FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – In 2016 Romania earmarked 240 million Euro for foreign development assistance and the neighbouring Republic of Moldova was the main beneficiary of these funds, having received 86% of them. “The National Report on the official development assistance granted by Romania in 2016”, made public by the Foreign Ministry, mentions the fact that a total of 80 states have benefited Romania’s assistance. Among them are Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and countries from Africa and Central Asia. The total amount granted by Romania accounts for 0.14% of the country's GDP.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS – Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melscanu has said that no accord regarding Romania’s gas exports to the neighbouring Hungary or other new bilateral projects in the energy sector was signed on the occasion of Monday’s visit to Bucharest of his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto. Minister Melescanu has announced in a release that tackled at the meeting was the stage of the undergoing projects, without any new aspects such as ensuring the interconnection of the gas infrastructure. The Romanian Minister’s announcement comes after the Hungarian news agency MTI has reported that Romania allegedly committed itself to ensuring until 2020 the technical conditions for the natural gas export to Hungary and that it could deliver up to 4.4 billion cubic meters of gas every year, to Hungary. This is the first opportunity that Hungary has had in decades to purchase large quantities of natural gas from a source other than Russia, the Hungarian news agency quoted Peter Szijjarto as saying.
RULINGS - The High Court of Cassation and Justice is today debating the request of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) to confirm the reopening of a criminal prosecution case that involves, among others, the Social-Democrat Deputy PM Paul Stanescu. Last month Stanescu said he would resign his post if he were indicted in this case of misappropriation of public funds. Also today, the same Court sentenced Darius Valcov, the former Social Democrat mayor of Slatina and former finance minister, to eight years in prison for influence peddling and money laundering. Also, he will have to pay 1.3 million euros worth of damages. The ruling is of first instance.
STRASBOURG - EU Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourova reiterated the European Commission’s request that the Romanian Parliament should call a debate on the modifications to the justice laws, in line with the EU’s recommendations, so as to reach consensus in this matter. The domestic turmoil stirred by the modifications brought to the justice laws in Romania has reached the floor of the European Parliament, which on Wednesday hosted a debate on this issue. Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said the debate had a political stake. Find out more about it, after the news.
WINTER OLYMPICS - As many as 28 Romanian athletes are attending the 23rd edition of the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Soth Korea, that officially open on Friday. These will be the largest Winter Olympics in history, with a record-high number of participants and more than 100 medal events. A total of 2,925 athletes from 92 countries have confirmed their participation in PyeongChang, which beats the record numbers seen at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, when 2,858 athletes from 88 countries participated. South and North Korean athletes will also march together under one flag at the opening ceremony on the 9th of February. (Translated by Elena Enache)