ECONOMY- The Romanian Government on Wednesday endorsed a draft law introducing a 5% reduction in employer social security contributions, as of October 1st. The aforementioned draft will be submitted to Parliament for debate and adoption in an emergency procedure. The draft is aimed at easing taxation on labour. Although the decision has not been green-lighted by Romania’s international lenders, Prime Minister Victor Ponta has given assurances there is enough money for this measure to be introduced. He has also said that the implementation cost will stand at around 191 million euros in the last quarter of this year and that the Romanian state will reach all macro-economic goals established jointly with the IMF, among which maintaining the same budget deficit. The Cartel ALFA National Trade Union Confederation however, argues that the government’s measure will in fact increase the multinational companies’ net profit and will decrease contributions to the pension fund. Therefore, Cartel ALFA asks for the 5% cut to be applied to employees and not to employers. The decision has been termed by the opposition as a populist one, given that 2014 is an election year in Romania.
UKRAINE CRISIS- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday made public his decision to order a unilateral ceasefire in the east of the country to allow pro-Russian insurgents to lay down weapons. Poroshenko made the announcement following a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, after two Russian journalists got killed in eastern Ukraine, a region ravaged by separatism. Russia has warned that none of the murders against Russian citizens will go unpunished. The UN Security Council condemned, in a declaration, the killing of two journalists and called for opening an investigation into violence against reporters, FP reports. The declaration also makes reference to the killing in May, of an Italian photojournalist, actually the first journalist to be killed since the start of the pro-Russian separatist uprising in Ukraine. In another move, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Wednesday asked again for the “immediate and unconditional” release of its observers who have been detained for several weeks now in eastern Ukraine. The OSCE accuses Russia of further sending paramilitary troops and guns to Ukraine.
IRAQ-The Iraqi Government on Wednesday made an official request to the US to launch air strikes against the Jihad fighters who unleashed a flash offensive in Iraq, foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari has announced. The request was made after Jihadi fighters on Wednesday laid siege to Iraq’s largest oil refinery, some 200 kilometres away from the capital city Baghdad, and set oil reserves on fire. Earlier, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Iraqi people to stay united against militants. Since June 9, the Government in Baghdad (with a Shia majority membership) has been faced with an offensive by the Sunni radical group “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”, which took control of some important regions in the north, east and west of the country, in a bid to create an Islamic state in the area. In another move, Iranian President Hossan Rohani, whose country is inhabited by a predominantly Shia population on Wednesday warned he would do anything it takes to protect Shia Islamic Holy Places in that country from the fundamentalist threat posed by the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.
VISIT- The minister delegate for the Romanians Around the World, Bogdan Stanoevici will pay a visit to the United States, between June 19th and 23rd. The Romanian official will have talks with Mrs.Loretta Sanchez, member of the House of Representatives (D-California) and co-chair of the Congressional Romania Caucus. Bogdan Stanoevici will also meet in New York with representatives of the Romanian community and the Romanian language press. The minister will also attend the 15th edition of a festival entitled “Romania’s Day on Broadway”.
ASSAULT-The Romanian Foreign Ministry has asked the French authorities to clarify as soon as possible the circumstances in which a young Romanian of Roma origin was assaulted by a group of people on the outskirts of Paris. The Ministry believes that such extremely violent acts against European citizens, Romanians included, are to a certain extent the result of a public display of a xenophobic and often racist attitude by some politicians from the community area. A young Romanian of Roma origin was abducted on Friday in an improvised camp on the northern outskirts of Paris by 12 people who beat him until he became unconscious and then abandoned him. French authorities have publicly condemned the violence and opened an attempted murder investigation.
MADRID-King Juan Carlos on Wednesday promulgated the organic law of abdication, which put an end to his 39-year long reign, news agencies report. On Thursday, June 19, Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias will be proclaimed King of Spain before the plenary sitting of Parliament.