Visit – Hi tech and financial technologies, as well as cyber security, are the main areas of cooperation that Romania and Lithuania are considering. Economic exchanges between the two countries are growing significantly. Last year exchanges grew by 50% as compared to the previous year, and the first signals indicate that this trend will be maintained in 2022. The bilateral relationship was one of the central topics in the discussions that President Klaus Iohannis had on Thursday with his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda, during his visit to Vilnius. Another important topic on the agenda was the situation in Ukraine and the effects on the entire region. The two heads of state also discussed the new package of EU sanctions against Russia and came to the conclusion that firmer measures are needed. Klaus Iohannis was decorated with the 'Grand Cross of the Order for Merits to Lithuania'. The Lithuanian president was awarded the 'Star of Romania' National Order in the rank of Collar. On Friday, Iohannis will participate in "The Idea of Europe" symposium, organized in Kaunas by the Vytautas Magnus University, where he will give a speech. He will also take part, together with his counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, in a summit dedicated to strengthening NATO's Eastern Flank, supporting Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova and promoting European memory, with an emphasis on combating disinformation and attempts to rewrite history. On Wednesday, Klaus Iohannis made an official visit to Lithuania's neighbor Latvia, where he had talks with the president Egils Levits.
Vaccines - The Romanian Health Minister, Alexandru Rafila, on Thursday announced that the first batches of vaccine with the new formula against SARS-CoV-2 infection have arrived in Romania. He pointed out that the vaccine will be available in the family doctors' offices and in vaccination centers in the main hospitals in Romania. All those who have already had two doses of the old formula vaccine can be vaccinated with the third dose or, as the case may be, with the fourth dose, of this vaccine that protects against the newest variant BA4, BA5 Omicron - the health minister also said. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, three years ago, more than 67 thousand people infected with SARS-CoV-2 have died in Romania.
Criticism – The opposition USR (in the Romanian Parliament) launched on Thursday the "Black Book of PSD, PNL, UDMR governance", one year after the installation of the current Executive, led by the Liberal Nicolae Ciucă. The president of USR, Cătălin Drulă, said that the document is a critical report of the activity of each individual ministry. One year in the government meant record price hikes, plagiarism and failed projects - claims Drulă. AUR – the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (the nationalist opposition) launched its own document critical of the current governing coalition and drew attention to the fact that this year was marked by the bills crisis, the price hikes, the severe drought and the unfulfilled promises regarding Romania's accession to the Schengen area.
Handball - The Romanian men's handball team will play, along with Spain, Argentina and Bahrain, at the Domingo Barcenas international tournament (January 5-7) in the Spanish resort of Benidorm, organized in preparation for the 2023 World Championship. The Romanians coached by the Spanish Xavier Pascal will face three teams qualified to the 2023 World Cup, scheduled in Poland and Sweden, between January 11-29. Romania failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, which brings together 32 teams. Currently, the Romanian handball players are engaged in the preliminaries of the EHF EURO 2024 European Championship.
NATO - Next week, from Monday to Wednesday, Bucharest will host the meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member countries, thus becoming the European and Euro-Atlantic diplomatic capital, says the Romanian foreign minister, Bogdan Aurescu. In a video message, published before the event, he said that the NATO countries’ foreign ministers meeting will once again demonstrate allied unity and solidarity and seek solutions to counter the effects of Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. The conference will be hosted by Bogdan Aurescu together with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Also in Bucharest, next week, the foreign ministers of the G7 - the group of the world's richest states - will discuss how they can help Ukraine secure its energy resources for the winter, the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock announced.
Football - The Swiss national team defeated Cameroon 1-0 on Thursday in a Group G match of the World Cup in Qatar. The goal was scored by Breel Embolo, a Swiss striker born in Cameroon. Romania, which did not qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, will be in the same group, I, with Switzerland in the preliminaries for Euro 2024. The group also includes Israel, Kosovo, Belarus and Andorra. The teams ranked on the first two positions qualify for the final continental tournament. (LS)