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President Iohannis urges Romanians, ethnic Hungarians to work together as only solution for them

At the end of a visit to the central city of Sfantu Gheorghe on Tuesday, President Klaus Iohannis urged Romanians and ethnic Hungarians to cooperate.

"There is a message to Romanians and Hungarians, to Hungarians and Romanians: let us work together, because that is the only solution for us," Iohannis said after a meeting with officials of business clusters, professional associations and business incubators in the central county of Covasna.

According to AP correspondent, Romania's president has warned against decentralization for ethnic minorities during a visit to a region where many Hungarians are demanding more privileges.

President Klaus Iohannis said Tuesday that "decentralization is desirable" if it creates a more efficient local administration. However, he cautioned against creating regions based the ethnic origin of residents.

Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban has supported Romania's 1.2 million Hungarians in seeking more control over their affairs. Most reside in two counties in northwest Transylvania, where they form a large majority.

The area is considered a potential trouble spot and their demands have periodically fueled tensions with Romanians. Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918.

Iohannis said Romania's local administration should be reformed to lead to "job creation and economic growth."

President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday in Miercurea Ciuc (Harghita County) that there is a backlog of infrastructure in the Harghita and Covasna counties, pointing out that it would be "a pity" for an area with such huge tourism potential to remain disconnected from the rest of the country.

The head of state said that Harghita and Covasna have a great development potential, especially for tourism, stating that the representatives of the local public authorities have to get even more involved in capitalizing on this sector.

"There are many sectors and fields of activity worth investing in. There are historic monuments that confer a special touch to the region, balneal and spa resorts of national importance, reserves of mineral waters worth exploiting, and many folkloric and ethnographic areas that must be preserved because they have a formidable capacity to attract Romanian and foreign tourists. It is a good sign that in 2016 the number of tourist arrivals was nearly double compared to 2015 but the share of foreign tourists is still well below the national average," Iohannis detailed.

The President stressed that the modernization of the road infrastructure is key to the development of urban and rural areas, but also for increasing tourist attractiveness and, in general, economic attractiveness of the region. "It would be a great pity for an area with such a high tourist potential to remain unconnected to the rest of the country," Iohannis pointed out.

The head of state said he is well aware of the economic and demographic realities of the area, as well as the dynamics of the labor resources, mentioning that a positive aspect that caught his attention was "the cluster-building capacity of the Harghita and Covasna counties", the local initiatives, the capacity for cooperation in key areas.

The President also welcomed "inter-community collaboration" in the area, showing that the successful community projects in Harghita and Covasna "confirm the essential importance of the local solutions the good of the whole country ultimately depends upon. "Only together we can build a prosperous Romania," he said.

În his opinio0n, intolerance, the rejection of those of other ethnicity are sure ways for blocking the development of the respective communities, but also of the country overall.

"I highly appreciate the balance proven by the large majority of the local officials of Harghita and Covasna counties. You have often formed a link between the minority and the majority and, thus, you have managed to create a bridge between the local and central decision-makers. Unfortunately, though, too many times the realities of your counties, populated by Hungarians are interpreted in one way or the other, in a manner that divides, which only accentuates the differences and promotes hostility. Intolerance, the rejection of other ethnicity, whether or not practiced by representatives of minorities or majority are sure ways for blocking both the development of those communities and of the country's overall. Just like the isolation of these communities, it is not likely to favor progress, on the contrary. It is precisely the participation in the public life of the entire society which leads to a better defense of the legitimate interests of these communities," the head of the state said on Tuesday at Miercurea Ciuc.

He revealed that many years have passed since a president "stepped" in this area, on an official visit. 
"I especially wanted to come to this wonderful area, with hard working people, in order to get to know you. As you already have learned, my agenda today includes many activities. I am sure that the air here and the special natural scenery, but especially the people, will make me not only remember our meeting, but also come back soon. I have come here to listen to you very carefully. I am sure that only through dialogue and an authentic partnership, not a fake one, between representatives of the center and the local ones, the best solutions can be found to these difficulties that you are facing," the President stated.

According to him, decentralization is mandatory, regionalization is desirable, but only if it leads to the modernization of administration, however ethnicity-based autonomy is not desirable because it would inhibit development, President Klaus Iohannis said at the Harghita County Council on Tuesday. 

"There are three political themes I think you expect me to refer to - decentralization, regionalization and autonomy. Romania badly needs economic growth and modernization of the administration. In light of these goals, I believe that decentralization is mandatory, because local elected officials know best what the community needs and they must have the necessary tools at hand to act in the local interest. Regionalization is desirable, but only if done in such a way as to modernize the administration, to render it more efficient in the interest of the citizen, and if it leads to the creation of new jobs through economic growth. Local and regional autonomy, as just described, are helpful, but ethnicity-based autonomy is not desirable because it would inhibit development. These are the conclusions reached at European level, where a recommendation is also in place for regionalization, specifically for regions to not be delineated by ethnic boundary lines," said Klaus Iohannis. 

În his opinion, the successful community projects in Harghita and Covasna confirm the essential principle the good of the entire country depends on. "That only together we can build a prosperous Romania," the President said

President Klaus Iohannis payed a working visit on Tuesday in Harghita, Covasna and Vrancea counties. The head of state participated in the debate called " Coherence and transparency — examples of good practices in Harghita and Covasna countries," which was also attended by approximately 300 representatives of the local public administration of the two counties.