Transport - More than 260 kilometers of highway and expressway are now under construction in Romania, and contracts have been signed for another 131 kilometers of highway, with works being about to begin. The announcement was made by the Transport Minister, Sorin Grindeanu, in a press conference during which he presented the situation of the first eight months of this year, for large infrastructure projects. Regarding the railway system, the official announced investments for the modernization of 250 kilometers of railway. Grindeanu also stated that, from the beginning of the year until August 1, financing contracts for all types of transport worth approximately 4.7 billion Euros were signed at the transport ministry.
Population – On January 1, 2022, Romania's resident population exceeded 19 million people, a decrease by 163,000 people as compared to the beginning of last year, data provided by the National Institute of Statistics - INS show. Romania loses annually a number of people equal to the population of a city like Arad or Piteşti, say the representatives of the Institute. The main cause of this decrease is the negative natural population growth, the number of deceased persons significantly exceeding the number of live births. The INS data also show that the demographic aging process has deepened, with Romania registering, in early 2022, a number of 123.6 people over 64 for every 100 young people.
Ukraine – The defense ministers from the European Union reached an agreement on the creation of a military assistance mission for Ukraine, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said on Tuesday. "It is not just about the war, but also about the way it is being waged, about the training of the military", he declared after an informal meeting in Prague. On the ground, the Ukrainian army launched a vigorous counter-offensive against the invading Russian troops in the country’s occupied south. The Ukrainian counterattack is mainly aimed at retaking control of Kherson, a city of 280,000 inhabitants before the war started, which fell in the Russian hands at the start of the invasion on February 24. "Today there have been strong artillery attacks on enemy positions (...) throughout the territory of the occupied Kherson region. This is the announcement we've been waiting for since spring. It is the beginning of the end of the occupation in the Kherson region" - deputy Serghei Klan announced on the Ukrainian television. The Ukrainian military are already talking about the withdrawal of a unit of pro-Russian separatist fighters from the region. On the other hand, Russia claims that it rejected the attempts of the Ukrainians to advance into the regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv, also in the south.
EU – Germany and France reject, in a joint position paper, the proposal of some member countries to ban entry into the European Union for all Russian citizens, dpa reports. Even if it accepts that visa applications made by Russian citizens should be examined carefully for potential security risks, the document warns against underestimating "the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems first-hand." A general ban could lead to the amplification of the nationalist and anti-European sentiment in Russia, the French-German paper also states. Romania will support the suspension of the Agreement with Russia to facilitate the granting of visas, which is one of the topics of the meeting of the European foreign ministers that began on Tuesday in Prague. The Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, will plead for restricting the movement of Russian citizens in the community space, even for tourist purposes. The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Union, hopes for a consensus of the 27 member states to implement this measure, requested by Finland and supported by the Baltic countries, by October.
Tennis – The Romanian tennis player Elena-Gabriela Ruse (24 years old, 101 WTA) qualified for the second round of the US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, after 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 with the Australian of Russian origin Daria Saville, ex Gavrilova (28 years old, 58 WTA). In the second round, Gabriela Ruse will meet the American player Coco Gauff (18 years old, 12 WTA). The former world leader Simona Halep, currently world no. 7, was surprisingly defeated by the Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur, 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. Jaqueline Cristian (24 years, 77 WTA) was also eliminated as she was defeated by the Estonian Anett Kontaveit (26 years, 2 WTA), 6-3, 6-0, in 66 minutes. (LS)