A roundup of domestic and international news.
Union – The heritage passed on by the architects of the Union of 1859, both institutional and symbolic, is the solid ground on which we should further build Romania’s modernization, President Klaus Iohannis said on Sunday in a message occasioned by the anniversary of 162 years since the Union of the Romanian Principalities. One of the main directions of modernization is the consolidation of Romanian education system, which should offer accessible and competitive education, Iohannis went on to say. He criticized the politicization of institutions and pleaded for meritocracy. PM Florin Citu and Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu as well as other political leaders conveyed messages on this occasion. The anniversary of 162 years since the Union of the Romanian Principalities is marked through small-scale events in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. On January 24, 1859, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was proclaimed ruler of the United Principalities. During his 7-year rule, Cuza promoted several radical reforms, which established the institutional foundation of modern Romania, further consolidated by Kings Carol I and Ferdinand.
Coronavirus – The Romanian Education Minister Sorin Cimpeanu has said today that the interest in reopening schools on February 8th is still present, but that the epidemiological situation will be analyzed, after the new variant of the Covid-19 was detected at a school in Bucharest. A final decision in this respect will be taken on February 2, the minister also said. As regards the presence of the new variant of the Covid-19 at a school in Bucharest, Cimpeanu said the school has already been closed and the results of the tests are expected. On Saturday, the Health Ministry announced that 9 people tested positive to coronavirus, after being direct contacts of a patient working with a school in the capital city, who was confirmed with the new variant of the Covid-19.
Russia – The US has condemned the use, by the Russian authorities, of brutal measures against tens of thousands of people who protested in Russia for the release of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. In his turn, the head of the European diplomacy, Joseph Borell, denounced the massive arrests and the disproportionate use of force, during Saturday’s protests. We remind you that tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in Moscow and many other cities across Russia asking for Navalny’s release. Aleksei Navalny had been detained a week before, upon returning to Russia from Berlin, where he had been treated from poisoning with a nerve agent. The most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Kremlin is behind the poisoning. Amnesty International has accused Russian authorities for the arrest and beatings of the protesters. There are some of the largest protests against President Vladimir Putin in the last years.
Travel - All persons reaching the US by air will be required to present, upon boarding, a negative SARS-CoV-2 test or a document attesting that they have been infected but have recovered. The negative test should be made 72 hours (3 days), at the most, prior to reaching the USA - the Romanian Foreign Ministry announced. The measure, which will apply to all people over the age of 2, including to US citizens, permanent residents and citizens transiting the US, will take effect on January 26. In another move, people in risk areas, including Romania, who travel to the Netherlands by air or sea, should present, starting on Saturday, a rapid test for the new coronavirus, made no later than four hours before departure. France will also require, as of Sunday at midnight, a negative PCR Covid-19 test that needs to be taken with a maximum of 72 hours before the trip. Exempted from the rule are road transporters and cross-border workers.
Brussels - The European Ombudsman, quoted by Reuters, has announced the launch of an investigation into the way in which the European Commission is managing the contracts for the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccines concluded with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the EU member states. The EU has spent about 2.5 billion Euros for down payments to buy about 2.3 billion doses of vaccine from six companies that have Covid-19 vaccines approved or in the experimental phase. The prices, delivery deadlines and other important clauses in the contracts are kept secret, the European Commission claiming that confidentiality is essential to obtain the best possible contractual conditions. However, the Ombudsman's inquiry concerns the EC’s refusal to provide public access to those documents. EU states have complained about insufficient vaccine deliveries and uncertain timelines. (Translated by EE)