EU Summit in Sibiu
The highlight of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union this semester was the informal meeting of EU heads of state and government hosted by Sibiu. 36 official delegations, 400 high-ranking officials, some 900 journalists and 100 interpreters came to Sibiu for the two-day summit. The event expressed the unity and determination of EU leaders to continue European integration, President Klaus Iohannis, the host of the event, said. Participants adopted the so-called Declaration of Sibiu, a manifesto expressing the unity of Member States as the underlying principle for building the future of Europe.
EU leaders pledged to protect the European way of life, democracy and the rule of law, observe fairness on the common labor market, in welfare and in the economy. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in turn said the unity expressed on the sidelines of the summit is not just for show, but real and robust. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, also said he wants the nominations for the new EU leadership to be announced before June, which is why he has called a meeting of EU leaders on May 28, just after the European Parliament election. He continued his speech in Romanian to congratulate the organizers:
Donald Tusk: “When we met in January, at the beginning of your Presidency – when I spoke with such conviction, and so emotionally about Romania – I was speaking with confidence, because I know that you are truly remarkable. You have organized an exceptional summit and you can be proud of your work, just as Europe is proud of you. I have fallen in love with Sibiu, the whole of Europe has fallen in love with you”.
Pundits argue the effects of the message of unity and optimism conveyed in Sibiu will become visible only in two weeks, when the results of the European Parliament election will either conform or disprove opinion polls, according to which euroscepticism and anti-European sentiment are gaining momentum in several member states.
Cold shower in Brussels
The European Commission has this week downgraded its economic growth forecast for Romania to 3.3%. In January, the Commission expected the economy to grow by 3.8% of the GDP, as against the 5.5% estimate based on which the state budget for 2019 was built. GDP growth eased considerably starting last year, EU experts show. Private consumption remains the main engine of growth, driven by the increase in public wages, of effects of which were however offset of a significant hike in prices. The Commission’s forecast also shows that the uncertainty and unpredictability of public policies may also have a negative effect on consumption and investment, hampering growth.
The 1990 miners’ raid again in the spotlight
The High Court of Cassation and Justice in Romania has decided to send the so-called miners’ raid case of 13th to 15th June 1990 back to the prosecutor general’s office. The raid put an end to a large demonstration against the leftist government that had come to power after the fall of the communist dictatorship. Preliminary chamber judges said the military prosecutors’ investigation was not valid and returned the file. The interim prosecutor general Bogdan Licu has appealed the court’s decision. Two years ago, the military prosecutor’s office indicted the former president Ion Iliescu, the former prime minister Petre Roman, the former deputy prime minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu and the then director of the Romanian Intelligence Service Virgil Magureanu.
They were accused of masterminding and directly coordinating, including by bringing the miners from Jiu Valley to Bucharest, the attack against the demonstrators in the University Square who were peacefully expressing their political views, which were at odds with those of the majority in power at that time. 1,300 were wounded, more than 1,000 arrested abusively and at least six were killed in those most dramatic days in the country’s post-communist history. Five years ago, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling obliging Romania to continue investigations into the miners’ raid of the June 1990.
Romanians in the world
Foreign minister Teodor Melescanu has requested president Klaus Iohannis to call back Romania’s ambassador to Washington George Maior. A ministry press release reads that the proposal came after an analysis of Maior’s term and whose actions no longer allow him to promote in a credible way Romania’s interests in the United State, a strategic partner of Bucharest. In April, a specialist parliamentary committee accused Maior that before being sent to Washington, in the almost ten years in which he ran the Romanian Intelligence Service, he used the service for personal interests and gravely harmed the rights and fundamental liberties of the Romanian citizens and the country’s interests.
The ambassador said he was shocked by the accusations made against him and called for the full declassification of the hearings in the parliamentary committee for the control of the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service. Also expected back in Romania is the former Social Democrat mayor of Constanta, the biggest port on the Romanian Black Sea, Radu Mazare, who was arrested in Madagascar. In February, he was wanted internationally after being convicted to 9 years in prison in a case concerning fictitious land returns, one of the many corruption cases he was involved in the 15 years he was mayor of Constanta, a period in which he won four terms.