The week's headline grabbing events...
The head of state held consultations with the parliamentary parties on the referendum of justice
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday and Friday held consultations with the parliamentary parties on the referendum on justice scheduled for May 26, concurrently with the election for European Parliament. After Thursday’s talks with the parties in the opposition, namely the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Save Romania Union (URS) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP) as well as with the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and the national minorities’ group other than the Hungarian one, President Iohannis said that the Social Democratic Party’s siege of the justice system for the past two years must receive an answer from the Romanians, through public consultation. According to Klaus Iohannis, Romanians want a country with an independent justice system, which is not influenced by politics. PNL has announced it fully supports the referendum, USR believes that consulting the people on this matter is important, while PMP has proposed that, at the referendum, there should also be a question on reducing the number of MPs or on the elimination of the special pensions granted at present to certain professional categories. Consultations with the Social Democrats and with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the junior partner in the governing coalition, had been scheduled for Friday. The latter refused to participate arguing that the meeting would only be a formality, given that President Iohannis had already taken the decision to organize the referendum. The PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea, in turn sent a delegation to represent the party. The consultations of May 26 were held against the background of frequent legislative changes in the judicial system promoted by the ruling coalition, made up of the PSD and ALDE, which have been harshly criticized by Romania’s European partners. The themes of the referendum refer to banning the amnesty and the pardoning of corruption crimes and also banning the passing of emergency decrees in the field of crimes, sentences and judicial organization.
The 1989 Revolution case, in court
Romania’s Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar has announced that the indictment in the 1989 Revolution case has been submitted to court, after years of investigations. Lazar has publicly presented the Public Ministry’s apologies for the excessive length of the investigation – almost 30 years . The former president Ion Iliescu and the former deputy prime minister, Gelu Voican Voiculescu have been charged in this case for crimes against humanity. They allegedly launched diversions and disinformation in order to take over power, after the fall of the communist dictatorship, between December 22 and 31, 1989, when they had important positions in the National Salvation Front Council, holding the executive and legislative power at the time. More than 1,000 people were killed and some 3,000 were wounded in the fighting at that time, most of them after Ceausescu’s repressive system had fallen, Romania thus being the only East European country where the regime change involved bloodshed. The completion of the Revolution case file and its submittal to Court have triggered reactions from Romanian politicians. On the one hand, President Klaus Iohannis, the opposition National Liberal Party and the Save Romania Union party have hailed the announcement made by the Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar, considering it an extremely important step towards establishing the truth. On the other hand, the ruling Social-Democratic Party believes that the truth should have been uncovered long ago, and that the case could have been forwarded to court one month later, after the European Parliament elections.
Brexit – a new extension
The European leaders and the British PM Theresa May agreed in Brussels on a new Brexit postponement, to the end of October, with a progress review due at the European Council meeting of June 20-21. PM May had requested a deferral to June 30, to allow the British Parliament to reach a consensus. It is a flexible extension, an additional 6 months for Britain to find the best possible solution, said the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, who added that, at least for the time being, the threat of a brutal no-deal exit has been removed. At the special European Council on Brexit, Romania was represented by President Klaus Iohannis, who supported the additional extension of the deadline to enable the ratification of the withdrawal agreement by the British Parliament. The postponement allows for an "orderly withdrawal, ensuring certainty for the European citizens living in the UK and for the British citizens in the EU, as well as for companies and the business environment," reads a news release issued by the Presidency. The head of state also called for a "comprehensive and ambitious" future partnership between the European Union and Britain, one which should cover both economic and trade aspects, and security, defence and foreign relations. Unless it ratifies the withdrawal agreement by May 22, Britain will have to organize elections for the European Parliament. If the UK fails to hold the elections, it will have to leave the EU on June 1, 2019.
Romania is hosting the largest medical exercise in the history of the North-Atlantic Alliance
Vigorous Warrior 19, the largest medical exercise in the history of NATO was held in Romania, covering all three levels: ground, air and sea. Some 2,000 soldiers, fire-fighters, military doctors, paramedics, nurses and civilian volunteers from 40 member and partners states simulated interventions in case of a military conflict affecting urban areas. The most important stage of the exercise was hosted by the Getica Joint National Training Centre in Cincu, Brasov county. 14 military facilities have been built there, from the simplest ones, such as triage and ER, to a modular ROL3 hospital, where complex surgical procedures can be carried out. Also participating in the Vigurous Warrior 19 exercise were military helicopters used to evacuate the wounded. Besides the one in Cincu, the NATO medical exercise had another two stages, one in the Romanian Black Sea Port of Constanta, in the south-east, and the other one in Bucharest. In another development, the capital Bucharest also hosted, on Thursday night, the largest underground intervention simulation in the past 30 years. The location for the drill was the Piata Romana metro station in the centre of the city.