A roundup of domestic and international news.
There is proof that the Malaysian airliner that crashed in eastern Ukraine was hit by a missile launched from an area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, US President Barack Obama said on Friday. Obama called it a global tragedy and asked for an independent and transparent international investigation. The American President blamed Russia once more for supporting the separatists, by supplying them with military equipment. Obama underscored that Russia, Ukraine and the separatists must immediately call a truce. Earlier on Friday the U.N. Security Council called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation of the downed Malaysian Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine. Council members stood in a moment of silent tribute to the victims at the start of an emergency Council meeting Friday morning. 298 people lost their lives in the crash, one Romanian with dual citizenship included. The Council called for an investigation “in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability.” The United Nations, the European Union and the United States called on the parties involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine to stop the violence in order to allow an investigation into the cause of the crash. The OSCE has announced that 30 of its members arrived at the site of the tragedy, after pro-Russian separatists, controlling the region, allowed their access. U.S. intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, but could not say who fired it. Kiev has accused the pro-Russian insurgents of being behind the attack with alleged support from Moscow, while the rebels say that Ukraine is to blame for the tragedy.
After 10 days of air strikes, Israel last night launched a ground offensive in Gaza. At least 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli tanks, the local health-care services have announced. According to Israeli leaders, the goal of the ground operation is to destroy the tunnels used to send militants from the Palestinian territory into Israel and was started in response to Hamas’s refusal to accept the peace plan proposed by Egypt. On its part, Hamas has threatened the Jewish state with serious consequences. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has voiced his worry that the Israeli offensive will lead to more blood-shed and will complicate the cease fire efforts in Gaza. Over two thousand Palestinians have been wounded since the start of the Israeli operation on July 8th.
A large military ceremony was held in the south-western town of Craiova on Friday, marking the completion of the Romanian mission in Afghanistan. Romanian soldiers’ participation in the theatres of operations in Afghanistan started in June 2002, when the Red Scorpions battalion of Craiova was deployed in Zabul, in southern Afghanistan. In 12 years of participation, the Romanian army contributed 25 thousand soldiers to the NATO missions in that country, of which 26 have been killed. The withdrawal of the Romanian troops started in June 2014, and starting October this year, only 200 Romanian soldiers will remain there, to train the Afghan army.
Romania supports Montenegro’s bid for the EU and NATO, Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said on Friday, in Podgorita, at a meeting with his counterpart Igor Luksic. Also on Friday, Minister Corlatean, who paid an official visit to Montenegro, discussed with Economy Minister Vladimir Kavaric about economic issues, such as investment and trade. High on the meeting’s agenda was cooperation in the field of energy, such as electricity exports from Romania to Montenegro and Romanian participation in energy infrastructure projects in Montenegro. Minister Corlatean’s one-day official visit was also devoted to the commemoration of the 18 victims of a tragic road accident that had taken place last summer in Montenegro.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has made an important contribution to Romania’s economic development, Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Friday at a meeting with members of the EBRD Board. Basescu also said that the main sectors that need the EBRD’s expertise are drawing foreign investment, food industry, infrastructure, EU fund absorption and energy. Basescu talked about the country’s current economic situation, the importance of predictability and stability for the business environment and about the threats to economy in the next few years.
The Oltchim chemical works in Ramnicu Valcea, southern Romania, will recover by the end of this year, the Romanian Minister of the Economy, Constantin Nita has stated. He has also said that a new production line will be rendered operational next month, which translates into a 40% increase in the production capacity. Currently in a state of insolvency because of huge debts, Oltchim is on the list of the big state-owned companies that must be privatized. One attempt to privatize Oltchim failed in September 2012, as the winner of the bid did not pay the necessary amount, namely 45 million Euros. Since then, the Romanian state has been making efforts to keep the works functional.