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Posts tagged ‘Mystical Land of Romania’

Romanian president to seek new term, backs corruption fight

June 23, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president said Saturday he would seek a new term in office, pledging to fight corruption after the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party was convicted for abuse of power in office.

President Klaus Iohannis said he decided to make the announcement after Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea was given a 3½-year jail sentence this week. The president, whose mandate expires in 2019, said public confidence in the Romanian government is very low.

Later Saturday, thousands of Romanians once again held anti-corruption protests outside the government offices in the capital of Bucharest, while thousands more assembled in cities around Romania including Sibiu and Cluj. They waved Romanian flags called for the government to resign and for an early election to be held.

After the sentencing, the Social Democrats reiterated their support for Dragnea, saying he should be considered innocent pending a final verdict. They promised to implement new laws that critics say will weaken the nation’s fight against corruption.

Iohannis, a centrist, said during a visit to his native city of Sibiu that the Social Democrats were lobbying “for a criminal.” Later, supporters rallied outside his home in Sibiu, yelling: “Iohannis, don’t give up!”

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Romania’s president considers referendum on justice system

June 12, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president says he is considering a referendum on the justice system amid a contentious overhaul of the country’s laws and ongoing anti-corruption protests. President Klaus Iohannis spoke Tuesday about a May 30 constitutional court ruling ordering him to dismiss chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi after the justice minister said she hadn’t done her job properly.

Iohannis said the ruling raised questions about the roles of the president, the prosecutors and the justice minister. He accused the ruling Social Democratic Party of trying to diminish the role of the president with its overhaul of the justice system, which has sparked regular protests because of fears it would threaten judicial independence.

Romania: Thousands stage anti-corruption, government protest

May 12, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of people have gathered in Romania’s capital to protest a contentious judicial overhaul they say will make it harder to prosecute senior officials for graft. Romanians of all ages assembled in Bucharest’s Victory Square on Saturday for the protest held under a motto of “We want Europe, not a dictatorship!”

They blew whistles, waved flags and yelled “Resign!” Police ringed part of the square. Anti-corruption demonstrations have been held regularly in Romania since the current left-wing government came to power in 2016 and starting pursuing legal changes that critics fear will weaken the fight against corruption.

Gabriel Vasilache, a 35-year-old manager attending Saturday’s demonstration, said: “This government is dragging us away from Europe,” adding: “We are here for our future and our children’s future.”

Thousands of Romanian health workers protest salary cuts

April 26, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of Romanian health care workers on Wednesday protested wage cuts outside the government offices in the capital. Traffic was restricted in downtown Budapest as up to 10,000 health care workers from all over the country traveled to Bucharest for the protest. They threatened to go on strike next month if the government doesn’t resolve their salary issues. Demonstrators blew whistles and vuvuzelas, jeered and yelled “Thieves, thieves!”

Romania’s left-wing government recently approved substantial salary hikes for some state health workers, with some medics seeing their wages more than doubled. However, Leonard Barascu, heads of the Sanitas health union, said that at the same time some employees lost up to 1,100 lei ($290) of their net monthly pay.

Several protesters told The Associated Press they were angry that the government has cut compensation they get for working in dangerous or risky conditions. They said doctors had seen big salary increases, while some nurses and health assistants had lost out.

Psychiatric nurse Catalin Magda, who had traveled from the central city of Alba Iulia, said he had seen his monthly wage of 5,100 lei ($1,345) reduced by 10 percent. “We are not satisfied; we want the salary the government promised us.”

Gheorghe Pop, 46, who carries out disease control at a hospital in northern Romania, said he had personally seen his salary doubled, but was demonstrating to show his solidarity with colleagues whose wages went down.

Barascu said unions would hold talks with the government on May 2. Health Minister Sorina Pintea met hospital chiefs this week and called on them to manage their resources better to cover wage losses.

Tens of thousands stage anti-corruption protest in Romania

January 21, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Tens of thousands of Romanians on Saturday protested against legislation passed by Parliament which critics say will make it harder to prosecute crime and high-level corruption.

Protesters briefly scuffled with riot police as they massed in Bucharest’s University Square. Protesters shouted: “Thieves, thieves!” and “Resign!” and blew whistles and waved Romanian flags. They then marched toward Parliament.

Protesters of all ages came to vent their anger at the left-wing government, some accompanied by dogs or children. Architect Tiberiu Calinescu, 30, who was carrying his 4-month-old daughter, said: “I have come here for the future of my daughter,” adding “I want to live in a Romania that is civilized and close to European” standards.

Diana Gradinaru, a 45-year-old economist, said the new legislation could result in “terrible thefts” by high-level officials, citing legislation that meant video and audio recordings could no longer be used as evidence in prosecutions.

There were smaller protests in the cities of Cluj, Timisoara, Constanta, Bacau, Sibiu and Iasi. Protesters began arriving earlier in the capital by train from other Romanian cities and were greeted by people waving Romanian flags.

