MIDDLE EAST - Romania's and Romanian citizens' interests have not been affected by the situation in Iraq and the Middle East so far, the Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu has stated today. He has also said that there is a good coordination between Romania and its EU and NATO allies, and has stressed that the ministry is monitoring the situation of the Romanians in the region. The Romanian defense and foreign ministers, Nicolae Ciuca and Bogdan Aurescu respectively, are being heard today about the Middle East situation, in a joint meeting of the parliament defense, public order and national safety and foreign policy committees. Last week, Nicolae Ciuca stated that the Middle East situation was being monitored and assessed by the specialized structures, in order to be prepared for the implementation of the necessary measures if need be.
CULTURE DAY - Events marking Romania's National Culture Day and the birth of the great Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu are being held in Romania, the Republic of Moldova and in the Diaspora. For the first time, people from different parts of the country can attend cultural events held at the same time. January 15th, Mihai Eminescu's birthday, became the National Culture Day under a law adopted by the Chamber of Deputies in 2010.
NATO - On Thursday, the Romanian Naval Forces officially take over the command of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group, which brings together military ships from Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Valentin Catalin Vlad will be the commander of the group over January - June, and the command ship is 'Vice-Admiral Constantin Balescu'. Besides the 64 permanent crew, 14 Romanian and three foreign staff will be on board the ship. The Chief of Staff will be a Spanish officer. The group will operate in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean, in order to ensure the rapid reaction capacity at NATO level.
RESOLUTION - A resolution containing the European Parliament's stand on the funding of the European Climate Pact is to be voted today. The EU is determined to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The text is likely to confirm the objective and to emphasize again Parliament's call for a revision of the EU's goals to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. Parliament has already stated that, by 2030, the UE must reduce such emissions by 55%, in order to reach neutrality by 2050, and an agreement is urgently needed for the period 2021-2027, in order to support the implementation of policies in the field.
IRAN - The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has today called for a major change in the way his country is being governed, implicitly admitting that the last week's tragedy, when a Ukrainian plane was struck by Iranian missiles, triggered a crisis with regard to the trust in authorities. Rouhani has also spoken of the need for national reconciliation, following the indignation caused by the responsible ones failing to take blame for the tragedy. In his opinion, the first step should be the legislative elections scheduled for February 21st. We recall that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 crashed soon after take off from the Teheran airport, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens. After two days of official denial, the Iranian army admitted guilt, saying the plane was accidentally downed by a missile.
TENNIS - Four Romanian tennis players, Irina Bara, Laura Paar, Patricia Tig and Elena-Gabriela Ruse are playing in Melbourne in the first round of the main draw qualifiers for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, to be held between January 20th - February 2nd. Another three Romanian players, Simona Halep, Sorana Cirstea and Irina Begu will play straight into the main draw. On Tuesday, Simona Halep, no.4 in the WTA rankings, qualified for the quarter finals of the WTA tournament in Adelaide Australia, with some 848,000 dollars in prize money. Help, who defeated the Australian Ajla Tomljanovici, will next play against Arina Sabalenka of Belarus.