Boycott of the first test in the mock exams ahead of middle school graduation, Simple motion tabled by Romanian opposition
Mock exams – Unionists in the public education sector on Monday called for a boycott of the first test in the mock exams taken by 8th graders ahead of middle school graduation, namely the Romanian language and literature test. Several schools in Romania boycotted the test. Some of the problems pointed out by teachers are the effects of the new salary scheme on their incomes, the method of calculating bonuses and the scarce funds for equipment purchases. On the other hand, the Education Ministry reminded trade union leaders that the employees in the system received a 20% pay raise on March 1 and that the collective bargaining agreement is being renegotiated. Trade unions promised not to initiate a labour dispute.
Motion – The Romanian Chamber of Deputies on Monday debated a new simple motion tabled by the opposition. The motion is targeted against the education minister Valentin Popa whom the Liberals accuse of lack of professionalism in dealing with the problems of the education system. The Liberals have drawn attention to the delays in paying salaries, to the lack of money for investments, which could result in the merger and closure of certain schools. Minister Popa has rejected all accusations. The vote on the motion will take place on Friday.
Corruption – The High Court of Cassation and Justice in Bucharest on Monday acquitted, through a definitive sentence, the president of the National Liberal Party Ludovic Orban. He was accused of using his influence for obtaining undue benefits. Last month Orban was acquitted in a trial court after the National Anti-Corruption Directorate accused him that in 2016 he allegedly contacted a businessman to ask for financial help for the election campaign in the run up to the local elections when he had been appointed by the Liberal Party to run for the position of mayor of Bucharest. Also on Monday the High Court of Cassation and Justice postponed for March 22 ruling a definitive sentence in the case of the former president of the Prahova county council Mircea Cosma and his son, a former MP, Vlad Cosma, who were sentenced in a court of first instance at 8 years and 5 years in prison respectively. The two Social Democrats were prosecuted by the anti-corruption prosecutors for bribe taking, abuse of office and influence peddling. Subsequently, Vlad Cosma accused the prosecutors of having used him to fabricate evidence against several Social Democratic leaders, which caused a huge political and media scandal in Bucharest.
Drills - Over 1,700 Romanian and foreign troops will take part, as of Monday until March 15th, in a large-scale multinational exercise, organised by the Romanian Navy, in Dobrogea (south-eastern Romania) and in the international waters of the Black Sea. Spring Storm 18 is based on a unique training concept which brings together the navy, air and land forces, as part of a NATO immediate assurance action plan adopted at the 2016 Summit. Romanian troops are training jointly with fellow military from the US, France and Bulgaria, and from partner countries like Georgia and Ukraine.
Rome – In Italy, the leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, on Monday claimed he had the right to govern Italy after voters did not return a majority to any single party. His anti-establishment party got 32% of the votes cast on Sunday. The coalition made up of the right wing Forza Italia and Lega Nord- the North League (far right) obtained almost 37% of the votes, while the leftist bloc, in power, got almost 23% of the votes. Italy is heading towards a Parliament without majority, after Sunday’s parliamentary elections in which the voter turnout was almost 73%. Italian analysts expect lengthy negotiations for the formation of a new government. They have remarked the failure of the center-left ruling coalition and the advance of the populist and Xenophobe parties. The European Commission expressed confidence that a stable government would be formed in Italy.
Flu – The number of people killed by the flu in Romania reached 79, the National Center for Monitoring and Controlling Transmissible Diseases announced on Monday. According to the aforementioned source, the victims were suffering from chronic diseases and had not been vaccinated against the flu.
Tennis – Romanian Simona Halep maintains the first position in the WTA ranking made public on Monday. Halep, 26, who has been holding the top position for 18 weeks, has an advance of 440 points compared to 2nd ranked Caroline Wozniacki. Third in the WTA ranking is Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Another 6 Romanian tennis players are in the WTA Top 100. Romania has two players in the WTA Race top 10: Halep on 2nd position 700 points away from the leader Caroline Wozniacki and Mihaela Buzărnescu on 10th position. (news translated and updated by Lacramioara Simion)