Last year, Romania saw the biggest protests since communism ended after the left-wing government tried to decriminalize official misconduct. Parliament last month approved amendments to laws that many say will lead to a backsliding on its anti-corruption fight.

Prime Minister-designate Viorica Dancila supports revamping the judicial system. She is an ally of Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democracy Party, who can’t be premier due to a conviction for vote-rigging.

President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the amendments, needs to sign them into law. On Friday, he wrote to the Constitutional Court saying one amendment that would allow public officials to own businesses “diminished the standards of integrity” expected from public officials.

Romania’s PM resigns after he loses support from party

January 15, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s prime minister resigned Monday after his party withdrew its support for him amid a power struggle with the party chairman. The ruling left-wing Social Democratic Party revoked its backing of Prime Minister Mihai Tudose after a meeting lasting more than five hours.

Tudose, 50, said he was quitting after a little more than six months in office “with my head high” and would clear out his office immediately. Social Democratic Party officials said Development Minister Paul Stanescu would serve as interim prime minister.

Tudose is the second prime minister ousted by the Social Democrats since they won Romania’s December 2016 general election. Party chairman Liviu Dragnea said 60 Social Democratic lawmakers voted to withdraw their support for the prime minister, four supported Tudose and four abstained from the vote.

Dragnea is ineligible to serve as prime minister due to a conviction for vote-rigging. Separately, prosecutors froze Dragnea’s assets in November as part of a probe of alleged misuse of European Union funds. He denies wrongdoing.

The conflict between Dragnea and the prime minister surfaced publicly last week when Tudose accused Interior Minister Carmen Dan of lying and called on her to resign. Dan, a close ally of Dragnea’s, refused.

Tudose’s resignation comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Romania on Tuesday. Abe is on a six-country European tour that already has taken him to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

The Social Democrats plan to meet Tuesday to decide on a new candidate for prime minister, who would need to be formally proposed by President Klaus Iohannis and then voted on by Parliament. The Social Democrats ousted their previous prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu, in June with a vote of no-confidence.

Romanians join European royals for last king’s state funeral

December 16, 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — European royalty joined tens of thousands of Romanians who wept and applauded as they said farewell to Romania’s last monarch, King Michael, who was buried next to his wife Saturday after a state funeral.

Michael, who ruled Romania twice before being forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, was remembered for his dignity and morality. He died at age 96 in Switzerland on Dec. 5. Britain’s Prince Charles, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and Spain’s former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, were among those at a pre-funeral service at the Royal Palace where Michael’s body had been laying in state for the past two days. The Swedish king saluted as Michael’s coffin was placed on a dais.

Non-European royals attending the funeral included Princess Muna al-Hussein, mother of King Abdullah II of Jordan. Other royals including Henri, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium were joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for a sung funeral service, led by the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Daniel.

Bishops wafted incense in the small cathedral where Michael was crowned for the second time on Sept. 6, 1940. Michael, who was a great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, first became king aged 5 after his father Carol II eloped with his mistress and abdicated.

Michael’s reign is best-remembered for the Aug. 23, 1944 coup he led to oust pro-Nazi leader Marshal Ion Antonescu, a move that took Romania into the war on the side of the Allies. For this, the king was awarded made a Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman and was decorated with the Soviet Order of Victory by Joseph Stalin.

After his abdication, Michael spent decades in exile working as a chicken farmer and aircraft pilot, living in Britain and settling in Switzerland. He finally got his Romanian citizenship back in 1997, eight years after the collapse of communism.

The Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty that ruled Romania from 1866 until Michael’s reign ended in 1947 no longer enjoys special status, but its heirs enjoy a certain prestige and hand out honors. Successive Romanian governments have returned castles and other properties that were seized from the royal family when the communists came to power.

The funeral procession carrying the coffin of Romania’s last king drove slowly through the capital to a railway station, where, accompanied by a phalanx of priests, the casket was put on a royal train.

It later arrived in the central town of Curtea de Arges, where priests performed a service before the late king was buried next to his late wife, Anne de Bourbon-Parme, who died last year. Earlier, thousands of ordinary Romanians crowded the streets to see the procession go by, while others threw flowers as the royal train bearing the coffin passed through railway stations on its way to burial in central Romania.

In the hours before Michael’s coffin was taken out of the palace, people gathered silently, many in tears, in Revolution Square. Church bells tolled around the country and a choir of priests sang as the coffin was taken out and was laid on a dais in the square.

Mourner Georgeta Anastasiu, 60, said the late king had been “demonized by the communists, but in the end we found out the truth about him.” She called the king “the last moral example for Romanians.” Earlier, the crowd cheered and shouted “King Michael!” as the coffin, led by Orthodox priests and a guard of honor, was transported by an army jeep toward the cathedral.

Michael’s five daughters and his estranged grandson, Nicholas Medforth-Mills, who was stripped of his title for allegedly fathering a child out of wedlock, walked behind the coffin. Journalist Vlad Mixich summed up the mood on social media.

“Today Romania is burying what it could have been; today is the funeral of a dream,” he tweeted.

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