Accessibility links

Breaking News

Germany Concerned About 'Polarization,' Violence In Romania Over Corruption

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (file photo)

Germany's top diplomat says he's concerned about "growing polarization" in Romania over the fight against anticorruption, which he said led to the violence that broke out at street protests against graft.

"It's not the discussion as such that worries us, as that has to take place. It is the harshness of the debate, which has led to violent confrontations," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on a visit to Bucharest on August 27.

Maas was referring to a clash between police and protesters at the end of a mass protest in Bucharest on August 10 that resulted in more than 450 people being treated for injuries, including 30 police.

He called for both sides to search for a "compromise" on judicial reform which would preserve fundamental rights and the governmental balance of powers while bringing Romanian society back together.

Thousands of Romanians have staged protests since the Social Democratic Party won power in 2016, contending that the government wants to dilute the fight against graft.

The government, contending that the nation's anticorruption agency has unfairly targeted some politicians, passed judicial reforms that the protesters and other critics say weaken the nation's judicial system.

During his visit to Bucharest on August 27, Maas held talks with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu. Talks with President Klaus Iohannis are also planned.

Iohannis, like Maas, has also decried the tough police response to the protests on August 10, calling it "disproportionate" at the time.

Romania takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1. Maas said he was confident Romania is capable of taking on the big role for the first time since it joined the EU in 2007.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa