinner at the White House hosted by US President Barack Obama

1 May 2016  Afghanistan Military base Visiting the Romanian Troops deployed to Afghanistan
18 May 2016  Lithuania Vilnius State visit to Lithuania
6–7 June 2016  Luxembourg Luxembourg City Official visit to Luxembourg
15–16 June 2016  Bulgaria Sofia, Pordim, Giurgiu-Ruse, Grivița, Pleven Official visit to Bulgaria
28 June 2016  Belgium Brussels European Council
8–9 July 2016  Poland Warsaw NATO Summit[135]
10 July 2016  Poland Warsaw Official visit to Poland
9 September 2016  Germany Berlin Work meeting with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Prime-Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, and the Prime-Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel
16 September 2016  Slovakia Bratislava Informal meeting of the European Council
28 September 2016  Germany Kiel Receiving the Hermann Ehlers award, Hermann Ehlers Foundation
30 September 2016  Israel Jerusalem International funerals of the former of the President of Israel, Shimon Peres
20–21 October 2016  Belgium Brussels European Council
15 December 2016  Belgium Brussels European Council
24–25 January 2017  France Strasbourg Official visit to the Council of Europe, as well as the European Court of Human Rights[136]
3 February 2017  Malta Valetta Informal meeting of the European Council
9–10 March 2017  Belgium Brussels European Council
24–25 March 2017  Italy Rome Informal meeting of the European Council

Celebration of 60 years since the Rome Treaties

30 March 2017  Malta Valetta EPP Summit
29 April 2017  Belgium Brussels European Council
25 May 2017  Belgium Brussels NATO Leaders Reunion
5–9 June 2017  United States Washington D.C. Visit to the United States

Meeting at the White House withe the President of the United States Joint press conference with United States President Donald Trump Meeting with the Romanian community Meetings with the American authorities

19–20 June 2017  Germany Berlin Visit to Germany

Meetings with the President of Germany and the Federal Chancellor Receiving the Semper Opera Ball Dresden Medal of St. George

22–23 June 2017  Belgium Brussels European Council
6 July 2017  Poland Warsaw The Three Seas Initiative Summit
19–22 September 2017  United States New York CityPhiladelphia Represented Romania at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations

Meeting with the Romanian Community

28–29 September 2017  Estonia Tallinn Informal meeting of the European Council – Digital Summit
19–20 October 2017  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

17 November 2017  Sweden Göteborg Social Summit
24 November 2017  Belgium Brussels European Council
14–15 December 2017  Belgium Brussels Eastern Partnership Summit
31 January 2018  Belgium Brussels Visit to Brussels

Meetings with the leaders of the European institutions

23 February 2018  Belgium Brussels European Council
22–23 March 2018  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

4 May 2018  Bulgaria Ruse Informal meeting of the Presidents of Romania, Bulgaria and Austria
16 May 2018  Bulgaria Sofia Informal meeting of the European Council
17 May 2018  Bulgaria Sofia European Union – Western Balkans Summit
1–2 June 2018  Germany Munich Visit to the Land of Bavaria

Receiving the Franz Josef Strauss award, Hanns Seidel Foundation

7 June 2018  Poland Warsaw Bilateral visit to Poland
8 June 2018  Poland Warsaw Bucharest Nine Format Summit
28–29 June 2018  Belgium Brussels European Council
11–12 July 2018  Belgium Brussels NATO Summit
19–20 September 2018  Austria Salzburg Informal meeting of the European Council
24–27 September 2018  United States New York City Represented Romania at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations
14–17 October 2018  Italy Rome, Napoli State visit in Italy
18 October 2018  Belgium Brussels European Council
18–19 October 2018  Belgium Brussels ASEM 12 Summit
23 October 2018  France Strasbourg Debate regarding the Future of Europe in the European Parliament
10–11 November 2018  France Paris Paris Peace Forum
14 November 2018  United Kingdom London Event dedicated to his Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, on the occasion of his 70th birthday
25 November 2018  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
26–27 November 2018  France Paris Official visit to France

Official opening of the Romania-France Cultural Season

13–14 December 2018  Belgium Brussels European Council
17–18 December 2018  Austria Vienna Europa-Africa High-Level Forum
22 January 2019  Germany Aachen The signing of the Treaty of Aachen on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration
16 February 2019  Germany Munich The 55th Munich Security Conference

Bilateral meeting with the Vicepresident of the United States of America, Mike Pence

23–25 February 2019  Egypt Sharm El-Sheikh EU – League of Arab States Summit
28 February 2019  Slovakia Košice Bucharest Nine Format Summit
21–22 March 2019  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit Anual Trans-Atlantic Conference (AmCham EU)

