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EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN – Tens of people were killed in a powerful earthquake that shook southern Japan on Friday, the second in the last couple of days. Some 70,000 people were evacuated and taken to special shelters. The earthquake raised several buildings to the ground, destroyed roadways and water and electricity grids. International press agencies write that 20,000 soldiers were called to help rescue the survivors. Japanese officials said it was hard to ascertain the scale of the catastrophe, as the most affected areas are in isolated mountain regions.
GLOBSEC – The prospects and importance of intensifying EU support for reforms allowing the Republic of Moldova to continue its European track were on the agenda for talks between Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu and his Molodvan counterpart Andrei Galbur. On this occasion, Comanescu reiterated Bucharest’s firm support for the European integration efforts of Moldova. According to a press release of the Romanian Foreign Ministry, the meeting was held on the sidelines of the Global Security Forum held in Bratislava. An event boasting a tradition spanning over a decade, GLOBSEC has become an important foreign policy and security platform, bringing together high-ranking officials and renowned experts from Europe and North America.
PROTEST – Liberal MEP Cristian Busoi has called on the Foreign Ministry and the authorities in Bucharest to take action with respect to the international conference of the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom, which the French National Front leader Marine Le Pen is expected to attend. Her presence will undermine Romania’s confidence in the EU and will covertly or overtly support Russia in its efforts to divide and conquer Europe, Busoi writes in a press release. Social Democrat MEPs Victor Bostinaru and Ioan Mircea Pascu have also criticized the relevant authorities who sanctioned this conference in Romania. The two MEPs warned that apart from the National Front, MENF is rallying far-right parties such as FPO from Austria, Vlaams Belang of Belgium or Lega Nord of Italy, all of which have taken a hostile stance against the European Union and NATO and expressed their support for the Russian Federation, which Bostinaru and Pascu claim to be financing these political factions.
POPE FRANCIS – Pope Francis on Saturday is paying a symbolic visit to Lesbos Island in Greece, to express solidarity with all migrants, the Vatican has announced. The visit is also an ecumenical effort, as Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople will also be present in Lesbos. The two officials are visiting the refugee camp housing over 3,000 people, currently waiting to be granted asylum or to be deported into Turkey, where they are detained in inhumane conditions. The Pope has repeatedly called for compassion for the people fleeing wars, terror and poverty.
TENNIS – Romania’s Fed Cup team on Saturday and Sunday is taking on Germany, in Cluj in the World Group playoffs. In the first match on Saturday, Irina Begu (WTA’s no 35) will meet Angelique Kerber (WTA’s no. 3), whereas in the second singles tennis match, Simona Halep (WTA’s no 6) will face Andrea Petkovic (WTA’s no.30). On Sunday, Halep is due to meet Kerber, and the last singles tennis match will be played by Begu and Petkovic. In the doubles, the pair Alexandra Dulgheru/Monica Niculescu will meet Annika Beck/Julia Goerges. In February, in the first round of the competition, Romania lost to the Czech Republic, the defending champion, 2-3, and Germany was defeated by Switzerland, with the same score. Germany ranks fourth and Romania ninth in the FED Cup classification.
RALLY – Hundreds of Romanians in Italy today took part in solidarity rally in Rome, Milan and Bologna as a show of solidarity with the mixed Norwegian-Romanian family Ruth and Marius Bodnariu, whose children were taken into custody by Norwegian authorities, claiming the minors had been physically abused. Protesters told Radio Romania’s correspondent in Italy they want Bucharest authorities to get involved in solving the case and contribute to reuniting the Bodnariu family. We recall that the family’s youngest, still a baby, was returned to their parents, while the other four have been entrusted to other families.
(Translated by V. Palcu)