Romania’s former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase is set to have a high-level award rescinded after President Klaus Iohannis says officials who later went to prison are not deserving of the honor.
Iohannis says he will remove presidential awards of anyone who subsequently had a criminal conviction that resulted in a prison sentence. Nastase is the believed to be the highest-ranking official the measure will apply to.
The issue of awards given to Romanians who later fell into disgrace came under the spotlight after Nastase was invited to a reception last month at the Cotroceni Palace to celebrate Romania’s National Day which falls on Dec. 1
“I can tell you I have decided to remove all the decorations of those with criminal convictions… I have begun this action and it will be finalized shortly and I will publish the list of those decrees where I have withdrawn the order,” Iohannis said Tuesday.
Nastase, 69, received the invitation to the reception because he had been decorated with the Order of the Star of Romania, with the rank of Grand Cross in 2002 when he was prime minister.
Romanian law says that people who have been decorated by the president are automatically invited to the National Day reception.
The law also allows for decorations to be removed if someone is subsequently sentenced to prison, as in Nastase’s case.
Nastase was handed a two-year prison sentence in 2012 for misuse of a publicly funded conference to raise cash for his unsuccessful campaign in 2004. He was the first former Romanian prime minister to go to jail. He received a second sentence of four years for bribery in 2014, but was released early.
Nastase was prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and lost the presidential race that year to Traian Basescu, who served two terms in office.
Also Tuesday, Iohannis gave outgoing U.S. ambassador to Romania, Hans Klemm, the Star of Romania order. Iohannis said the strategic partnership between Romania and the U.S. was “more solid and dynamic than at any moment in its history.”
Romania and U.S will celebrate 140 years of diplomatic relations in 2020.
Iohannis said the bilateral relationship was passed on “common values such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights.”