REFERENDUM – Nearly 19 million Romanian voters are invited on Saturday and Sunday to vote on a proposed redefinition of the concept of family in the Constitution. The initiators aim to define “family” as an institution based on the marriage of a man and a woman, rather than the marriage of spouses, as it is at present. The Parliament has passed a bill in this respect, based on a citizen initiative for which 3 million signatures have been raised. The referendum sparked fiery debates between the initiators, a Christian coalition primarily supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the supporters of sexual minority rights. The Romanians living abroad may vote in 378 polls hosted by diplomatic missions, consular offices, cultural institutes and other locations. The largest number of polls abroad will be in Italy, Spain, the Republic of Moldova, the USA, UK, France and Germany. The referendum will be validated provided that at least 25% of the eligible voters cast valid votes.
MEETING - Hungary supports Romania’s efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday. The Hungarian official had a meeting on Friday with the Romanian Minister for the Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Stefan Radu Oprea, on which occasion they discussed topics of mutual interest. Péter Szijjártó said Romania is his country’s second largest export market for which reason Hungary is interested in strengthening cooperation with Romania in a number of sectors.
JUDICIARY – The former tourism minister Elena Udrea and the former chief of the anti-mafia prosecutor’s office (DIICOT) Alina Bica, will be detained for 2 months pending an extradition decision, said on Thursday the Interpol office in Costa Rica, where the 2 were apprehended. They had both filed asylum applications in that country. Elena Udrea has received a final 6-year prison sentence from the Supreme Court for bribe taking and abuse of office. The former head of the Directorate Investigating Organised Crime, Alina Bica, was in turn sentenced to 4 years in prison for aiding and abetting. Udrea and Bica are not the only former high-level officials that have fled the country to escape prison sentences for corruption offences. This is the case with the former mayor of Constanta, Radu Mazare, who is in Madagascar at present, and the former MP Sebastian Ghita, currently in Serbia.
NOBEL – The Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who treated sex violence victims in his home country, and Nadia Murad, a Kurdish human rights activist having survived Islamic State sexual slavery, are the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee explained that it has awarded the 2 “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war”. Both had a crucial contribution to raising awareness with respect to this type of war crimes and in fighting them. The Nobel season ends this Monday with the award of the Economy Prize in Stockholm.
EDUCATION - UNESCO estimates that 69 million teachers are still needed around the world, in order to reach the education targets set for the year 2030. The shortage of teaching staff particularly affects vulnerable categories, girls, children with disabilities, refugees and migrants, children from poor rural communities or isolated areas, the organisation warns on the International Education Day, celebrated on Friday in Romania as well. In her message, PM Viorica Dăncilă said education is a chance for individual development and the foundation of a strong, developed country, with a voice heard at international level, like Romania. In turn, President Klaus Iohannis emphasised that the education system must provide youth with the skills required in the labour market, including in terms of adjusting to the challenges of a digital society.
FRIGATE – “King Ferdinand” frigate is, as of Friday, under the Allied Sea Command (MARCOM) and carries out sea traffic surveillance missions in the Mediterranean, as part of Operation Sea Guardian, the Romanian Defence Ministry announced. Operation Sea Guardian was launched following the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016, to discourage threats against NATO partners, the said source added. The 240-strong crew of “King Ferdinand” frigate will conduct missions in the Mediterranean, thus confirming Romania’s status as a security provider holding operational platforms deployable in various unstable regions in the world, where NATO military presence is required for security reasons. The frigate will conclude its missions in the Mediterranean in late October.
GUAM – Chisinau hosted on Friday a meeting of the Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM heads of government. The organisation comprises the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova. Participants discussed topics of mutual interest for the member states, with a view to improving cooperation between the 4 states. Moldovan PM Pavel Filip announced the initiation of talks regarding the setting up of a free trade area between the four states, of a common transport corridor and the prospect of removing roaming tariffs. The Moldovan official also emphasized the importance of cooperation in ensuring peace in the region. On the sidelines of the summit, the Moldovan PM Pavel Filip had meetings with his counterpart in Ukraine and Georgia, Volodimir Groisman and Mamuka Bakhtadze, and with the deputy PM of Azerbaijan, Ali Akhmedov. The Republic of Moldova this year is holding the rotating presidency of GUAM, an organisation created in 1997 as an alternative to the Community of Independent States.