Christmas Eve – Orthodox, Greek-Catholic and Catholic Christians from all over the world on Monday mark Christmas Eve and make the last preparations for the Nativity of Jesus, one of the greatest celebrations of Christianity marked on December 25. A famous tradition in Romania on Christmas Eve is caroling, with carolers symbolizing the angels and shepherds who announced the Birth of Jesus. They make wishes of good health and wealth and receive fruit, bagels, sweets or money. The old rite Christians who form the majority in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia will celebrate Christmas on January 7. These days many pilgrims visit the holy sites from Israel and the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.
Justice – The Romanian justice minister Tudorel Toader announced he would finalize, on Thursday, December 27, the procedure for the dismissal of Romania’s prosecutor general Augustin Lazar, which was started in October. Toader accused Lazar of professional and managerial errors and Lazar took legal action against the justice ministry. The issue is to be judged by the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The opponents of the governing coalition claim that the dismissal of Augustin Lazar, which follows that of the former head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, Laura Codruta Kovesi, was a form of political vendetta and an attempt to stop the anti-corruption fight. In another development, minister Toader announced he signed the documents for the release from prison of a former Romanian minister Elena Udrea and a former chief of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, Alina Bica, who are in prison in Costa Rica upon the request of the Romanian authorities. The two had received definitive sentences in Romania in cases of high-level corruption. The High Court of Cassation and Justice decided on the suspension of the imprisonment conviction in their case, after the Constitutional Court of Romania ruled as illegal the setting up of the panels of 5 judges at the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The ruling also led to the suspension of the imprisonment convictions in many other cases involving former ministers and incumbent politicians.
Brexit – Romania supports the Brexit deal as well as the political declaration on the future framework of the post-Brexit relation between the EU and the UK, the Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told the BBC on Sunday. He added that, from Romania’s point of view, it was important for the UK to stay as close as possible to the EU. Teodor Melescanu also said that Romania envisaged to start bilateral negotiations with the UK as part of the strategic partnership concluded by the two sides. Minister Melescanu also reminded that at the meeting held with the former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson he received assurances that the more than 400 thousand Romanians who are in the UK would not be affected by Brexit and he gave the example of the Romanian physicians and nurses who went to the UK. Boris Johnson had stated that if these people left the UK the country’s healthcare system would be severely affected.
Jakarta – The death toll in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Indonesia following a volcanic eruption has reached 300 dead and more than 1,000 injured, the National Agency for Disaster Management announced on Monday. Scores of people are still reported missing. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the tsunami that, on Saturday, hit the southern coasts of Sumatra and the western side of the Java island.
Border traffic – More than 250 thousand people, both Romanian and foreign citizens, have crossed Romania’s borders over the past 24 hours in more than 60 thousand cars, the border police announced. Of them as many as 170 thousand entered Romania while almost 83 thousand left the country. In the same period of time, the border police identified 30 cases of crimes and 37 cases of offences perpetrated by both Romanian and foreign citizens. Also, 29 foreign citizens were denied entry to Romania as they did not comply with the legal provisions, and 16 Romanian citizens were prevented from leaving the country from various legal reasons. (translation by L. Simion)