Klaus Iohannis at the Council of Europe Summit
President Klaus Iohannis participated, on Tuesday and Wednesday, together with heads of state and government from 46 member countries of the Council of Europe and the leaders of the European Union, in the fourth CoE summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. "Unity and support for Ukraine" were the key words that dominated the discussions. Klaus Iohannis stated, during the meeting, that democratic countries support Ukraine and its citizens. "Russia's war is an attack on our common values and principles. But this crisis, the most severe since the end of the Second World War, catalyzed our unity and determination to defend the democratic way of life" - said Klaus Iohannis. The head of state co-chaired a round table with the theme "Protecting democracy in trying times", stating that in recent years, the continent has faced many challenges, starting with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also with a massive wave of disinformation, which allowed the revival of accentuated nationalism. Here is Klaus Iohannis:
“Hate speech, especially on social media platforms, disinformation, manipulation, violence against journalists, malignant influences are just a few examples of the effects of these crises throughout Europe. Democratic values, civic space, press freedom, diversity and liberal democracy are all under pressure on the European continent.”
For Romania, participation in this meeting had a special meaning, because in 2023 it will be 30 years since the country joined the Strasbourg institution as a full member state.
Security Forum in Bucharest
The implications of Russia's war against Ukraine were also discussed in Bucharest, within the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum. Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă pleaded for strengthening NATO's presence in the Black Sea region, where, due to Russian threats, the freedom of maritime and air traffic is endangered. The officials present at the event appreciated that all free and democratic countries must get involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, and this also implies a possible reconstruction of the Republic of Moldova. Present at the forum, Igor Grosu, the president of the legislature in Chisinau, highlighted the dynamics of the reforms that have been undertaken, and expressed his hope that the EU will send the message regarding the start of the accession process by the end of the year. He appreciated the constant help that Romania offered to Chisinau, a fact also highlighted by the Moldovan Prime Minister, Dorin Recean.
General strike in Romanian education
The trade unionists in education announced, after being on a two-hour warning strike on Wednesday, a general strike starting on Monday, because following the negotiations, they say, no solutions were found regarding the demands of education staff. They say that teachers can no longer live on salaries of 2,000-2,600 lei (400-520 Euros) and demand a correct positioning in the future salary scale. They mainly want their work to be remunerated according to its social importance. According to them, the salary of teaching staff should be progressive, according to position, studies, seniority and teaching degree, and the rule of annual indexation of the salaries of staff paid from public funds with the rate of inflation should be established. The teachers also request the payment of overtime for work by auxiliary and non-teaching staff, as well as an annual increase in investments in education, in order to improve the material base and infrastructure. The line minister, Ligia Deca, believes that the structure of the school year or the educational process should not be jeopardized in any way, and promised to fight both for a decent salary for the teachers, as well as for the school year to take place in optimal conditions and be completed. On Monday, when the general strike is announced, the Senate has scheduled the final vote for the package of laws on education, as a decision-making body.
Spring economic forecasts
The latest economic forecasts from the European Commission show that Romania has among the best economic growth this year, compared to other EU countries, as well as a lower unemployment rate. Moreover, the Romanian economy is stable and recovering mainly due to the reduction in energy prices, consumption and investments. Thus, according to the EC, the GDP of the country should increase this year by 3.2 percent, and by 3.5% next year. Inflation, which in 2022 was 12 percent, will drop to single digits this year. As for the unemployment rate, the EC predicts that the indicator will reach 5.4 percent in 2023 and 5.1 percent in 2024. The budget deficit could decrease less than the community average, to 4.7 percent this year and to around 4 .4 percent next year - the Commission also estimates.
75 years of diplomatic relations between Romania and Israel
The Bucharest Parliament marked the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Romania and the State of Israel with a solemn meeting. It was the first time that a speaker of the Israeli Parliament spoke in front of Romanian senators and deputies. Amir Ohana emphasized the deep ties between the two countries and the fact that, in these 75 years, bilateral relations have been strengthened in fields such as technology, tourism, and the economy. Amir Ohana appreciated the fact that Romania was the only country in the communist bloc that did not break diplomatic relations, even though the state of Israel was almost permanently in a hostile environment. The interim speakr of the Senate, Alina Gorghiu, emphasized that Romania is a regional model in terms of combating anti-Semitism and taking responsibility for the Holocaust. The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Marcel Ciolacu, said that the special relationship between Romania and Israel is one based on tradition , friendship and mutual respect. The solemn meeting was attended by members of the government, of the diplomatic corps accredited in Bucharest, as well as representatives of the Jewish communities in Romania. (CC)