DEFENCE The Supreme Defence Council convenes in Bucharest on Friday to review the request made by the Defence Minister, Gabriel Leş, regarding the filling of high-level vacancies in the Romanian Army, the Presidency announced. The Defence Minister had previously announced he would not extend Gen. Nicolae Ciucă’s term in office as Chief of Staff, due to conclude on December 31st. The latest Supreme Defence Council meeting was held on December 19th, when the Army’s procurement plan for 2019 – 2028 was approved, along with the forces and equipment that Romania will deploy next year for missions and operations abroad. 1902 Romanian troops will take part in international operations, which is 127 more than this year, while the Interior Ministry will contribute 759 troops and police to EU, OSCE, NATO and UN missions. Romania will continue to take part in NATO’s "Resolute Support" mission in Afghanistan and will maintain its contribution to Allied operations in the Western Balkans. Also, for the first time, a transport and evacuation helicopter unit will participate in the UN mission in Mali.
JUDICIARY The Prosecutor General of Romania, Augustin Lazar, says his dismissal as requested by the Justice Minister Tudorel Toader disregards the law and the EU recommendations, and is of a strictly political nature. Lazar argues that Minister Toader’s statements and measures are liable to undermine the public confidence in the ability of the judicial system to perform its constitutional role. The Justice Minister had announced he would send President Klaus Iohannis the documents to complete Lazar’s removal from office, initiated in October. The head of state described the measure as a mistake, and the prosecutor section of the Higher Council of Magistracy did not agree with the dismissal. Lazar, accused by the Justice Minister of professional and managerial underperformance, filed a lawsuit against the decision, which is to be tried by the Supreme Court. The Opposition in Bucharest says that the attempt to dismiss Lazar, after this summer the National Anti-Corruption Directorate chief Laura Codruta Kovesi was also sacked, is a form of political retaliation and a move designed to hinder the fight against corruption.
BORDER Border police from Romania and the Republic of Moldova will set up joint teams to monitor the common state line. The joint patrols will help improve cooperation in view of combating cross-border crime, the authorities of the 2 states explain. A protocol in this respect was signed on November 22nd in Bucharest, during a joint meeting of the 2 national governments. The Republic of Moldova has a similar agreement signed with its other neighbour, Ukraine.
HANDBALL Romania’s men’s handball team is playing against the Czech Republic on Friday, in the semi-finals of the “4 Nations Cup” held in Poland. In the other semi-final, the host country is facing Japan. On Saturday the 2 winners will play against each other, and so will the other 2 semi-finalists. After New Year’s the national team, coached by Spain’s Manuel Montoya and the Romanian Eliodor Voica will be on a training session in Slovakia, followed by a tournament with Croatia and Netherlands also taking part. The Romanians failed to qualify to the World Championship due in Germany and Denmark next month. The Romanian women’s team however has already booked its ticket to next year’s World Championship in Japan, after finishing 4th in the European Championship in France this month.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)