WB Romania's economy is expected to grow by 4.3% this year after last year's 3.9% contraction, says the latest World Bank report published on Wednesday. According to the same report, the economic growth would be supported by the improved economic activity in the second half of 2021. This economic growth will also depend on the success of the vaccination rollout, the political response to the medical crisis as well as by the EU performances. World Bank also expects a 4.1% economic growth for the next year with an inflation rate around 3% in 2021 and of 3.2% in 2022. Inflation is expected to go down to 2.9% in 2023.
COVID-19 As many as 6,156 new COVID-19 infections were reported on Wednesday in Romania out of 41,000 tests. 14 counties are in the red zone, meaning they have infection rates above 3 per thousand. Ilfov County near Bucharest has the highest infection rate, over 9 per thousand, and the capital city is over 7 per thousand. The autorities also announced 129 deaths and 1,412 patients in intensive care, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Authorities have again pointed out that only through vaccination and observance of the prevention rules will Romania be able to get rid of the pandemic. According to physician Andreea Moldovan, state secretary with the Health Ministry, the third wave is different than the others, with a higher number of cases and increased gravity. In her opinion, if containment measures are relaxed or ignored by people, they would stay in force for longer. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout is in full swing in Romania with over 2 million vaccinated; half of them with the booster dose.
PROTESTS For the third night in a row, Bucharest and several big cities across Romania on Tuesday saw large-scale protests against the anti-Covid measures imposed by the authorities. Chanting anti-government slogans, the protesters called on the authorities to cancel the mandatory wear of face masks and reopen gyms and fitness facilities. Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday said that he understands the discontent of the Romanians after a year of restrictions, adding these measures are the only means that can help Romania to contain the pandemic. The Romanian president also said that protests are normal in a functioning democracy but violence, extremism and xenophobia are intolerable and completely unacceptable. The president's statement came after clashes in some of Romania's cities. Opposition leader Marcel Ciolacu said that people took to the streets out of poverty and despair caused by the ongoing medical crisis.
TALKS The Romanian foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu and the US secretary of state Antony Blinken Tuesday had talks over telephone about Romania's contribution to NATO, energy security and the rule of law. Washington praised Romania for being a staunch NATO ally and for its commitment to strengthening security at the Black Sea, while Bucharest gave assurances these approaches would continue. The two officials also tackled the developing bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and the efforts to diversify gas supplies in Europe. Minister Aurescu mentioned the priority of Romania's government related to the country's OECD accession and voiced his belief that the US would support Romania's intention. He also highlighted the interest in the rapid progress of the Visa Waiver programme and an increased US military presence in Romania.
ANTI-SEMITISM The Chamber of Deputies Wednesday adopted a joint statement condemning anti-Semitic messages in Romania and attempts at rehabilitating war criminals. The response comes after actress Maia Morgenstern, head of the State Jewish Theatre in Bucharest, received death threats. Anti-Semitism is a threat to democracy, and acknowledging the past is a key element of responsibility, both in the present and in the future, reads the statement signed by the Deputies at the initiative of the representative of Jewish communities in Parliament, Silviu Vexler.
AIR POLICE The Spanish Air Forces unit deployed to Romania in early February, at the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base, has completed its mission. The 130-strong team of pilots and technicians with 6 Eurofighter Typhoon conducted air police missions under NATO command jointly with Romanian Air Forces troops using F-16 and MiG-21 LanceR. The Spanish unit will be replaced by a British Royal Air Force unit currently being deployed to Romania. (tr. A.M. Popescu)