MICHAEL I The last sovereign of Romania, King Michael I, is being commemorated through special religious services around the country and also in Switzerland, where he died on December 5th. His body will be brought to Romania on December 13th. Since his death, many people have signed books of condolences at the royal Peles Castle in the mountain resort of Sinaia and also in Bucharest. The Romanian government has declared the 14th , 15th and 16th of December days of national mourning. The former sovereign will be buried on December 16th in Curtea de Arges, southern Romania.
CONSTITUTION Promoting the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and ensuring the integrity of public jobs and positions are constitutional, non-negotiable values, which cannot be restricted or eliminated, said President Klaus Iohannis on Friday, in a message conveyed on Romanian Constitution Day, established through a referendum 26 years ago. As the head of state, whose duties include defending and upholding the Constitution, Iohannis urged all state institutions to observe not only the letter, but also the spirit of the fundamental law. Romanians are now more united than ever around fundamental principles and they are campaigning actively to defend these principles, the president also stated. His address came against the background of street protests sparked off by some controversial amendments proposed by the leftist ruling coalition, which are currently under debate in Parliament.
ISRAEL Romania maintains its stand with regard to the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine, existing together as good, prosperous neighbours, said in Bucharest on Friday the Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. He said that the solution must be reached through direct dialogue between the two parties and without unilateral measures, which would impact negotiations in a negative way. According to Melescanu, the announcement made by the US President Donald Trump regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel is a clear signal that the US wants to get involved in finding a solution. Donald Trump's statement triggered international reactions. An ally to the US, Saudi Arabia has termed the decision as irresponsible. Other traditional allies have criticised Trump's stand too, while Russia and China have voice worries over a potential escalation of tensions in the region. All Palestinian factions have condemned this decision, calling for strikes and protests. Large scale rallies have been staged in Gaza Strip and many countries in the region have warned that changing the status of Jerusalem will generate religious tension.
BREXIT The European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker announced in Brussels on Friday that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of Brexit negotiations to allow movement to the next phase. At a joint conference with the Prime Minister Theresa May, Junker said that both sides had shown adaptability and readiness for compromise. In turn, Theresa May stated that London and Brussels had reached an agreement on the rights of the EU and British citizens and on the Irish border. On December 15th, the European Council must decide whether sufficient progress has been made so that negotiations with London can advance. According to the European Commission, progress has been made in the three priority fields: citizens' rights, dialogue on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the financial agreement. Following the European Commission's announcement, the Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu has stated that the situation of the Romanian citizens in Great Britain is priority zero.
NATO A NATO liaison office was inaugurated on Friday in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, after a series of delays. The opening ceremony was attended, among others, by the Deputy Secretary General of the Alliance Rose Gottemoeller and the Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip. The NATO Deputy Secretary General said that the inauguration of the office was a clear signal and confirmation of the fact that NATO paid particular attention to the relationship with the Republic of Moldova. In turn, Pavel Filip said that the opening of the office was an element of normality and openness towards the world. On the other hand, the President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon stated that existence of the mission in Moldova's capital would be a security threat and would affect the state's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. NATO's liaison office in Chisinau, which, according to experts, is just a diplomatic mission, will have only civilian staff, just like the missions in Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.
TRADE AGREEMENT The EU and Japan on Friday finalized negotiations for a trade agreement, which started in 2013. According to France Presse, the announcement was made right before the World Trade Organisation summit, sending a clear message to the international community, the US president Donald Trump in particular. In a joint satement, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe state that "the finalisation of the negotiations on the EU-Japan EPA demonstrates to the world the firm political will of Japan and the EU to keep the flag of free trade waving high and powerfully advance free trade". According the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, the agreement is of utmost importance. "The Commission will submit the agreement for the approval of the European Parliament and EU Member States, aiming for its entry into force before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019" reads the European Commission's press realease. The EU is Japan's third largest trading partner.
DRILL The French frigate Guepratte, which has arrived in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, is to join Romanian corvette Eugeniu Rosca and dreadnought Lupu Dinescu for an air-defence drill, which also involves the participation of warplanes from the Romanian and Canadian air forces stationed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base. The drill's main aim is to raise the training level of the participant crews as well as to develop relations between allied forces.
HANDBALL Romania's national women's handball team has qualified on the first position for the round of 16 of the World Championships in Germany. On Thursday night the Romanian handballers clinched a win against Angola, while France drew their match against Spain allowing the Romanians to end up on the first position in group A. Romania will be further playing the winner of the game pitching Hungary against the Czech Republic. The Romanian handballers have so far managed only good shows with four wins in their fixtures against Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain and Angola. At the previous edition in 2015, Romania ended up on the third position walking away with bronze. Romania is the only side that has so far participated in all the 22 editions of the world championship.