PM Tudose to have talks tomorrow with NGOs involved in the ongoing street protests
CHRISTMAS – In Romania, Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Christians celebrate today, on the second day of Christmas, the Synaxis of the Theotokos, which is a celebration of Mary, the Mother of God. This is one of the oldest feast days devoted to Virgin Mary, dating back to the 5th Century. The Synaxis of the Theotokos is the assembly of believers to honour the one through whom the incarnation of God was possible. Also today, Roman Catholic Christians celebrate St Stephen, the first martyr.
HOLIDAYS – Thousands of Romanians are spending their winter holidays in the mountain resorts in Valea Prahovei region in the south, in Maramures in the north-west of the country and in Bucovina, in the north-east. Sinaia and Buşteni, on Prahova Valley, are among the most popular resorts in the country at this time of the year. In Bâlea Lac, in Făgăraş Mountains, at over 2,000 m altitude, the new Ice Hotel, the only one of its kind in Romania, was opened on Sunday. Most of the tourists having booked a room here come from abroad.
ROYAL HOUSE – The Royal House of Romania attended on Tuesday the Christmas service held at the Orthodox church in Săvârşin, the west of Romania. The royals are on 40-day mourning after the death of Romania’s last king, Michael I. He passed away on December 5, aged 96, and was buried on December 16, in Curtea de Arges, southern Romania, where the other 3 monarchs of Romania are also interred. Tens of thousands of people took part in the national funerals of the one they regard as a model of dignity, honour, devotion and love for the country.
CONSULTATIONS – The PM of Romania, Mihai Tudose, has agreed to hold talks tomorrow with representatives of over 40 NGOs involved in the street protests against the controversial changes in the justice laws. The organisations had sent the PM an open letter expressing their willingness to contribute to dialogue, consultation and solutions, in full compliance with the rule of law, democratic principles and fundamental human rights. They say there have been major deficiencies in the dialogue and consultations between lawmakers and society with respect to the justice laws and the changes of the criminal codes. On Friday, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, sent a letter to President Klaus Iohannis, urging him to request an official opinion from the Venice Commission with respect to the legislative reform endorsed by Parliament. Previously, the embassies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden to Bucharest issued a joint letter calling on all stakeholders in the judiciary reform process to avoid measures that would weaken the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption. In response, the Foreign Ministry said strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption are among the priorities of the Government of Romania. In turn, the leaders of ruling coalition made up of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Romania, Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, respectively, promised that the Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, and Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu would inform embassies properly with respect to the legislative changes in this field.
EU – The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that if the EU managed to get a smart deal with Britain that governs relations with Europe after Brexit, it could be a model for other countries. The German diplomat added that Turkey and Ukraine are not likely to get full EU membership very soon, which is why the EU should consider alternative forms of closer cooperation. Gabriel also suggested that such an approach could take the form of a closer customs union with Turkey. Although the current situation proves that that country is still rather far from joining the EU, recent moves by Ankara indicate willingness to improve relations with Brussels, the German official also said. Shortly before Christmas, Turkey decided to free a German pilgrim after nearly 9 months of detention, and a German journalist who had spent 7 months in custody over alleged ties with a terrorist organisation.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)