Romania’s Higher Defense Council meets in Bucharest on Tuesday, US Department of State calls on Parliament to reject modifications to justice laws
Higher Defense Council – Romania’s Higher Defense Council is meeting today in Bucharest to tackle the participation of Romanian military, in 2018, in various missions outside Romania as well as the stage of implementation of the decisions made in the summer of 2016 at the NATO summit held in Warsaw. One of them was the setting up of a multinational brigade in Romania under the command of the Multinational Division Southeast. In Warsaw NATO assumed a clear decision regarding a package of naval and airborne measures in the Black Sea, measures that were approved this year in February at the defense ministers’ meeting. The anti-missile defense shield in Deveselu, in southern Romania, was placed under NATO command following a decision made in Warsaw.
US State Department – The US Department of State on Monday published on the institution’s website an official statement in which it expresses concern with the fact that the Romanian Parliament intends to pass legislation which, according to the American officials, will affect the anti-corruption fight and might weaken the independence of the judiciary in Romania. The US State Department considers that these laws, initially proposed by the Justice Ministry, threaten the progress Romania has made in the past years in its effort to build strong judicial institutions, protected from political intervention. The US State Department has called on Romania’s Parliament to reject the proposals that undermine the rule of law and endanger the fight against corruption. In reaction to the communiqué of the US State Department, the Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader, said that Parliament could not be stopped from making laws. In the latest monitoring report issued as part of the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification on November 15, the European Commission writes that the global pace of reforms stagnated and the challenges posed to the independence of the judiciary were a major reason of concern. On Sunday protests took place in Bucharest and other cities of Romania and also abroad against the modifications brought to the justice laws and the fiscal code.
Contracts – Contracts were signed Tuesday in Bucharest for the building of a new gas pipeline as part of the BRUA European project, that will link the natural gas networks from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The deputy prime minister Marcel Ciolacu said that BRUA was a priority for the government, being a very important project for Romania’s energy security and independence. On Romania’s territory the pipeline will cover 529 kilometers and its conveyance capacity to Bulgaria will be 1.5 billion cubic meters per year and 4.4 billion cubic meters per year to Hungary. The project costs 547.4 million dollars of which 179 million were allotted by the EU.
Agriculture – The Romanian agriculture minister, Petre Daea, on Tuesday signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund, which provides for the implementation of a financial lending instrument run under the 2014-2020 National Rural Development Program. It will allow easier access to funding for farmers and entrepreneurs in the rural areas, more funds and smaller interest rates. The money allotted under this program amounts to almost 94 million euros. The European Investment Fund is an international financial institution, part of the European Investment Bank Group, specializing in risk funding for SMEs. The European Investment Fund supports the EU’s objectives by boosting innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs.
Ashgabat – Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, is hosting on Tuesday and Wednesday the 28th meeting of the Energy Charter Conference. The event gathers leaders and representatives of the energy ministries of the member and observer states and of several regional and international organizations. In 2018 Romania will take over from Turkmenistan the presidency of the Energy Charter Conference, with the position of president being held by Mihnea Constantinescu, Special Ambassador and Representative for Energy Security at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Energy Charter started in 1990 as a political initiative launched in Europe. It is a platform of cooperation in the energy field, accepted both by the Eurasian states and the developed countries. In 1991 the European Energy Charter was signed in The Hague, while the year 1994 saw the signing, in Lisbon, of the Energy Charter Treaty and of the Energy Charter Protocol relating to energy efficiency and environmental issues. Romania ratified the two documents in 1997. (translation by L. Simion)