Romanian president strips Hungarian priest of top award

Romania's president has stripped a well-known ethnic Hungarian minister of a high state honor for suggesting in 2013 that Hungary should take on the "status of protector" for ethnic Hungarians in Romania's Transylvania region.

President Klaus Iohannis says Thursday he is withdrawing the honor bestowed on Laszlo Tokes in 2009, suggesting that Tokes didn't deserve the award because he did not respect Romania's constitution. The decision comes a week after a court ruled that the award should be taken away.

Some 1.3 million ethnic Hungarians live in Romania, mostly on territory that Hungary lost after World War I.

Tokes, a Calvinist minister whose protests sparked the fall of Romania's communist regime, has had strained relations with Romanian officials because of his advocacy for greater autonomy for the country's Hungarian minority.