10 April 2019  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
3–4 May 2019  Italy Florence The State of the Union Conference
13 May 2019  Belgium Brussels Meeting of the representatives of the Eastern Partnership
28 May 2019  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

5–6 June 2019  Slovenia Brdo The Three Seas Initiative Summit
20–21 June 2019  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

30 June–2 July 2019  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council

EPP Summit

20 August 2019  United States Washington, D.C. Visit to the White House (Washington, D.C.)
24–26 September 2019  United States New York City Represented Romania at the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations
1 October 2019  Belgium Brussels Official opening of the Europalia International Art Festival
17–18 October 2019  Belgium Brussels European Council
21–22 October 2019  Japan Tokyo The enthronement festivities of Emperor Naruhito
20 November 2019  Croatia Zagreb EPP Summit
3–4 December 2019  United Kingdom Watford NATO Summit
12–13 December 2019  Belgium Brussels European Council
7 January 2020  Germany Bavaria Working visit to the Land of Bavaria
21–23 January 2020  Israel Jerusalem The Fifth World Holocaust Forum
20–21 February 2020  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
17–20 July 2020  Belgium Brussels European Council
1–2 October 2020  Belgium Brussels European Council
14 October 2020  Germany Magdeburg Receiving the Emperor Otto Prize, awarded by the City of Magdeburg
15–16 October 2020  Belgium Brussels European Council
10 December 2020  Belgium Brussels European Council
29 December 2020  Moldova Chișinău Official visit to the Republic of Moldova
7–8 May 2021  Portugal Porto Informal meeting of the European Council (Social Summit)

Work meeting of the EU-India Format

24–25 May 2021  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
14 June 2021  Belgium Brussels NATO Summit
16–17 June 2021  Estonia Tallinn State visit in Estonia
24–25 June 2021  Belgium Brussels European Council

EPP Summit

8–9 July 2021  Bulgaria Sofia The Three Seas Initiative Summit
27 August 2021  Moldova Chișinău Took part in Independence Day Celebrations

Meeting with the Presidents of the Republic of Moldova, Poland and Ukraine

9 September 2021   Switzerland Bern Official visit to Switzerland
21–22 September 2021  United States New York City Represented Romania at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly[137]
1–2 October 2021  Germany Aachen Receiving the Charlemagne Prize, awarded by the City of Aachen
5–6 October 2021  Slovenia Bled Informal meeting of the European Council

European Union – Western Balkans Summit

13 October 2021  Sweden Malmö Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism
21–22 October 2021  Belgium Brussels European Council
27 October 2021  Egypt Cairo State visit in Egypt

Meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[138]

1–2 November 2021  United Kingdom Glasgow 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26
15 December 2021  Belgium Brussels Eastern Partnership Summit[139]
16 December 2021  Belgium Brussels European Council
16 February 2022  France Versailles Attended the informal meeting of European Council regarding security situation in Sahel at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron[140]
17 February 2022  Belgium Brussels Informal meeting of the European Council
17–18 February 2022  Belgium Brussels European Union – African Union Summit
10 March 2022  France Versailles Informal meeting of European Council
16 March 2022  Moldova Chișinău Meeting with President Maia Sandu in the context of war in Ukraine[141]
24 March 2022  Belgium Brussels Extraordinary NATO Summit[142]
24–25 March 2022  Belgium Brussels European Council
30–31 May 2022  Belgium Brussels Special meeting of the European Council
4 June 2022  Germany Hof Receiving the European Charles IV Prize of the Sudeten German Homeland Association
14 June 2022  Netherlands The Hague Informal meeting of leaders before the NATO Summit in Madrid
16 June 2022  Ukraine Kyiv Visit with the President of France, the Chancellor of Germany, and the Prim-Minister of Italy
20 June 2022  Latvia Riga The Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum
23 June 2022  Belgium Brussels European Union – Western Balkans Summit
23–24 June 2022  Belgium Brussels European Council
28–30 June 2022  Spain Madrid NATO Summit
18–19 September 2022  United Kingdom London State funerals of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
20–23 September 2022  United States New York CitySan Francisco Represented Romania at the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations

Visit to San Francisco, meetings with the Romanian Community from the West Coast of the US

6–7 October 2022  Czech Republic Prague Informal Summit of the European Council
20–21 October 2022  Belgium Brussels European Council
7–8 November 2022  Egypt Sharm El-Sheikh 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP27
11–12 November 2022  France Paris Paris Peace Forum
23 November 2022  Latvia Riga Official visit to Latvia
24 November 2022  Lithuania Vilnius

