COMMEMORATION In Timişoara (western Romania), events devoted to the December 1989 anti-communist uprising continue today. A commemorative plaque offered by the US president was put up at the former military unit in Freedom Square. Sirens sounded at noon, to mark the day when Timisoara became the first Romanian city free from communism. Near Bucharest, a group of descendants of Revolution heroes, who are marching to the capital city, took part in a religious ceremony in the village of Popeşti-Leordeni, where the ashes of the revolutionaries shot in Timişoara and cremated in Bucharest had been disposed of, 30 years ago. On Thursday the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the commemoration of the Romanian Revolution, paying tribute to the heroes that sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy. The European Parliament also requests the Romanian government to step up efforts to find out the truth about those events. EU institutions and national parliaments are urged to do everything in their power to ensure that the crimes committed by the communist regimes will never be repeated.
PRESIDENCY President Klaus Iohannis will be sworn in on Saturday before the joint chambers of Parliament. Presenting a report on his first term in office yesterday, Klaus Iohannis said the past 5 years had seen major challenges, perhaps the most serious of which was for Romania to divert from its Western democratic path. In terms of foreign policy, the president mentioned that he had focused on strengthening Romania’s role as a EU and NATO member and on extending and reinforcing the strategic partnership with the US. Domestically, Klaus Iohannis added, his priorities were to ensure the proper functioning of public authorities. He reiterated that during the past 3 years, under successive Social Democratic governments, attempts were made at hijacking the government and weakening the state by means of undermining the judiciary, and that he made use of all constitutional mechanisms in order to counter these undemocratic forces.
GOVERNMENT The Liberal PM Ludovic Orban reiterated for Radio Romania that requesting Parliament’s confidence is the only way for the 2020 state budget bill to be endorsed by December 31st. The PM also promised that public sector salaries will be raised next year and presented a number of economic decisions. Orban has also announced that the government has frozen allowances for senior civil servants, decided that public sector salaries and pensions can no longer be received concurrently by the same individual, and that subsidies for political parties have been cut by 30%. Orban promised that infrastructure investments will be increased next year. On Monday the Government is seeking a vote of confidence in Parliament for the state budget and social security budget bills, as well as for a bill amending the Government Emergency Order no. 114.
HEARINGS The former Romanian interior minister Carmen Dan is being heard today as a witness by the Directorate Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism, in an investigation into the gendarme intervention during the August 10, 2018 protest of the Romanian diaspora in Bucharest. The investigation was taken over by the Directorate from the Military Prosecutor’s Office Division. Senior gendarme officers are being probed into. On August 10, tens of thousands of people, including Romanians living abroad, gathered in Bucharest’s Victoria Square to demand the resignation of Viorica Dăncilă’s Cabinet. People were disgruntled with the Social Democrats’ repeated attacks against the justice system, and with the dismissal of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate chief Laura Codruța Kovesi.
WORKERS The Government of Romania decided that the limit for foreign workers in 2020 stay at 30,000 people, as it was in 2019, the PM’s chief of staff Ionel Dancă announced on Friday. The decision took into account Romania’s economic growth potential, the workforce demand in certain sectors or professions, which cannot be covered by Romanian workers, as well as the need to prevent situations where foreigners work in Romania illegally. Romania is facing a labour shortage as large numbers of its citizens have sought employment in other EU member states.
BREXIT In London, the House of Commons is discussing today the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill. According to Radio Romania’s correspondent in London, the Brexit deal will include a provision prohibiting a further extension of the transition period beyond the end of 2020. On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II read out in Parliament the legislative priorities of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, which include the UK leaving the EU on January 31, higher investments in healthcare and the implementation of a new immigration system.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)