KING MICHAEL – Every evening until December 10 religious services will be held at King Michael’s residence in Switzerland, where he spent most of his life in exile and where he also died, the Royal House announced. In the country, Romanians continue to bring flowers and candles in front of the former royal palace in Bucharest and at the Elisabeta Palace, the late King’s residence in the capital city. King Michael’s body will be flown to the country on Wednesday, December 13, and placed at the Peles Castle in Sinaia, in the southern Carpathians. On the evening of the same day, the coffin will be brought to the Royal Palace in Bucharest. The funeral will take place on Saturday, December 16, in Curtea de Arges, southern Romania, where all Romania’s former kings are interred. The Government declared a national mourning on December 14, 15 and 16. On Monday, December 11, the joint chambers of the Romanian Parliament will pay tribute to the former sovereign in a solemn session. The King of Romania between 1940 and 1947, Michael I passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 96.
PROTESTS – Hundreds of people last night picketed the building of the Romanian Parliament, to protest the changes brought to the law on the status of magistrates, which were subject to a vote in the Chamber of Deputies. Traffic in the area was disrupted and incidents were reported, involving the protesters and the police. Unplanned protests were also held in the cities of Cluj Napoca, in the north-west, and Constanta in the south-east. The participants demanded that the Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea step down as Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, given that he has already received a suspended sentence and is prosecuted in two other cases. MPs from Power and Opposition also traded insults and invectives during the meeting.
BUDGET LAW – Leaders of the Romanian Parliament are to set today a roadmap for the endorsement of the 2018 state budget law. The bill was passed by the Government on Wednesday, and is based on a forecast economic growth rate of 5.5% and a 3.1% annual inflation rate. Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said it was the first time that the country’s GDP exceeded 200 billion euros, which would allow for salary and pension increases.
DIPLOMACY – The US Ambassador to Bucharest, Hans Klemm, accuses Moscow of conducting misinformation campaigns aimed at generating confusion and division among NATO member states. Taking advantage of our democratic societies, Russia seeks to influence public opinion and often to influence elections as well, by disseminating fake news, the American diplomat said at a public debate organised in the north-western city of Cluj. On the other hand, he once again called on Romania to further fight corruption and defend the independence of the judiciary.
MIDDLE EAST – US President Donald Trump’s recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel triggered strong international condemnation. The UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting on Friday, at the request of 8 members, including the UK and France. The Arab League announced an emergency meeting on Saturday. All Palestinian organisations criticized the move and called for strikes and protests, while many countries in the region warned that the decision would entail religious tensions. Turkey threatened to break ties with Israel. Another US ally, Saudi Arabia, slammed Trump’s decision as “irresponsible”. Traditional US allies from Europe also voiced opposition to the move, whereas Russia and China have expressed concerns that conflicts in the region will be exacerbated.
HANDBALL – Romania’s women’s handball team is playing tonight against Angola, in Group A of the World Championships hosted by Germany. The Romanians have already secured their qualification in the round of 16, after having defeated Paraguay, Slovenia and Spain. On Friday they will play the last match in the group, against France. Romania won the bronze medal in the 2015 championship, and is the only team to have taken part in all the 22 world championship final tournaments so far.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)