A review of the headline-grabbing events of the week...
Romanians mark 30 years since the anti-communist revolution of 1989
The bloodiest of Europe’s anti-communist uprisings, the Romanian Revolution of 1989 against the dictatorial regime headed by Nicolae Ceausescu started 30 years ago, in the western city of Timisoara and then extended to the other Romanian cities. Romania is the only former communist country where the transition to democracy was a violent one, and where the leaders of the dictatorial regime were executed. Historian Constantin Corneanu, a scientific director with the Institute of the Romanian Revolution, says that the whole Europe was waiting for a change of regime in Romania: “Europe was waiting for a regime change and the revolution came as an answer to what the then French President, Francois Mitterand, said in the European Parliament on November 23, 1989: ‘We are waiting for the voice of the Romanian people.’ All other peoples had taken to the streets in Prague, Warsaw, Eastern Berlin, Budapest, Sofia. Romanians were the only ones who had not reacted, so all eyes were on Romania and on Bucharest. We reacted eventually, but the price was huge.”
The European Parliament has for the first time devoted one of its debates to the Romanian anticommunist revolution of 1989. A European Commission declaration evokes the violence that marked the Romanian revolution and the people's struggle to topple the oppressive communist regime. The European Parliament passed a resolution in which it pays homage to the victims of the Romanian revolution and their families. The document emphasizes the fact that it was their sacrifice that made possible Romania’s transition to democracy, the rule of law, market economy and the country’s accession to NATO and the EU. Moreover, the EP called on Romania to intensify its efforts to find out the truth about the events that took place 30 years ago. The Bucharest Parliament also marked 30 years since the 1989 Revolution, through a solemn meeting.
The Orban Government is to assume responsibility for the 2020 draft budget
Ludovic Orban’s Liberal Government has finalized next year’s draft budget, built on a 4.1% economic growth rate, a 3.65% budget deficit and an average inflation rate of more than 3.1% and has decided to assume responsibility for it in Parliament next week, which would be a first in Romania. Shortly after the decision made by the National Liberal Party and unhappy with the fact that the bill will was likely to dodge talks and voting in Parliament, the Social Democratic Party, the largest parliamentary party, now in opposition, threatened it would challenge the bill at the Constitutional Court.
In a in interview on Radio Romania, PM Orban explained that the solution to assume responsibility was chosen as the only way in which next year’s budget could be voted by December 31st. Ludovic Orban has given assurances that next year salaries in the public sector will grow and has presented some of the decisions that would save budget money: “We have frozen bonuses for dignitaries. We have cut subsidies for political parties by 30% and we have banned the aggregation of both state pensions and salaries.”
The social security budget will grow next year by 23% as compared to 2019. Pensions will grow too, as provided by the law, with the exception of the minimum ones, for those who have not contributed to the pension fund. The PM has also stated that investments will grow too.
President Klaus Iohannis talks about his first term at the helm of the country
On Thursday, just two days before being sworn in for the second term, Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis talked about his first five years at the helm of the country. The most important objective of his first term was maintaining Romania’s pro-European and democratic path, against the background of major challenges, that threatened to throw this country away from the western road, Klaus Iohannis stated. Domestically, the priority was the good functioning of the public authorities. On the other hand, the head of state said that ‘Educated Romania’ was his soul project, and a strategy was developed to that end. As regards the economy, the president said he acted to stop slippages and carried a constructive dialogue with the business environment.
The Bucharest Tribunal gives sentences in the Colectiv case
4 years after the tragic fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, which killed 64 people, the Bucharest Tribunal has this week given several prison sentences. The former mayor of Bucharest District 4, Cristian Popescu, got 8 years and 6 months in prison, for abuse of office. The three owners of the club were each sentenced to 11 years and 8 months in prison for aggravated manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and for failing to enforce the legal health and safety measures. The owners of the fireworks company were sentenced to 12 years and 8 months and 3 years and 6 months, respectively, while the workers who staged the fireworks show were sentenced to 8, 9 and 10 years respectively. The two employees of the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations who checked the club without taking the necessary compliance measures were each sentenced to 9 years and 2 months in prison. All the people convicted in this case must pay to the survivors and the victims’ families damages worth 50 million Euros. The decision can be appealed.
(Translated by Elena Enache/Mihaela Ignatescu)