Government – The ruling Liberal government in Romania is considering all the ways for adopting the law on electing mayors in two rounds of voting. The PM Ludovic Orban does not rule out assuming responsibility for the law or issuing an emergency decree, although he believes there are chances for the law to be passed by Parliament. He pointed out that the Liberal Party would designate its candidate for the Bucharest City Hall following a survey. As to the law providing for the doubling of allowances for children, the PM is in favor of postponing the deadline for adoption, until the government is able to ensure the necessary financial resources from the state budget, through budget adjustment, after July 1. The PM made these statements in the context in which President Klaus Iohannis announced that he would promulgate the respective law which was passed in December following an initiative of the former governing Social Democratic Party.
Iran - In Teheran thousands of Iranian protesters called on the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to resign after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed that they had downed a Ukrainian plane with 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Canadians. According to the Iranian authorities, the plane was downed by mistake. The American President Donald Trump warned Iran not to transform protests into a massacre and hailed the protesters’ courage in a Twitter post, in English and Farsi. The police intervened to disperse the protesters. The British ambassador to Iran was detained for several hours by the police, as he was filming the manifestation against Ali Khamenei at the Amitkadir University and the Iranian papers wrote that the ambassador allegedly instigated the students to protest. The Iranian president Hassan Rohani phoned his Ukrainian counterpart Volodimir Zelenski to apologize for the incident. The Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said that Iran had to take whole responsibility for what happened, adding that such a tragedy should not have happened in a period of increased tensions.
Talks - The Russian President Vladimir Putin and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Moscow for the 1st time in the past two years, talked about energy policies, with focus on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and also about several international issues such as the situation in Libya, Iran and Syria. According to Radio Romania’s correspondent to Moscow, at the end of the their talks, the two officials confirmed their determination to complete the building of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was suspended last month under the threat of American sanctions. The Kremlin leader reiterated that Russian would be able to finalize the works on its own, but admitted, for the first time, that the exploitation of the pipeline can be postponed for the end of 2020 or even for the first quarter of 2021. The project has been criticized by the US, Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, because it would increase Western Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and would give Moscow an instrument for political pressure.
Handball – Romania’s national men’s handball team has qualified to the 2nd stage of the preliminaries of the 2021 World Handball Championship, being ranked 1st in the group with 4 accumulated points. The Romanians on Saturday defeated Kosovo 32-21 and Georgia defeated Italy 28-25 in Benevento (Italy). Sunday is seeing the last two matches between Kosovo and Georgia and Italy and Romania. However the Romanian team cannot lose its position in the group irrespective of today’s results.
Tennis - The Romanian tennis player Sorana Cîrstea (74 WTA) defeated its conational Irina Begu (101 WTA) 6-2, 7-6 (9) in the last qualifying round to the main singles table at the WTA tournament in Hobart (Australia), which has prizes up for grabs worth 275,000 dollars. Cîrstea, top seeded in this stage, will be up against Kristyna Pliskova (The Czech Republic) in the first round. The two players previously met once in 2013, in the 2nd round of the Australian Open, when Sorana defeated Kristyna. Simona Halep, world’s no. 3 player, was designated 2nd seed of the WTA tournament of Adelaide (Australia) which will start on Monday, having total prizes of 848,000 dollars. (translation by L. Simion)