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Posts tagged ‘Mystical Land of Romania’

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.

Romania: Ex-King Michael, 96, in frail health, family says

November 06, 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s royal house says the health of former King Michael I, who ruled Romania twice before abdicating, has deteriorated. Michael, 96, one of the few leaders from World War II who is still alive, lives in exile in Switzerland. He is suffering from leukemia and a form of skin cancer.

In a statement Monday, the royal house said Michael’s oldest daughter, Princess Margareta, had traveled to Switzerland to be with her father. Michael announced his retirement from public life in March 2016, citing poor health.

He was king from 1927 to 1930 and then from 1940 until 1947, when he was forced to abdicate by the communists. His Romanian citizenship was restored in 1997. Michael’s wife Anne died last year. He has five daughters.

Leaders of Romania, Croatia want a one-speed Europe

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.

8 dead, dozens injured as fierce storm hits western Romania

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.

France’s Macron in Romania for talks on ‘posted workers’

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.

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