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Romania, flag law

Last modified: 2004-07-03 by rob raeside
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Information on the flag law

Romania's flag is enshrined in article 12 of the constitution: "The flag of Romania is tricolor; the colors are arranged vertically in the following order from the flag pole: blue, yellow, and red." A constitutional revision would be needed to change the flag, and the constitution requires that such revisions must pass both chambers of
parliament *and* be put to the people for final approval in a referendum. More details can be found at
Jan Oskar Engene, 14 November 2002

This information was provided by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania:

12 April 1995

On the 28th of March, 1995 the Senate of the Romanian Parliament approved some amendments to the Penal Code. These amendments include Art. 236 on offences against state insignia.

The new wording of Art. 236 as adopted by the Senate reads as follows:

Art 236. - Offences Against State Insignia

Manifestations of any kind expressing contempt for the insignia of the Romanian state are punishable by a prison term of six months to six years.

The same punishment applies to the displaying of the flag or insignia or the playing of the national anthem of other states in public under other conditions that the ones provided for by law.

Manifestations expressing contempt for the emblems or insignia used by the authorities are punishable by a prison term of three months to one year or fine.

Art. 236'. Public defamation by any means of the Romanian country or nation shall be punished by a prison term of one to five years.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania is deeply concerned about the adoption by the Senate of Art. 236 of the Penal Code since it represents an unacceptable restriction of the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a document ratified by the Romanian Parliament.

The vague, unspecified wording of the provisions contained in Art. 236. gives room for an arbitrary interpretation of the legal text. For instance, neither paragraph of Art. 236. nor any other article of the Penal Code or Constitution provide for a clear understanding of the term "contempt" in legal context. In Art. 236. the object of offence, the Romanian country or nation, is too generally worded and similarly, the term of "defamation" lacks any clear definition.

The arbitrary interpretation of this vaguely worded legal text allows for the violation of the individual rights of the Romanian citizens and endangers the independent functioning of the judiciary, which is the precise opposite of the rule of law.

The President's Office
Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania

Tamas Rumi, 6 October 1995

Blue flag on schools

Alexander Justice asked: can anyone explain the blue flags?

Protesters hoisted blue flags on school roofs, while families and Roman Catholic priests planned to begin forming human chains around schools.
The law that stipulates obligatory education in Romanian for all citizens has caused neighbouring Hungary to break off negotiations on a friendship treaty with Romania.

I suppose the background story of blue flag is simple. In Hungary, when teachers of schools had strike against something new decision of the (Hungarian) government, maybe they fought for their salaries, all of teacher and people who agreed with them, used blue ribbon. Because of the simple fact, that teachers used blue ribbon, and blue flag, this thing became a symbol representing them. Therefore, if any teacher want to express his/her opinion - he/she uses that.

It is interesting that a blue flag appeared in Romania. It seems that Hungarians of Transylvania continue this custom.

On the other hand the use of the Hungarian flag is prohibited by law. So Hungarians have had to find another symbol if they do not want to walk into the prison. Actually, they use a white ribbon instead of red-white-green flags.

In the above-mentioned case, Hungarian schools had to be decorated with blue flags. I wonder if they used blue or white ribbons as well. These blue flags symbolizes Hungarians' opinion on the newest anti-Hungarian law of Romania. (I am not sure that this law is a milestone on the road toward Europe...)

Hungarian teachers are against a governmental decision - they use blue flags.

By the way: this blue flag should be light blue, not dark blue, but I think the meaning for latter case is same.

Tamas Rumi 24 November 1995

Revised flag law of September 1996

The parliament of Romania last week (17 September 1996) lifted the prohibition of flying foreign flags. It looks as if this is a sign of good-will to the Hungarian minority living in Transylvania. Last year the Romanian parliament prohibited the display of flags of foreign countries. This measure was generally seen as been directed against the Hungarian minority which often uses the Hungarian tricolour. Romania and Hungary signed on 16 September last in Timisoara an agreement to resolve all bilateral problems - including the minority problem.

Source: NRC Handelsblad (Rotterdam), 19 September 1996.

Jos Poels, 23 September 1996

Discussion in 2002 about addition of arms to the flag

On 13 November 2002, the Mediafax news agency in Bucharest reported that the Romanian flag has been changed. Apparently a committee charged with revising the constitution has restored a coat of arms to the national flag. This is the same coat of arms adopted in 1992.
Mark Denten, 13 November 2002

It appears that this report was premature. The following texts were found:

"Drapelul national va avea din nou o stemă în centru BUCURESTI, 12 nov (MEDIAFAX) - Stema României va fi introdusă în centrul drapelului national, pe culoarea galben, pentru prima oară după 1989, conform unei decizii adoptate, marti, de Comisia pentru revizuirea Constitutiei. Legea fundamentală va specifica includerea stemei pe drapel, în conditiile în care actuala Constitutie nu are un asemenea detaliu."

and (from this website)

"Revine stema pe drapel? Comisia de revizuirea Constitutiei a luat in dezbatere problema introducerii stemei pe drapelul Romaniei, membrii comisiei solicitand, in acest sens, un aviz din partea Academiei Romane, a declarat, ieri, secretarul Camerei Deputatilor, Tudor Mohora. Mohora a aratat ca presedintele Camerei Deputatilor a facut aceasta precizare in sedinta Biroului Permanent, ca urmare a propunerii deputatului apartinand minoritatilor nationale Metin Cerchez de a se aplica stema pe drapelul Romaniei. Metin Cerchez a aratat ca propunerea sa trebuie inclusa de urgenta pe ordinea de zi a Camerei Deputatilor, deoarece, in prezent, drapelul Romaniei seamana cu cel al Repubilcii Ciad, iar in preajma aderarii tarii noastre la NATO este "imperios necesara asezarea stemei pe drapel". Tudor Mohora a spus ca aceasta problema nu poate fi reglementata printr-o lege, ci prin modificarea Constitutiei. Biroul Permanent a decis, insa, sa solicite comisiei juridice sa se pronunte in legatura cu acest subiect, a adaugat Mohora. (M.F.)"

which we understand to indicate that discussion took place about legislative proposals to look at with the possibility to modify and supplement Law nr. 75/1994 on the hoisting of the flag of Romania, intonation of the national anthem and usage of seals with the Romanian arms by authorities and public institutions. The reasons for this proposal was to distinguish the Romanian flag from that of Chad. The proposal seems to have been dropped.

Ivan Sache, Pascal Vagnat, 15 November 2002