Kaunas

Official visit to Lithuania

Meeting of the Presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Romania

2 December 2022  Greece Athens Working visit to Greece
3 December 2022  Greece Athens EPP Leaders Summit
6 December 2022  Albania Tirana European Union – Western Balkans Summit
14 December 2022  Belgium Brussels EU-ASEAN Summit
15 December 2022  Belgium Brussels European Council
2–3 February 2023  Azerbaijan Baku Official visit to Azerbaijan
9 February 2023  Belgium Brussels Extraordinary European Council
22 February 2023  Poland Warsaw Bucharest Nine Format Summit
27 February 2023  Luxembourg Luxembourg City European Investment Bank Group Forum
6–8 March 2023  Japan Tokyo and Kyoto Official visit to Japan
9–10 March 2023  Singapore Singapore State visit to Singapore
15 March 2023  Bulgaria Sofia Official visit to Bulgaria
March 2023  United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi and Dubai Official visit to the United Arab Emirates
23–24 March 2023  Belgium Brussels European Council
April 2023  Argentina,  Chile,  Brazil Buenos Aires

Santiago de Chile Brasília, Rio de Janeiro

Official visits to Argentina, Chile and Brazil
5–6 May 2023  United Kingdom London The coronation of his Majesty King Charles III
16–17 May 2023  Iceland Reykjavík Council of Europe Summit
1 June 2023  Moldova Chișinău European Political Community Summit, in Bulboaca
3–4 June 2023  Germany Düsseldorf and Frankfurt Receiving the German Civic Award, conferred by the Bad Harzburg Civic Foundation

Receiving the Franz Werfel Human Rights Award, granted by the Centre Against Expulsions in Bonn

6 June 2023  Slovakia Bratislava Bucharest Nine Format Summit
27 June 2023  Netherlands The Hague Informal meeting of leaders before the NATO Summit in Lithuania
29–30 June 2023  Belgium Brussels European Council
11–12 July 2023  Lithuania Vilnius 2023 NATO Summit
17–18 July 2023  Belgium Brussels EU-CELAC Summit
19–21 September 2023  United States New York Represented Romania at the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations
5 October 2023  Spain Granada European Political Community Summit
6 October 2023  Spain Granada Informal summit of the European Council
7–9 October 2023  Portugal Porto and Lisbon State visit in the Republic of Portugal
11 October 2023  Hungary Budapest Official visit to Hungary
26–27 October 2023  Belgium Brussels European Council

Political positions

Unification of Moldova and Romania

Main article: Unification of Moldova and Romania

Regarding the unification of Moldova and Romania, Klaus Iohannis declared during the 2014 presidential campaign that the unification is something that only Bucharest can provide and only Chișinău can accept. "If Moldovan citizens want the unification with Romania, then nobody can stop them", stated Klaus Iohannis.[143] After election, his position mitigated, stressing that, at the moment, Romania should support Moldova to consolidate its pro-European path.[144] President Klaus Iohannis said that a possible unification of Romania and Moldova could be discussed at the moment things are going well and stable in the two countries.[88][145]

Autonomy of the Hungarian minority in Szeklerland

In March 2017, a sub-group of the ethnically Hungarian Székely community in southeastern Transylvania launched a petition demanding autonomy for their region, arguing for political and administrative self-rule, their own elected president and flag, as well as the recognition of Hungarian as an official language next to Romanian.[146] Iohannis, on a visit to the region in July, cautioned against decentralization and the creation of regions based on the ethnic origin of residents.[147] He argued for more and improved cooperation between Romanians and Hungarians "as the only solution for us" instead, stressing local administrative reforms and developing the region.[148]

On 28 April 2020, a draft legislation favouring the autonomy of Székely Land, submitted by two deputies of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR/RMDSZ) in December 2019,[149] was tacitly adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Parliament of Romania, in which the Social Democratic Party (PSD) held a plurality of seats and all whilst the National Liberal Party (PNL) led a minority government. The draft bill was automatically adopted after it exceeded the 45-day deadline for debate.[150] On 29 April, Klaus Iohannis criticised the draft's adoption in a television speech, stating "as we ... fight the coronavirus pandemic, ... the PSD ... fights in the secret offices of the parliament to give Transylvania to the Hungarians". In his speech, he used Hungarian language in a mocking manner: Bună ziua ['good day' in Romanian], dear Romanians; jó napot kívánok ['good day' in Hungarian], PSD."[150][151][152] On the same day, the draft was rejected in the Senate, with both PNL's and PSD's senators voting in favour of the rejection.[153]

The president's speech was met with widespread criticism. Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó described the statements of Iohannis as "particularly uncivilized and suitable for inciting hatred" and asked the Romanian president to show "more respect to Hungarians".[154] In turn, Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu called Szijjártó's statements "provocative and inadequate".[155] In a radio interview, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also reacted to the speech, saying "we have never heard such remarks from Romania, not even in the worst, most antidemocratic, tumultuous times".[156] The president's comments were also criticised by members of the Romanian opposition parties PSD and ALDE, but also by the confidence and supply USR (which has been supporting the PNL minority government since 2019).[157] Iohannis was fined 5,000 lei by the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) for discrimination and ethnicity/nationality-based violation of the right to dignity.[158]

