PROTEST – Some 100,000 people on Friday protested in front of the Government building in Bucharest, joining in the rally of Romanians living in the Diaspora. Protesters called for the demise of the Government and early elections. Violent clashes have been reported between protesters and gendarmes. The riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. The Police said groups of instigators infiltrated the crowds in front of the Government building who assaulted riot police officers. Hundreds of people required medical care. The authorities prepared for a large number of participants in the event, and have deployed an appropriate security detail to ensure public order. The gendarmes urged protesters to refrain from any acts of violence. Similar actions on a large scale in solidarity with the rally in Bucharest were held in Brasov, Sibiu, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca and Baia Mare. In a message on social media, President Klaus Iohannis has condemned the riot police’s “disproportionate” use of force on Friday and called on Interior Minister Carmen Dan to provide an immediate explanation for her management of the situation.
PENSIONS - Romanian Labor Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu presented publicly the new pension bill in the public sector. The document was published on Thursday on the ministry website, announcing higher pensions and the elimination of inequities in the system. It also provides for pensions to be paid out function of individual contributions. It also states that people who have worked the same amount of time but retired at different times receive the same amount in retirement benefits. The pension reference point is supposed to be raised incrementally by 70% until 2021 up from 1,100 lei as it is at present. The bill is supposed to be submitted to Parliament for debate next month, enabling it to come into effect, if voted on 1 January 2019.
APPLICATIONS – The Justice Ministry on Friday launched the procedure for appointing the new Romanian judge at the European Union Court of Law. Applications must be submitted until August 24. According to the ministry, applicants must also include an affidavit showing they never worked as agents or informers of the political police and are not working as undercover agents of intelligence services. Accepted applications will be followed by an interview before the Committee presided by the Justice Minister over September 11-12. Romania is one of the nine member states designated to appoint an additional judge at the European Union Court of Law. Member States are invited to make their proposals for the seats left vacant before October 1, 2018. The nine judges will start their term in office on September 1, 2019.
REACTION – The Romanian Foreign Ministry has expressed its deep concern with the escalation of violence in Gaza on the Israeli border. The Foreign Ministry calls on all parties involved to prevent the situation from further escalating. At the same time, the Ministry has expressed support for international efforts to bring all hostilities to a halt. Over the last few days the Israeli army has launched air strikes on 150 targets in Gaza in reaction to Gaza’s missile attack on Israel. Several people died and scores were wounded in the conflict.
AGRICULTURE – Nearly a quarter of Romania’s population was employed in agriculture in 2017, placing Romania in top position at EU level, where the agriculture employment average stands at 4.5%, according to data released by Eurostat. Romania has 24% of its population employed in the agriculture sector, followed by Bulgaria with 19%, Greece with 11% and Poland with 10%. As regards employment in the industry sector, last year the Czech Republic had the largest employment share, 36%, followed by Slovakia and Poland, both with 31%, and Romania with 30%.
SWINE FEVER VIRUS – The number of African swine fever hotbeds in Romania has reached 645, located in eight counties in the northwest and the southeast, the National Health and Food Safety Authority has announced on Friday. Over 83,000 pigs from pig farms and households were slaughtered. Animal owners will be compensated for their losses, as additional funds have been earmarked under the new budget adjustment bill to eradicate the disease. In Giurgiulesti, the Republic of Moldova, an automatic mobile disinfection system was set up, in the context of the disease spreading to neighboring Moldova. The system disinfects all vehicles entering Moldova, both from Romania and Ukraine. Since early 2016, a total of 15 swine fever hotbeds were identified in Moldova.
(Translated by V. Palcu)