PARLIAMENT The 2 chambers of Romania’s Parliament will convene on January 28 for a special session focusing on a bill scrapping the so-called special pensions paid to magistrates, which are not based on the principle of previous contributions. The Judicial Inspection Division says the bill tramples on the principles of judge independence and immovability, and comes against provisions in the Constitution and regulations by the European Court for Human Rights. On January 29, Parliament also convenes in a joint session to discuss the bill reintroducing the 2-round voting system in local elections, for which the Government takes responsibility before Parliament. The Orban Cabinet says the bill is intended to strengthen democratic standards at local community level. President Klaus Iohannis had previously requested a special Parliamentary session to this end. The Social Democrats, in opposition, reiterated that jointly with the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, they will table a no-confidence motion against the Liberal Government.
HOLOCAUST The Romanian PM Ludovic Orban takes part on Monday in an official ceremony celebrating 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, organised by the Polish authorities on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to a news release issued on Saturday by the Romanian Government, officials from several countries, Holocaust survivors and members of Jewish associations will be attending the ceremony, held under the patronage of the president of Poland Andrzej Duda. The Government of Romania, the release also reads, reconfirms its pledge to carry on Holocaust education and research efforts, to commemorate the Holocaust victims and to take responsibility for the country’s history.
IMMIGRANTS Romanian border police caught 9 citizens of Egypt, Iraq and Somalia attempting to cross the border into Hungary illegally, with the help of 2 Romanian citizens, the Romanian Border Police announced on Saturday. The investigations revealed that the 7 men and 2 women, aged between 21 and 52, had applied for asylum in Romania. They are currently probed into for attempted illegal border crossing, while the Romanian citizens are facing human trafficking charges.
CORONAVIRUS China has today announced extending the lockdown introduced in order to contain the newly discovered coronavirus, initially identified in Wuhan. Five cities in Hubei, a province in central China, have been added to the 13 where all bus, underground and ferry services have been suspended, and all outbound planes and trains cancelled. The Chinese army has sent medical teams to the outbreak region, after the death toll has reached 41, out of a total of over 1,300 cases. The virus has reached Europe as well, with 2 cases confirmed in France. The World Health Organisation has decided not to class the virus as an international emergency.
EARTHQUAKE At least 21 people died, more than 1,000 were injured and several buildings collapsed in a major earthquake that hit eastern Turkey on Friday night, Turkish authorities have announced. The 6.8 magnitude quake was followed by scores of aftershocks. The earthquake, centred 550 km east of the capital city Ankara, in Elazig province, was also felt in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Turkey is frequently affected by major tremors. In 1999, 17,000 people died and half a million lost their homes in a 7.6 earthquake in the north-west of the country, while another one hit the eastern province of Van in 2011, killing more than 500.
FILM “Home,” Romanian director Radu Ciorniciuc’s first film, premieres on Sunday in the international documentary competition of the most important American independent film festival, Sundance. “Home” is the first Romanian documentary selected into this festival’s competition, next to 11 other documentaries from around the world, in the World Cinema Documentary category. The film documents the life of a family who lived for 20 years in the Văcărești Delta, up until the place was declared a protected area and was renamed Văcărești Nature Park, the first urban nature park in Romania. Another Romanian film, "Colectiv", by Alexander Nanau, will be screened in the festival’s "Spotlight" section. This is a documentary on the events taking place in the first year after the fire in the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, in which 64 young people died.
TENNIS The Romanian player Simona Halep, number 3 in the world, has moved up into the 4th round of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, after defeating the Kazakh Iulia Putintseva (38 WTA) 6-1, 6-4, on Saturday in Melbourne. On Sunday Halep is to take on Belgian Elise Mertens (17 WTA), who beat CiCi (Catherine) Bellis (600 WTA) 6-1, 6-7, 6-0 in the 3rd round. Last year in Melbourne Halep lost in the 4th round, and in 2018 she reached the Australian Open final. Also on Saturday Monica Niculescu (Romania) / Misaki Doi (Japan) moved up into the next round of the doubles tournament, having defeated the Japanese Nao Hibino/Makoto Ninomiya 6-2, 7-5. Niculescu and Doi are to play next against Hao-ching Chan and Latisha Chan (Taiwan).
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)