Ukraine's education law

Iohannis criticized Ukraine's 2017 education law, which makes Ukrainian the only language of education in state schools, and cancelled his visit to Kyiv in October 2017.[159][160] Iohannis said that Ukraine's new education law "will drastically limit the access of minorities to education in their native language. We are deeply hurt by this. We have many Romanians in Ukraine."[160]

Anticorruption

President Klaus Iohannis is a supporter of the fight against corruption in Romania. Since coming to power in November 2014, has sent several messages of support to prosecutors investigating sensitive cases against politicians accused of corruption. Making one of its important position was on 25 February 2016 at the annual meeting of the National Anticorruption Directorate: "From year to year the work of the National Anticorruption Directorate has become more effective as the number of cases investigated and complexity, as well as final decisions on confiscation and recovery of property from crime. You are a model of functional institution and created a performance standard. Through the work and achievements, you've earned the appreciation of the Romanian citizens who want to live in a just society, in a country without corruption, the institutions, elect to represent them and those who perform public functions are actually serving the people. The results obtained by you in fighting corruption, appreciated and beyond Romania's borders are a guarantee that the process of strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Romania are on track. I am convinced that we will be increasingly more powerful in applying the constitutional principle that nobody is above the law and to align our established practice in countries with democracies that put the citizen at the center of any policy", stated Klaus Iohannis.[161]

He has rejected demands for the suspension of the head of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruța Kövesi.[162][163]

LGBT rights

In terms of LGBT rights and recognition of same-sex unions in Romania, Iohannis has not stated clearly his opinion:[164]

Romanian society is not yet ready for a definite answer. I won't give an answer but as a president I am willing to open up the issue for discussion. We have to accept that any minority has rights and that a majority is strong when they protect the minority.

— Iohannis in a 2014 debate with bloggers[165]

However, he is pleading for the acceptance of differences and diversity: "nobody should be persecuted because they belong to a different group or they are different".[164]

Regarding the initiative to amend Article 48 of the Constitution (prohibition of gay marriage) started by the Coalition for Family (Romanian: Coaliția pentru Familie), Iohannis reiterated the concepts of tolerance and accepting one another.[166] "It is wrong to give obedience or walk the path of religious fanaticism and ultimatum solicitations. I do not believe in them and do not support them. I believe in tolerance, trust and openness to other", said Iohannis in a press conference.[167] Thus, Iohannis is the first top official in the country to open the discussion about same-sex marriages.[168] His reaction was praised by international media, including The Washington Post,[169][170] while religious and conservative organizations in Romania have criticized his position on LGBT rights.

Migration

Iohannis has said that migration "has to be controlled" and "it affects Romanian habits" and has supported stronger external European borders.[171] Iohannis accepted the migration quota set for his country by the EU, but said he is still opposed to mandatory quotas being set by the Commission.[172]

Honours

International and National Awards

State honorary distinctions

Books

Klaus Johannis published three books with a main focus on politics as follows:

Electoral history

Local elections (Mayor of Sibiu/Hermannstadt)

Election Affiliation First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
2000 FDGR/DFDR 20,629
33.10%
 1st  46,286
69.18%
 1st 
2004 FDGR/DFDR 73,621
88.69%
 1st 
2008 FDGR/DFDR 50,107
83.26%
 1st 
2012 FDGR/DFDR 53,281
77.89%
 1st 

Presidential elections

Election Affiliation First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
2014 ACL
(also supported by FDGR/DFDR)
2,881,406
30.37%
 2nd  6,288,769
54.43%
 1st 
2019 PNL
(also supported by FDGR/DFDR)
3,485,292
37.82%
 1st  6,509,135
66.09%
 1st 

Notes

  1. ^ Johannis ironically stated in a 2014 presidential campaign interview that Romania is under Botswana in this top (more specifically on the 60th place at that time) and it still is beneath Botswana in this international ranking to the end of his two terms as president (decreasing even one more position in the meantime), namely in his late presidency.[25]

References

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Political offices Preceded byDan Condurat Mayor of Sibiu 2000–2014 Succeeded byAstrid Fodor Preceded byTraian Băsescu President of Romania 2014–present Incumbent Party political offices Preceded byWolfgang Wittstock Leader of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania 2002–2013 Succeeded byPaul-Jürgen Porr Preceded byCrin Antonescu Leader of the National Liberal Party 2014 Succeeded byVasile Blaga Succeeded byAlina Gorghiu Order of precedence First Order of precedence in Romaniaas President Succeeded byAlina Gorghiuas Acting President of the Senate