Tennis player Bianca Andreescu, a Canadian of Romanian origin, plays the final at Indian Wells
PARIS PROTESTS – Outbreaks of violence were reported on Saturday, on Paris’s Champs Elysées, where thousands of ’yellow vests’ gathered for the 18th weekend of protests against the French government’s fiscal and social policy. They set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police firing tear gas and water cannon. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on French television that an estimated 10,000 protesters were protesting in Paris and another 4,500 around France. That was up from about 3,000 protesters in Paris last weekend. The violence comes after a two-month national debate that President Emmanuel Macron organized to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, high unemployment, stagnant wages and general income inequality.
EPP SUMMIT - The elections for the European Parliament in May are held in a symbolic year that marks 30 years since the fall of the totalitarian regimes, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said Saturday in Bucharest at the summit of the European People’s Party (EPP). Europe cannot go back in time and voting remains the best way of sanctioning the populist and demagogical discourse that has become so virulent, the Romanian President went on to say. Iohannis resumed criticism levelled at the Social Democratic Party, the main party in the government coalition, which he says displays a false patriotism by trying to induce people the idea that Europe is a threat, which is a cynical and irresponsible way of making politics, President Iohannis has pointed out. According to the National Liberal Party, a member of the European People’s Party (PPE) and the main opposition party in Romania, the summit in Bucharest enjoys the participation of over 150 mayors and regional leaders from the EU as well as of 3,000 mayors from Romania. The EPP candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, Manfred Weber, will present his vision on the future of the EU and the structure of the EPP program for the EC’s presidency.
PSD – The leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main party of the leftist ruling coalition in Romania, on Saturday at a meeting of one of the local branches, said his party invokes patriotism because this is an issue that bothers certain people. There are politicians, Dragnea said, who do not want to upset the leaders in Brussels. The Social Democratic EMPs must have the courage and determination of a Romanian patriot, and must fight for programs that support Romania. Dragnea took the occasion to blame again President Klaus Iohannis for the delays in adopting the 2019 budget bill which had been promulgated on Friday.
ATTACK - The 28-yer old Australian Brenton Turrant, the main suspect of the attack on two mosks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 49 people dead, appeared in Court on Saturday morning on a single murder charge. Further charges are expected to be made against him. Tarrant was described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist". New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern said the suspect had a firearms licence and owned five guns. Ardern said the guns used by the attacker appeared to have been modified, and that the suspect's car was full of weapons, suggesting "his intention to continue with his attack". Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, she said the suspect had obtained a gun licence in November 2017 that allowed him to buy the weapons used in the attack.
S&P - Standard & Poor's (S&P) has reconfirmed Romania’s rating at BBB-/A-3 for the long and short-term debt in domestic and foreign currency, and also the stable outlook. S&P forecasts, on the other hand, that Romania’s economy will slow down even more in 2019, to 3.5%, due to reduced foreign demand and less private investment. Improving the country rating, S&P says, depends on the progress made in adopting the institutional reforms and the degree to which Romania manages to increase domestic investment, by absorbing European funds for example.
TENNIS - The extraordinary run of teenager Bianca Andreescu, a Canadian of Romanian origin, continues at the BNP Paribas Open, as she knocked off No.6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, to advance to the second final of her season and career at Indian Wells. In the first meeting between the two players, 18-year-old Andreescu survived two hours and 12 minutes of momentum shifts before claiming her second Top 10 win and increasing her outstanding win-loss record for the year to 27-3 across all levels. "I'm actually shaking right now," said an emotional Andreescu, to open her post-match press conference. "It's just so incredible. I'm honestly speechless," Andreescu has said. (Translated by Elena Enache)