Political negotiations in Bucharest
Almost two weeks from starting negotiations, between the Liberal Party, the Social Democrats, and the Hungarian Union, the announcement came that on Thursday Romania will have a sworn in government. The three political formations continued this week discussions on the governing platform, and unblocked negotiations. After Social Democrats firmly rejected Liberal chairman Florin Citu for another term as PM, the Liberals once again proposed for the position interim Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca. The Social Democratic proposal was their chairman, Marcel Ciolacu. The latter said, however, that it was not yet clear who would hold the prime ministerial position first in the rotation, but that the first party to have that position would cede the position of finance minister to the other party. Once the governing platform is set, the three parties are able to discuss the structure and the composition of the new executive. The present political crisis in Bucharest started when Florin Citu, interim head of government at the time, was dismissed by censure motion introduced by the present negotiation partners, and voted for by USR and AUR. Two subsequent attempts to form a minority cabinet have failed.
The healthcare system in Romania gets some breathing room
While some European countries seem to be on the verge of a new wave of a pandemic, this week in Romania new COVID infections and deaths have dropped in number. Cases, however, are still in the thousands, and deaths in the hundreds. As a result, the number of people in hospital or in grave condition is dropping as well. In addition, more ICU beds are available, while at the peak of this fourth wave of the pandemic there were none. On Thursday, the National Public Health Institute announced that over 89% of people who died of COVID in Romania in the last week were unvaccinated. After repeated calls from the authorities, 11 months from the start of the vaccination campaign, Romania huddled through the threshold of 7 million people with a full regime of jabs. This is far from the European average, and the target set by the authorities at 10 million Romanians with the complete scheme. The vaccination campaign took flight anew in the last few weeks, and the trend kept at almost 100,000 jabs a day. Many say that the explanation is the fear of the disease, and the lack of access to malls and restaurants without a green certificate. What also contributed to the speed of the campaign was the introduction of a bill in Parliament of a law that regulates the obligation of the green certificate in workplaces, on the pattern of some European states, which have already imposed their requirement for some categories of employees, or even all employees. In Bucharest, the bill is being fought over ardently by political parties. Even though the bill did not pass the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies is still the deciding forum, which means that if the latter votes it in by next week, when the decision is set to be made, it becomes law. Until then, fictitious vaccinations are under scrutiny. A number of people, such as nurses or registration workers, have been detained by the National Anti-corruption Directorate for taking part in issuing thousands of fake green certificates, which are worth a few hundred Euros each. Some have been placed under arrest.
Europe is worried by the low vaccination rate in Romania
On a mission to Bucharest, the European commissioner for the inner market, Thierry Breton, urged Romania to adopt the green certificate, already in used by many states, and called for European solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The commissioner discussed with the head of state, Klaus Iohannis, the process of vaccination. The president admitted that Romania has to accelerate the process. In turn, Commissioner Breton assured the president that the EC continues its efforts to combat the pandemic, and pleaded for proper use by member state of instruments and mechanisms created by the EU. According to him, implementing the green certificates takes 'political courage'. Breton said, 'Yes, it is important for it to be used, because we know that the green certificate and vaccinations are key for survival, as well as being a part of what is important for everyone, European community'. The official spoke to healthcare officials in Bucharest the worrying COVID situation, stating that the low rate of vaccination was a danger to the health of Romanians, and that it was 'a hurdle in Romania's path to complete recovery, as well as the EU's in general'.
New visit to Brussels
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu took part this week in Brussels to the ministerial meeting of the Eastern Partnership, along its partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. During the talks, the minister underlined enhanced efforts for an ambitious partnership that reflects the need for recovery, for consolidating resiliency, and enhanced reforms in the region. Bogdan Aurescu specified that European aspirations and efforts for integration for associate states need to be recognized and supported. According to the Foreign Ministry, the Romanian minister pleaded for the identification of concrete options for more sector cooperation in transportation, energy, green economy, the environment, trade, and investments.