The Romanian Foreign Ministry Tuesday said the Hungarian government’s plans to build a fence along the common border, between two EU member countries and strategic partners, was politically incorrect and came against the spirit of the EU. Romania’s response comes after Hungary decided to extend its wire fence on its southern border with Serbia, alongside the Romanian border as well, in order to stop the Middle East and northern African immigrant inflow. The Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, said the measure was prompted by the fact that the people traffickers operating on the Serbian border are changing their routes towards Hungary’s border with Romania. Bucharest will be a part of the relocation mechanism by accepting more than 1,700 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece and another 80 people from outside the EU. However, Romania joins 9 other EU states in refusing the compulsory refugee quotas suggested by Brussels.
The Prefect of Bucharest, Paul Nicolae Petrovan, Tuesday signed an order suspending the Mayor General Sorin Oprescu, after the Court of Appeals ruled that the latter should be taken in detention pending trial for bribe taking. A former member of the Social Democratic Party and later an independent politician, Oprescu was elected Mayor of Bucharest in 2008 and again in 2012. According to anti-corruption prosecutors, he received 25,000 euros in bribes. Between 2013 and 2015, Oprescu was part of an organised group that introduced a system through which those who wanted public contracts had to transfer a quota of the profits to local decision makers. Marin Stefanel Dan, a member of the National Union for the Progress of Romania, was appointed as interim mayor. Also on Tuesday the Social Democratic PM Victor Ponta appeared once again before the anti-corruption prosecutors who have charged him with corruption offences. On June 5, the Anti-Corruption Directorate ordered the prosecution of Victor Ponta, for forgery, accessory to tax evasion and money laundering, allegedly committed when he worked as a lawyer, as well as for conflict of interests with respect to his position as Prime Minister. In July, an asset freeze measure against Ponta was also announced. Romania’s first PM to be prosecuted while in office, Ponta denies the accusations and dismisses the calls for his resignation, coming from both the Liberals in Opposition and from President Klaus Iohannis.
The Social Democratic Party, in the ruling coalition in Romania, Tuesday decided to hold a special congress on October 11, to elect its new leaders. Having stepped down as party president after he was prosecuted by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the PM Victor Ponta announced he would not run for any position at this congress.
The Romanian Education Minister, Sorin Cîmpeanu, Tuesday said in parliament that reforms in the public education sector were absolutely necessary. He added a comprehensive approach must be taken, allowing for the implementation of coherent and consistent measures for periods of time that exceed one ministerial term in office. Cimpeanu addressed the Chamber of Deputies at the request of the National Liberal Party in opposition. On Monday, he had stated that the new school year started on the right foot, although many problems were yet to be solved, particularly in terms of infrastructure, textbooks and curricula.
Romania’s rugby team is leaving for England on Wednesday, to take part in the World Cup due to kick off on September 18. Romania is playing in Group D, alongside France, Ireland, Canada and Italy. The national rugby team has never missed a World Cup final tournament, although they never went past the group stage.