Decisions by the Liberal executive in Bucharest
The Liberal government in Bucharest announced it would take responsibility on the bill providing for mayoral elections in two rounds. PM Ludovic Orban explained the bill is meant to improve democratic mechanisms. At the same time, it would increase the legitimacy of local elected officials in implementing development programs. President Klaus Iohannis said he supported the government in this respect. However, the measure was immediately attacked by the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, and interim chairman Marcel Ciolacu announced soon after that he would seek support from the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania in calling for a censure motion. Ciolacu did add that this would not lead to early elections. The Save Romania Union saluted the government initiative, recalling that electing mayors in two rounds was a major point in their agreement with the ruling party. At the same time, the ALDE, another major parliamentary party, continues to support the two-round election, but believes that, by taking responsibility for this bill, the government wants to force early elections. Both the Liberals and President Iohannis had previously said that they wanted early elections as soon as possible. The USR-PLUS Alliance is also is in favor, believing that any delay keeps Romania in check, with a parliament that continues to be controlled by the Social Democrats, which lost their grip on power in October, after a censure motion. The Social Democrats called for activating the procedure of investigating Romania on issues of democratic rule because the government took responsibility for the local election bill. They claim that forcing the bill through four months before voters go to the polls is against democratic principles. The committee in charge of monitoring member states with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved the request.
Romanian foreign policy coordinates
On Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis held his annual meeting with the heads of diplomatic missions to Bucharest. There he outlined the three pillars of Romania's foreign policy: belonging to NATO, belonging to the EU, and the strategic partnership with the United States. The other priority, he said, remains gaining entry to the Schengen Area, which he said would significantly contribute to consolidating security all around, as well as joining the Eurozone, when all conditions are met. President Iohannis also addressed the Middle East situation, and said that the negative effects of this crisis have an impact on European and global security. As for the relationship with the neighboring Republic of Moldova, the head of state said that Bucharest would resume full cooperation with Chisinau when the government there commits to its evolution towards Europe, reforming justice, and fighting corruption.
The Caracal case goes to court
Six months after the Caracal case was opened, named after the town where the alleged crimes took place, defendant Gheorghe Dinca, now in custody, was sent to court this week on eight counts, including human trafficking, trafficking of minors, rape, premeditated murder, and defiling of corpses. Prosecutors accuse the sexagenarian former auto mechanic of abducting, raping, killing, and consequently burning the bodies of two teenagers, Luiza Melencu, 18, and Alexandra Maceseanu, 15. According to evidence on file, on the day in April she was abducted, Luiza was raped not only by defendant Dinca, but also by a neighbor of his, who is also in custody. She is supposed to have been killed three days later for resisting the abuse. Dinca is supposed to have burned the body in a metal drum, disposing of the ashes and bone fragments in a forest outside town. Alexandra is alleged to have had a similar fate three months later. After being abducted and held against her will, she managed to call emergency services three times, but the authorities were too late in identifying her location. The police descended on the scene 19 hours after the latest call, partially due to decisions by the case prosecutor at the time, who invoked legal hurdles. The case has sparked intense anger in Romanian society, leading to many resignations.
Romanian Culture Day
Romanian Culture Day and the 170th anniversary of the birth of national poet Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) were celebrated this week for the tenth year in a row in all major cities in Romania, as well as among Romanian communities abroad. Romanians everywhere took part in events dedicated to the great poet, a pillar of Romanian culture, who brought important contributions to world culture. All institutions of culture in Romania, as well as Romanian cultural institutes abroad, marked the event with numerous manifestations of culture, including concerts, exhibitions, theater plays, literary events, poetry recitals, film screenings, and conferences.