EU Romania’s PM Viorica Dancila will be on a visit to Strasbourg on Monday and Tuesday. She will present to the European Parliament the priorities of the first Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union and have meetings with EU officials. On Friday, during talks with the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and with members of the College of EU Commissioners in Bucharest, Viorica Dancila emphasised that the Romanian presidency will seek to achieve consensus among Member States over the multi-annual financial framework, and is looking for “small, but reliable steps” in this respect. According to the Romanian PM, the talks held on Friday between members of the Romanian Government and of the College of Commissioners were structured into 3 thematic sections and focused on EU priorities like the single market, the consolidation of the Economic and Monetary Union, migration, security and justice.
CHURCH Pope Francis, who will make a visit to mostly-Orthodox Romania between May 31st and June 2nd, will have a meeting with Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church, a Romanian Patriarchy spokesman announced. He emphasised that the good relations between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church translate, among others, in the hospitality with which Romanian communities have been received in many countries, especially in Italy, where many Romanian parishes hold religious services in locations made available by the local Catholic communities. On Friday the Vatican and the Romanian Presidency confirmed the Pope’s visit to Romania. He will visit the capital city Bucharest, the cities of Iaşi (in the north-east) and Blaj (centre), as well as the Marian shrine in Şumuleu Ciuc (centre). Pope Francis is the second Pope to visit Romania, after John Paul II who was in 1999 the first head of the Catholic Church to visit a mostly Orthodox country since the East-West Schism of 1054.
MEASLES 36 new measles cases have been confirmed in 8 counties in Romania over the past week, according to data from the National Centre for Infectious Disease Monitoring and Control, posted on the website of the National Institute for Public Health. Most cases have been reported in counties Teleorman (south), Sălaj (north), Maramureş (north), Neamţ (east) and Prahova (south). The total number of measles cases confirmed in Romania so far is 15,600, with 59 deaths also reported. The most frequently affected are non-vaccinated children.
DEFENCE The Romanian Defence Ministry has suspended the procurement procedure for 4 multirole corvettes worth 1.6 billion euro. The head of the Armaments Department, Andrei Ignat, has notified the Military Prosecutor’s Office with respect to the corvette procurement operation, based on reasonable suspicions regarding the lawfulness of the procedure, likely to affect national security interests. The bid, which should have been completed last year, has been postponed several times. Competing for the contract are 3 major international companies: Damen, from the Netherlands, Fincantieri of Italy and Naval Group from France.
PASSPORTS The new Romanian electronic passports, to be issued as of this week, will be virtually impossible to forge, said the head of the Directorate General for Passports Mirel Toancă on Saturday. He said each page of the new documents includes a stylised image of a well-known Romanian historic or tourist site, such as the Danube Delta, the Scărişoara Cave or Sighişoara medieval citadel. The fees for the issue of the new passports remain unchanged, and the ones valid at present will remain in use. Simple electronic passports are valid for 10 years, and temporary ones are valid 1 year.
WEATHER Europe continues to be ravaged by massive snowfalls and freezing temperatures. In the south-east of Germany, 4 regions initiated emergency plans after several days of continuing snowfalls. Several flights have been cancelled in Munich and Frankfurt, and traffic was disrupted on several roads. Schools have been closed. Major problems are also reported in Austria, where Innsbruck authorities advised people to stay indoors to avoid prospective avalanches. In Hungary, authorities have issued a code yellow alert for snow storms in the north-east of the country and a code red warning for freezing temperatures. Around 20 people have died in Europe in the past week because of the extreme weather conditions.
MACEDONIA Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras congratulated his Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev, after a historic vote in Skopje to rename the country “The Republic of North Macedonia”. Zoran Zaev won by a narrow margin the 2-thirds of the parliamentary votes needed for this goal, with the nationalists in Opposition boycotting the meeting. This is the last but one major obstacle to the settlement of a decade-long dispute with Greece over the name “Macedonia,” which Athens claims for the north of Greece. According to the BBC, the next step is the ratification of the agreement by the Greek Parliament, paving the way for Macedonia’s prospective accession to the EU and NATO.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)