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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Romanian head in new gaffe probe
By Razvan Scortea
BBC News, Bucharest

Romanian President Traian Basescu. File photo
Mr Basescu could now face a fine and a criminal record
Romanian President Traian Basescu is being investigated by the country's anti-discrimination watchdog for the second time in a matter of months.

Last weekend, Mr Basescu told a surgeon who carried out a minor operation on him: "Finally, I see a good Armenian."

Romania's ethnic Armenians are meeting on Wednesday to discuss the incident.

Mr Basescu had already been cautioned by the watchdog this year after describing a Romanian journalist as "a dirty gypsy".

'Competent Armenian'

President Basescu's thyroid operation appears to have gone well.

The complications only began as he was leaving the hospital, and they were not health related.

In front of several journalists and medical staff, the president thanked the surgeon, Mircea Ghemigian, with the words: "Finally, I see a good Armenian." He then quickly added, "a competent Armenian".

Following the incident, a Romanian newspaper contacted the country's anti-discrimination watchdog, which confirmed that the matter would be investigated.

Varujuan Pambuccian, an ethnic Armenian MP, told the BBC that he did not consider President Basescu's statement "too serious".

Nevertheless, he said that representatives of Romania's ethnic Armenian minority would be discussing the issue on Wednesday.

'Gypsy' remark

President Basescu was cautioned by the anti-discrimination body in May following a bizarre incident.

The president was doing his shopping when he was approached by a TV reporter.

Mr Basescu confiscated the reporter's mobile phone without realising that it was still on.

Mr Basescu was then heard talking privately to his wife and describing the journalist as "a dirty gypsy".

If his latest statement is also considered discriminatory, the president could face another caution, or more seriously, a fine and a criminal record.


SEE ALSO
Romania president survives vote
20 May 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Romania
21 May 07 |  Country profiles

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