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EMERGENCY ORDINANCE – Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis today announced he has notified the Constitutional Court regarding the Government’s emergency ordinance modifying criminal legislation, which creates a legal conflict between the Government, Parliament and the judiciary, thus breaching the Constitution, the president has argued. Klaus Iohannis has also criticized the Interior Ministry for the way it handled last night’s protest, when an isolated group of people resorted to violence. The President claims the Ministry and the riot police had been duly informed regarding the risk of such incidents aimed at compromising the protest. In turn, Interior Minister Carmen Dan said she received no information regarding any intention to instigate violence in last night’s protest. We recall that unprecedented protests were staged in Bucharest and many other cities across the country against the Government’s decision to modify the criminal codes by emergency ordinance. Protesters called on the Government to withdraw the ordinance and step down. Romanians in the Diaspora also protested the Government’s decision. Florin Jianu, Minister for the Business Sector, has stepped down.
DEBATE ON THE PROTESTS – The recent street protests staged in the wake of the Government’s ordinance modifying the criminal legislation were the subject of a heated debate in the European Parliament today. Romanian MEPs, members of the European People’s Party called for withdrawing the ordinance, while the representatives of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats and the Social-Democratic Party, claimed the protesters were trying to overthrow a legitimate Government. The European Commission has called on the Romanian Government to re-evaluate the ordinance. In turn, the Embassies of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and the United States in Bucharest have expressed their deep concern regarding the Government’s actions, which they see as undermining Romania’s progress regarding the rule of law and the fight against corruption in the last ten years.
REACTION – The Pro Democratia Association, one of the oldest and most respected NGOs in Romania, has expressed concern with respect to the rapid and serious degradation of democracy in Romania, also in connection with the concerted attack of political forces on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and human rights. The systematic campaign against democracy saw its apex with the adoption of a controversial Government emergency ordinance modifying the criminal and criminal procedure codes, which seems to be preventing certain political leaders and their election and financial contributors from facing criminal justice. The Association calls on those responsible to stop all attacks on institutions, organizations and the principles of the rule of law and human rights and the immediate and unrestricted withdrawal of the emergency ordinance criticized by the general public.
BUDGET FOR 2017 – Romanian MPs can file amendments to the draft laws on the state and social security budgets for 2017, before the report of the Budget and Finance committees can elaborate a final report on the two bills this coming weekend. On Monday, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies will debate the two laws, and a final vote is scheduled for Tuesday. The draft budget for 2017 is based on an economic growth of 5.2%, and a budget deficit below 3% of the GDP. The Government estimates an inflation rate of 1.4% and an unemployment rate of 4.3%. According to Finance Minister, Viorel Stefan, investment, healthcare, education and infrastructure will be given special importance over the coming period.
TENNIS – The best-rated Romanian tennis player, Simona Halep, WTA no. 4, has qualified to the quarterfinals of the Sankt Petersburg tournament in Russia, totalling over 700,000 dollars in prize money. On Friday, Halep will play Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia, who in the second round ousted her better-seeded co-national, Daria Kasatkina. Halep is the tournament’s no. 1 seed. In the women’s doubles, Irina Begu and Monica Niculescu will take on Daria Gavrilova of Australia and Kristina Mladenovic of France. (Translated by V. Palcu)