EUROPEAN COMMISSION - On Thursday, the former Romanian Social-Democrat MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu, proposed by the Romanian Government for the office of interim European Commissioner for Regional Policy, was interviewed by the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker. The candidate proposed by Estonia was also heard on Thursday. According to regulations, the EC president must verify the candidates' skills and abilities before deciding on assigning them a certain portfolio. The two candidates will also be heard by the chairs of the European Parliament Committees and the MEPs are to vote in Strasbourg, next Thursday. Pascu would replace Corina Cretu, who on May 26th was elected MEP for the Pro Romania Party, formed by dissidents, former members of the Social Democratic Party. Pascu is a veteran of leftist politics in Romania. In 2004, when Romania became a NATO member, he was Minister of Defense. Since 2007, when Romania joined the EU, Pascu has been a member of the European Parliament.
DECISION - The Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who in March announced that Romania would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, claims that president Klaus Iohannis should take responsibility for a decision on this matter. It's the responsibility of the president of the country, who should give a clear answer about moving the embassy, Dancila has stated. She has also said that Romania has very good ties with both Israel and the countries in the Gulf area, and has announced she is to pay another visit to Qatar. In spring, during a visit to the United States, at the invitation of a pro-Israeli lobbying organization, the Prime Minister announced the moving of the embassy. Following that announcement, King Abdulah II of Jordan canceled his planned visit to Romania. The idea of moving the embassy was first launched on a TV station by the Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, who is now in prison for corruption.
POPULATION - On January 1st, 2018, Romania's resident population stood at 19.5 million inhabitants, and the natural growth remained negative, according to data made public by the National Statistics Institute on Thursday. The female population accounted for 51.1% of the total. As compared to January 2017, the population had aged, with the adult population (aged 15 to 64) accounting for 66.2% of the total population. Romania ranks 7th among the members of the EU, which has a total of 513.5 million inhabitants. The figures were published on World Population Day, an event observed on July 11the every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues.
MOLDOVA - The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova, Eduard Harunjen, resigned on Thursday. He claimed health problems, but also said that some politicians had been trying for some time to get control over the Prosecutor's Office. Previously, the Interior Minister Andrei Nastase had called for the prosecution of Harunjen, for participation in usurpation, exceeding his professional responsibilities, judiciary interference and passive corruption. Appointed in 2016, the Prosecutor General allegedly handled political files as ordered by the former Democratic government, controlled by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc. The new Moldovan Prime Minister, the pro-European Maia Sandu, has announced she would like to have a European prosecutor heading the Prosecutor General's Office, saying she asked the former head of the National Anticorruption Directorate in Romania, Laura Codruta Kovesi. The pro-Russia president of the country, Igor Dodon, does not favour the idea of bringing a European prosecutor to Chisinau. Ms Kovesi is competing against the French Jean-Francois Bohnert for head of the future European Public Prosecutor's Office, which might become operational next year.
JAZZ - 60 artists from around the world are participating in the Garana Jazz Festival, in south-western Romania, which started on Thursday and lasts until Sunday. The famous Norwegian sax player Jan Garbarek is back after 12 years, together with another three outstanding musicians: the Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, the German composer Rainer Bruninghaus and the Brazilian guitar player Yuri Daniel. On Friday, the Catholic Church will host the traditional annual concert given at the festival by the organ player Raul Kusak. The Garana Jazz Festival, organized by the cultural foundation 'Jazz Banat', a member of the European Jazz Network, has been held for 20 years, bringing outstanding musicians and a large audience to the little village in the Banat Mountains.
TENNIS - The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, number 7 in the WTA rankings, on Thursday qualified for the first time for the final of the Wimbledon tournament, the third Grand Slam of the year, after defeating in the semi-finals the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, 6-1, 6-3. In the other semifinal, the American Serena Williams (10 WTA) has defeated the Czech Barbora Strycova. The final between Halep and Williams, both former world no.1, will be held on Saturday. To Halep, aged 27, this is the 5th Grand Slam final. She is the second Romanian representative to play the Wimbledon final, after Ilie Nastase, who lost the finals in 1972 and 1976.
(translated by Mihaela Ignatescu)