A review of the week's top stories.
Government reshuffle in Bucharest
Three new ministers proposed by the Social Democratic Party, the senior member of the ruling coalition in Bucharest, were sworn in on Tuesday in the presence of the country’s president Klaus Iohannis. The ministers in question are Paul Stanescu for the development ministry, Felix Stroe for the transport ministry and Marius Nica for the ministry of European funds. They replaced Sevil Shhaideh, Rovana Plumb and Razvan Cuc, who have resigned. Razvan Cuc was blamed for his ministry’s lack of results, while Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb are under investigation by the National Anticorruption Directorate. The anticorruption body says that in 2013, through the concerted action of persons holding public office, part of the Danube’s Belina Island and Pavel Branch were illegally transferred from state property to that of the Teleorman county and under the management of the Teleorman County Council before being leased out, again illegally, to a private company a few days later. Prosecutors say the two properties belonging to public domain could not become the property of a county council through a government order but only through law. A minister of the environment and climate change at the time, Rovana Plumb is accused of complicity to abuse of office. Given that she is also a Member of Parliament, her fellow MPs had to vote on Tuesday on a request by the Anticorruption Directorate to have her immunity lifted to allow the start of prosecution. MPs, however, voted against the Directorate’s request with only 99 yes and 183 no votes.
Decisions of the Country’s Supreme Defence Council
The Country’s Supreme Defence Council chaired by president Klaus Iohannis met this week and approved Romania’s participation in the European Union’s initiative in the area of defence. Bucharest thus intends to take part in ten projects forming part of the PESCO Permanent Structured Cooperation programme, which gives the member states that fulfil advanced criteria in the field of military capabilities and wish to take on additional commitments the possibility to cooperate in a structured way. The issue of common defence was also discussed in Brussels this week at the autumn meeting of the EU Council, where Romania was represented by president Klaus Iohannis. The latter agreed with the EU Council president Donald Tusk that the central Romanian city of Sibiu would host an informal meeting of EU leaders on 9th May 2019, on Europe Day, to discuss the future of the Union after the UK’s departure. Romania is to hold the rotating presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019.
Trade Winds, in Bucharest
Romania has a lot to offer in areas such as agriculture, information technology and industrial production, prime minister Mihai Tudose said on Thursday in Bucharest at the Trade Winds 2017 US trade mission. He mentioned Romania's sustained economic growth, its partnership with the European Union and NATO and its 20-year long strategic partnership with the United States. The US ambassador to Bucharest Hans Klemm said Romania is Washington's best ally and friend in the region and pointed out this country needs to ensure a predictable and transparent business environment to attract investors. Europe and the US have common interests and can play an important role at global level, in the field of innovation, job creation, IT, advanced production systems and online trade, Dale Tasharski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe International Trade Administration U.S. Department of Commerce has said. The American official has also said that the US has picked South-eastern Europe for investment, because it has 60 million consumers, a cumulated GDP of 500 billion dollars, a favourable geographic and demographic position, a developing middle class and a strong entrepreneurial class. Last year, trade between Romania and the US stood at 2 billion dollars. Trade Winds is the biggest trade promotion event organised by the US government aimed at bringing together American and foreign businesses. Its tenth edition, which is under way until the 24th of October in South-Eastern Europe, has at its centre the Romanian capital.
The Romanian minority in Ukraine
Members of the ethnic Romanian community in Cernauti, western Ukraine, protested on Tuesday in front of the Regional Administration headquarters, and staged what they called the “funerals of the Romanian language.” It was their way of protesting against the education law that drastically restricts the national minorities’ rights to education in their mother tongue. Under this piece of legislation, ethnic minority children can only study in their mother tongue in nursery and primary school, after which education exclusively in the Ukrainian language becomes compulsory. On Wednesday, in a telephone talk with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis strongly expressed his discontent with the new education law in the neighbouring country. Ukraine is home to almost half a million ethnic Romanians. Iohannis called on his Ukrainian counterpart to make sure that his country respects the commitments made before the Romanian side in terms of observing the international norms and standards in the field of minority rights protection.