A roundup of local and international news.
LAWS - The Bucharest Government amended on Thursday, in its third meeting this year, the Road Traffic Law and introduced much tougher sanctions for aggressive drivers and for drivers who endanger traffic safety, such as the suspension of the driving license for 4 months for speeding. Also on Thursday, the Government approved the financing contract signed by Romania with the European Investment Bank, worth 305 million euros, for funding the Cluj Regional Hospital (north-west). Another law on the government’s agenda established a new state aid to reduce the excise duty on diesel fuel used in agriculture.
COVID-19 – The Health Minister, Alexandru Rafila estimates a sharp increase in the number of Covid cases as of next week, going as high as 40,000 per day. He also said numbers could start to drop around February 10. According to Rafila, the healthcare system is under high pressure in some regions, with the county of Cluj having the highest hospital bed occupancy rate of 68%. When the rate exceeds 75%, school will go online. Thursday was the second day in a row with over new 30,000 cases. 71 deaths were also reported.
VISIT– The Romanian Defense Minister, Vasile Dîncu, said on Thursday, fresh from a meeting in Bucharest with his French counterpart, Mrs. Florence Parly, that Romania is in a special partnership with France. He said that Romania can count on France’s firm support which was confirmed by the recent statement of President Emmanuel Macron, who announced that his country was ready to contribute NATO troops to Romania. Romania is concerned about recent developments in the region and hopes that dialogue and understanding between the sides in conflict will prevail - said Minister Vasile Dîncu. The French Defense Minister, Mrs. Florence Parly, says Romania is entitled to strengthen its security in the context of tensions in Ukraine. The French official gave assurances that France is willing to further contribute to the security of its European partners, as part of NATO missions, especially in Romania. The French official had meetings with President Klaus Iohannis and the Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca.
MINISTER - The National Liberal Party (PNL), part of the ruling coalition, will propose Marcel Bolos for the position of Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitalisation. He was nominated on Thursday by the party’s Political Bureau. Bolos was a minister of European funds, is an economist and also a priest, after graduating, after the age of 40, from the Orthodox Theology Faculty. The minister seat remained vacant after the resignation of Liberal Florin Roman.
UKRAINE – Russia says that the proposals of military transparency and arms control made by the US and NATO are insufficient for its security concerns. The first reaction to the answer sent Wednesday to Moscow came from the Russian Foreign Minister, Serghei Lavrov. While the document - delivered by the US in coordination with NATO does not address Russia's "main concern" about the alliance's expansion, Mr Lavrov said it "gives hope for the start of a serious conversation" on secondary questions. This is Russia’s clear stand, that the further NATO enlargement towards the East and the deployment of offensive weapons that threaten the Russian territory are inadmissible. On Wednesday the United States and NATO presented written answers to Russia's request that NATO should withdraw its troops from Romania and Bulgaria and not accept Ukraine and Georgia among its allies. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that NATO is not abandoning its open door policy and proposed Moscow a diplomatic way to avoid war. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also believes that a political solution to the crisis is still possible if Russia makes efforts to deescalate tensions.
HOLOCAUST - On Thursday, January 27, on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day or the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the Romanian Foreign Ministry officials paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, a tragic chapter in history and expressed solidarity with the survivors of the World War II atrocities. The Romanian Foreign Ministry officials have shown that Romania is one of the countries that has assumed its own past and is committed to keeping its memory alive for future generations, to protect the remaining survivors and to fight anti-Semitism and any manifestations of intolerance and discrimination. (EE)