NATO – The current session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly continues in Bucharest today, with works in the organisation’s five committees, covering democratic governance, defence and security, science and technology, and the civil and economic dimensions of security. Among other things, participants will adopt a document on stability and security at the Black Sea, another one on strengthening the NATO – EU cooperation and a report on maintaining the Alliance’s technological lead. Yesterday in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting, the Romanian Defence Minister, Mihai Fifor, said Romania should be a Schengen country in order for the Allied troops to be more easily deployed in Europe in case of conflict. In turn, the Romanian chief of staff, General Nicolae Ciucă, said Russia’s moves, the crisis in Ukraine and the trans-national threats posed by terrorism and migration undermine the stability of the region and that all NATO member countries must stay alert.
ROMANIA-USA – Carrying on the strategic partnership with the USA was one of the topics discussed in Bucharest yesterday by PM Mihai Tudose with members of the US Congress. Tudose said Romania would remain a reliable partner for the US and NATO. The head of the Romanian Government also emphasised that Romania was a pillar of regional stability and security, and mentioned the contribution of the Romanian Army in NATO’s missions. In turn, the US Congress members offered support for the energy security projects that Bucharest intends to implement. The Chamber of Deputies Speaker Liviu Dragnea also talked with the American delegation. He discussed the importance of including Romania in the Visa Waiver programme and the means to broaden the excellent political and military cooperation into the economic sector as well.
SPAIN – Large-scale rallies against Catalan independence are scheduled to take place today in Barcelona. The well-known writer Mario Vargas Llosa announced he would take part in the protest, and called Catalan separatism a ‘disease’. Yesterday, tens of thousands protested across Spain, calling for unity and dialogue, against the background of Catalan separatist plans to unilaterally declare the region’s independence in the coming days. The secession plan comes after a referendum, ruled illegal by Spain’s supreme court, was held last Sunday, amid violent police actions that left behind some 900 people injured. In spite of Madrid’s efforts to block the referendum, over 2.2 million out of the region’s 5.3 million citizens went to polls, and 90% of them voted for Catalonia to break away from Spain. According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, quoted by Reuters and AFP, PM Mariano Rajoy said the Government might use its constitutional powers to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy and prevent it from declaring its independence.
TENNIS – The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep was defeated today by Caroline Garcia (France), 6-4, 7-6, in the Beijing tournament final. Yesterday, in the semi-finals, Halep beat Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, a victory thanks to which as of Monday Halep is the new WTA no 1. Her performance was hailed by top personalities in Romanian and world sports, Romanian politicians and tennis fans. Simona Halep’s coach, the Australian Darren Cahill, the great gymnast Nadia Comăneci and former tennis player Boris Becker of Germany were among those who congratulated Simona Halep. According to Romanian tennis player Ilie Năstase, WTA no 1 in the ‘70s, the hardest is yet to come for Simona Halep, the first Romanian tennis player to have won the top world position in the women’s singles.
WEATHER – Temperatures remain low today in Romania, with substantial rainfalls expected until tonight in the south and south-east, which are under a code yellow alert for bad weather. A code yellow alert for floods is in place for the rivers in this part of the country, where experts warn local flooding, flash floods and landslides may occur. Snowfalls are reported in the mountains. The highs of the day range between 7 and 19 degrees Celsius.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)