A review of the most important events of the week.
The anti-Covid vaccination continues to be the top priority of the ruling coalition in Romania, faced with the first crisis of trust
The first crisis of trust faced by Romania's centre-right ruling coalition formed by the National Liberal Party, the Save Romania Union and PLUS Alliance and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, has ended after the leaders of the three groups reached an agreement. The conflict started from PM Florin Cîțu's disagreements with health minister Vlad Voiculescu, whom he sacked overnight, without consulting the coalition partners. In response, the Save Romania Union and PLUS Alliance whose representative Voiculescu was, asked for Cîțu to step down as a condition to stay in the coalition. The conflict was settled, however, after a few days of mutual accusations and talks, when the coalition leaders signed an update to the coalition agreement. Under the updated protocol, the PM can revoke a minister after previously informing the party the minister represents and after discussing the matter with the coalition partners. The Covid vaccination is a priority for the coalition, the protocol also reads. This is also the priority of Ioana Mihaila, the new health minister from USR-PLUS, who has taken over the post this week. At the swearing in ceremony, President Klaus Iohannis said Ioana Mihaila took over a very difficult position, at a very difficult time.
The President called for more dialogue and fewer disputes among coalition members. Fighting the pandemic and saving as many lives as possible is the top priority now, President Iohannis said. The head of state urged people to use every facility available to get the vaccine. According to the authorities, the vaccination capacity at present is 120 thousand people a day and the objective is to have about 35% of the active population vaccinated by the 1st of June. An opinion poll conducted by the MedLife medical network shows that Romania's intention for vaccination is below initial estimates, with only about 30% of those aged over 16 planning to get the vaccine by year-end. The main reason behind this is the fear of side effects. Around 3 million Romanians have so far got at least one dose of the vaccine. The infection rate has decreased lately, says PM Florin Citu, who admits that the situation in intensive care units remains complicated and requires a lot of resources.
Romania-Poland-Turkey Trilateral on security issues, in Bucharest
After having attended, at the start of the week, the EU foreign ministers' meeting, held in a video-conference format, the Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu hosted in Bucharest a Romania-Poland-Turkey Trilateral on security issues. Talks focused on the best ways of cooperation in this format, with a focus on the security situation in NATO's eastern neighborhood, the regional security agenda and preparations for the NATO Summit this year. Romania is not threatened directly by the evolutions at the Black Sea, but the situation must be de-escalated. The statement was made by the Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, who voiced concern at Russia's largest troop build-up since 2014 at the Ukrainian border and inside the country and at the unusual Russian troop movement at the Black Sea, that alerted NATO, the United States and the European Union.
The Romanian minister said that the present context is marked by worrying regional developments that affect the entire region, from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea. On Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis announced that he would summon a meeting of the Higher Defense Council next week, to discuss the situation in the Black Sea area and the presence of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine. According to international estimates, Russia has sent around 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine, in the occupied Crimea and at the Black Sea, in the past few weeks. Their withdrawal was insistently asked by the western governments, and on Thursday Moscow made a first step towards easing tensions by announcing their withdrawal until the 1st of May. Russian Defense Minister, Serghei Soigu, said ”the troops proved their ability to ensure a trustworthy defense of the country”.
Romania reaffirms its support for Moldova's European path and remains its most important partner
Romania remains the most important partner of Moldova's citizens, proof thereof being the consistent support offered by it in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, said Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at a meeting he had on Tuesday with the Moldovan President Maia Sandu. The two heads of state analysed the implementation stage of projects agreed upon during the Romanian President's visit to Chisinau, on December 29, 2020. Romania has donated Moldova medical and protective equipment worth 2.3 million euros and over 200,000 vaccines this year. Iohannis reiterated the firm support of Maia Sanu's agenda of reforms, in keeping with the bilateral Strategic Partnership and the priviledged relations between the two countries. Also, Iohannis said that Bucharest will continue to support Moldova's European path. In her turn, Maia Sandu thanked Romania for its support, especially in the difficult context generated by the pandemic, and said she will continue efforts for the implementation of reforms. (EE)