A roundup of the week's main stories.
On Monday, Poland officially commemorated 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp. The Romanian PM Ludovic Orban, who took part in the ceremony, held on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, said that Romania, in itself, and also as a member of the EU, was promoting tolerance among people, non-discrimination and peace, and remained active in the process of preserving and completing the memory of the Holocaust. Last week the Romanian president Klaus Iohannis participated in Israel in the international forum devoted to the commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust and on Monday he decorated in Bucharest Holocaust survivors and institutions that had a determining role in preserving the memory of the Holocaust.
Law on eliminating special pensions
Romania’s Parliament met in an extraordinary session from Monday to Wednesday. High on the agenda were issues such as the elimination of special pensions and the government assuming responsibility for the election of mayors in two rounds of voting. The Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday gave the green light to the elimination of special pensions for MPs, judges and prosecutors, the specialized auxiliary staff of courts and prosecutor’s offices. Special pensions were also eliminated for public servants with a special status, members of the diplomatic corps and consulates and of the Constitutional Court as well as the airline staff. All these categories benefited from pensions that did not observe the principle of contribution and that were 15 times bigger than an average normal pension. The judges of the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the Superior Council of Magistracy decided to challenge the decision at the Constitutional Court. Magistrates claim that the law on eliminating special pensions is entirely unconstitutional and is ‘brutally’ infringing upon the principles of independence and immovability of judges. The Constitutional Court is to discuss on March 18 the notifications of the High Court and the Ombudsman related to the aforementioned law.
The Social Democratic Party files the first motion of no confidence against the Liberal government in Bucharest
The Social Democratic Party – PSD, in opposition, on Thursday filed the first motion of no confidence against the Liberal government in Bucharest. The move was made after the government headed by Ludovic Orban assumed responsibility for the bill on electing mayors in two rounds of voting, almost 6 months ahead of the elections. The text of the motion entitled ‘The Orban/Liberal government – the privatization of the Romanian democracy’ shows that the current government should be dismissed because the changing of the election system ahead of the vote violates European standards and because the passing of the changes was made without consultations and debates. The Liberals claim, however, that a return to the system of electing mayors in two rounds of voting gives mayors more legitimacy and representation. The PSD also said that they managed to gather the votes necessary for the motion to pass. In reply, the PM Ludovic Orban says he is ready for any result of the vote, his aims being to ensure a stable governing and to win the future local and parliamentary elections.
Romania’s stand towards the American peace plan in the Middle East
Any initiative aimed at finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the benefit of both sides should be appreciated, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Wednesday in Bucharest. He talked about the peace plan for the Middle East made public on Tuesday by US president Donald Trump. According to the Romanian official, no viable and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found without the contribution of the US.
Bogdan Aurescu: “This plan proposed by the US is an opportunity to start making efforts again, efforts which are highly necessary, in order to find a negotiated and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Romania will continue to plead for a viable solution to this conflict, which is vital for a fair, comprehensive and durable accord, based on a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine respectively, which should coexist in peace and security.”
Bogdan Aurescu has also said that that Bucharest will actively participate in the consultation process initiated at EU level, with a view to finding a common stand based on international law and within the legal framework of the United Nations.
Romania and Britain after Brexit
Britain leaving the European Union is a first in history for a EU member state. At a meeting with representatives of the British business community in Bucharest, Romanian PM Ludovic Orban emphasized his country’s commitment to developing bilateral ties after Brexit. Orban also said that Romania supports a strong relationship between the EU and the UK and that the Strategic Partnership between the two countries will be an important pillar of prosperity and common security in the Euro-Atlantic area. In his turn, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said in an interview that the UK continues to be an important strategic partner for Romania. He also said that Bucharest is concerned about the situation of Romanian citizens in the UK after the transition period, for which reason it wants the EU to take over negotiations with London in terms of EU citizens’ rights in the country. Romanians who live in Britain can apply for a resident status by June 2021, allowing them to stay in the country after Brexit. The procedure is only available to foreign citizens that have been living in the UK for at least 5 years.
(Translated by Lacramioara Simion/Elena Enache)