October 02, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The presidents of Romania and Croatia have called for an end to the differences between older and newer European Union members. Some newer EU members are frustrated they do not enjoy the same benefits as older EU members. Many East European members do not use the euro.
Klaus Iohannis said he and Croatian President Kolinda Gabar-Kitarovic agreed Monday on “an elimination of differences between different states (which is) very important,” Iohannis said. Grabar-Kitarovic said she opposed “a two-speed Europe,” after talks with Iohannis. She said Romania and neighbor Bulgaria, both EU members, deserve to be members of the visa-free Schengen travel zone.
She also said Romania and Bulgaria, members since 2007, should no longer be subjected to a process that monitors whether they implement reforms.
September 17, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A violent storm in Romania that produced winds of up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) an hour left at least eight people dead and dozens more injured Sunday, authorities said. Among the earliest reported deaths was a man who died in the city of Timisoara after he was hit by a billboard, while a woman was killed by a falling tree, Elena Megherea, a General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations spokeswoman in Timis County, said.
Two more people, one of whom was hit by a tree, died in the western town of Buzias. After the storm moved north, a 50-year-old man died in the northwest city of Bistrita after he was hit by a branch during a walk in the park, emergency situation officials said.
The country’s Inspectorate for Emergency Situations more than doubled the number of people injured to 67 on Sunday night. It said the storm tore roofs off schools, hospitals and houses, uprooted trees and damaged cars.
Elena Tarla, an Emergency Situations spokeswoman for Caras-Severin County, says the storm ripped out trees and downed power lines. She says many homes were without electricity. Mihai Grecu, head of the emergency department at Timis County Hospital, told national news agency Agerpres that 30 people were receiving treatment for injuries from flying objects.
Officials warned residents to stay at home or take shelter, to remove appliances from sockets, and to stay away from power transmission towers. Sunday’s storm followed days of high temperatures.
August 24, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Romania Thursday, the second leg of his trip to Central Europe where he will raise concerns over so-called “posted workers” — cheap labor from Eastern Europe posted temporarily to more prosperous European countries.
Amid tight security, Macron headed for talks with President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni presidential palace and he will later have lunch with Premier Mihai Tudose and other officials. “Posted workers” from Eastern European nations including Romania and Poland continue to pay into the tax and social security systems of their home countries, allowing employers to hire them for less than in Western countries where welfare costs are higher. The majority work in construction, but many also work as welders, electricians or carers for the elderly.
Macron wants to require companies to pay posted and local workers the same salaries and limit postings abroad to up to one year. Posted workers account for about 1 percent of the EU’s total workforce, but they are perceived as pricing out local workers in Western Europe, putting downward pressure on wages and exacerbating inequalities in wealth.
Last year, the European Commission proposed new rules to regulate the issue, requiring companies to pay posted and local workers the same. But the proposals haven’t won support from member states in central and eastern Europe.
Romania’s National Pension House says last year some 50,000 Romanian workers were posted abroad to other EU countries.
July 28, 2017
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had to scrap a trip to Moldova on Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace. Rogozin told Russian news agencies that he and other Russian officials were traveling on a commercial flight to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau when the plane was denied passage over Romania or Hungary, both European Union members. It had to land in the Belorussian capital of Minsk because it was running out of fuel.
The deputy prime minister is one of the most senior Russian officials slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Rogozin told the Interfax news agency that he started using commercial flights after Romanian authorities closed their airspace to his chartered flight in 2014.
Romania’s foreign ministry confirmed on Friday that authorities had not allowed Rogozin to enter the country’s airspace. In a tweet later Friday, Rogozin said Romanian authorities “put lives of the passengers, women and children at risk” by forcing the plane to divert. He issued a warning for the Romanian government: “You wait for an answer, bastards!”
Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, who was to meet Rogozin on Friday in Chisinau, reacted angrily. “We are watching an unprecedented Russia-phobic show, which is designed to destroy Moldovan-Russian relations,” Dodon said.
Opposition activists had gathered at the Chisinau airport earlier Friday to protest Rogozin’s visit. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday presented Romania’s envoy to Russia with a note of protest, urging an investigation into the incident and arguing that it put the lives of those onboard at risk.
“Moscow is treating the incident as a deliberate provocation, which seriously damages the bilateral relations,” the ministry said, urging Romania to investigate the incident.
Associated Press writer Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed.
June 26, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s largest party has nominated a former economy minister to be the next prime minister. The nomination of 50-year-old Mihai Tudose was announced before President Klaus Iohannis and Liviu Dragnea, the powerful leader of Romania’s biggest party, the leftist Social Democratic Party.
Normally, as party leader, Dragnea would be prime minister, but in 2016 he was convicted of vote-rigging, which disqualifies him from holding the post. The Social Democrats withdrew support for Premier Sorin Grindeanu saying he had underperformed. He refused to resign and the party and its allies ousted Grindeanu’s government in a no-confidence vote last week.
June 18, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s ruling party plans to submit a vote of no-confidence against its own government Sunday after it withdrew its support for the prime minister. Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has refused to quit, sparking a political crisis.
The center-left Social Democratic Party convened lawmakers to read out the motion against the government, a day earlier than scheduled, in its efforts to remove Grindeanu, accused of not implementing the party’s program. Parliament will vote Wednesday on whether to dismiss the government.
Grindeanu, in office since January, denies that he has underperformed. He claims the powerful party chairman, Liviu Dragnea, who can’t be prime minister because of a conviction in 2016 for vote rigging, wants to install a party loyalist as premier.
Ex-Prime Minister Victor Ponta, an ally of the prime minister, called for talks with Dragnea to resolve the crisis and avoid a no-confidence vote, which he called “an atomic war between the Social Democrats and the Social Democrats.”
Ponta said the party in-fighting would benefit President Klaus Iohannis, a political rival, who nominates a premier who is then approved by Parliament. The Social Democrats and their political allies need 233 votes out of a total of 465 seats to remove the government.
May 04, 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s constitutional court on Thursday upheld a law preventing people with convictions from serving as ministers, a victory for the country’s anti-corruption fight. The ruling deals a blow to the powerful chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, who cannot be prime minister due to a conviction last year for vote rigging.
Dragnea has called the law unfair and many Social Democrats want him to be prime minister. The court had postponed making a ruling four times. The law, introduced in 2001 as Romania prepared for membership of NATO and the European Union, bars people with convictions from serving as ministers. Dragnea could still run for president as the law does not cover that post.
In January, Romania’s ombudsman asked the court to declare it unconstitutional. In a related development, Senators who are members of a parliamentary legal committee voted Thursday to scrap a draft law they had approved the previous day that would have granted amnesty to people convicted of bribery and influence peddling.
More than 1,000 protested the vote Wednesday evening in Bucharest, joined by hundreds more in cities around Romania.