Sunday, June 24, 2007

Justice Minister demands Reuters to apologize

Justice Minister Tudor Chiuariu publicly demanded apologies from the Reuters news agency, as well as the rectification of an article published today about the anti-corruption campaign lacking results in Romania.

The examples of poor management of the anti-graft campaign were counted the activity of Chiuariu, the stalling of the criminal file against former PM Adrian Nastase and the limited attribution of the National Integrity Agency (set to check the dignitaries' wealth).

The press release of the Justice Ministry claims that the information in the Reuters article was based on false data. The Ministry emphasizes that during the past few weeks a former prime minister, a former president and a minister in office were officially charged or sent to court.

Chiuariu also accuses the journalist of breaking the professional deontology by not demanding an official point of view of the Ministry. For the affected image of the institution and the country, Chiuariu demanded Reuters to apologize., Jun 22, 2007

No progress in Romanian, Bulgarian Justice

The lack of results in the anti-corruption and anti-organized crime campaign in Romania and Bulgaria worries the Brussels officials.

" Six months after joining the European Union, Romania and Bulgaria have failed to demonstrate credible progress in fighting systemic corruption and organized crime, despite broad legislative reforms", Reuters comments.

The negative examples are the activity of the Romanian Justice Minister, Tudor Chiuariu, the stalling of the criminal files against former PM Adrian Nastase and the limits imposed for the National Integrity Agency, an institution that should verify the way dignitaries gain their wealth.

Some EU member states consider that Romania and Bulgaria, as poor Balkans' countries, were accepted too early in the community. The countries are still monitored by the EU officials and risk sanctions after the June 27 report, in case the Justice criteria are not met.

"We haven't seen any evidence of results, any impact on society," said one EU diplomat in Bucharest, quoted by Reuters., Jun 22, 2007

Cluj to host Development Nokia Enterprise Solutions

The Romanian city of Cluj will host not only the Nokia mobile phones production facilities but also a development center for the company's most demanded software. The Cluj center is the second in Romania, after Bucharest, to coordinate the company's commercial activities.

The Nokia Enterprise Solutions division functions in Cluj since February 2006, but it officially became part of the company only after Nokia acquired the US-originating company Intellisync.

Thus, the Research and Development team at Intellisync Cluj joined the Nokia company along with other 1,000 employees worldwide.

The center in Cluj currently employs 110 IT specialists. The main applications developed in the center refer to organizing and sending data in a secure environment: Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite, Nokia Intellisync SDK, Nokia Intellisync SyncML Server and Nokia Intellisync Device Management.

The applications may run on several platforms, including Windows and Linux., Jun 22, 2007

Drought destroys 60% of all agriculture terrain

Agriculture Minister Decebal Traian Remes declared on Friday that over 1.2 million hectares of agriculture terrain were severely affected by the draught, NewsIn informs. Only very few of the farmers have insurance for their terrain and will receive compensations.

Still, Remes ensures the populace that there is no reason for the food prices to rise.

"I am not a parliamentarian, I only have the obligation to respect the law. The compensations will go only to those who signed insurance contracts. My intention is to change the law so that all people will have to ensure their cultures", said Remes.

According to the official data, the productivity will drop to 1.6 tons of grain per hectare, much less than the previous years (2.9 tons in 2005).

The new maximum compensation level will be 70% of the expenses until the calamity status was officially declared., Jun 22, 2007

Central Bank will stop Leu growth only in case of "deep worries"

The Romanian Central Bank (BNR) will not intervene on the currency market to calm the growth of the national currency, Leu, only in case this would stir major concerns, said the BNR Governor, Mugur Isarescu, quoted by Reuters.

According to the Reuters source, Isarescu declared while participating in an event in Zurich that the possibility to intervene still exists.

The leu reached its strongest position in the last 4 and a half years, 3.192 lei per euro. BNR reduced the monetary policy interest rate 1.5%, down to 7.25% during the last year.

The most affected on the market are the exporters, who claim losing some 25 million euros per month for a 2.5 billion euro export volume., Jun 22, 2007

EU Summit: Leaders fail to agree on European Constitution

The European Council continues to be divided by severe disagreements between the European leaders. The session of the Council ended at noon, with the head of states failing to find any solution to end the crisis.

French president Sarkozy, assisted by the Lithuanian president Algirdas Brazauskas, met a Polish delegation, but didn't reach any conclusion.

Poland excludes any compromise solution on the way the votes count in the European Council, firmly rejecting the "double majority".

European MP Graham Watson believes that "The politics in Poland are run by the hate against Germany, not by European interests. Probably, the UK and Poland, along with some other states, will block the way towards any understanding".

UK refuses to accept a Foreign Minister able to decide for the 27 states. London also refuses to accept the "Fundamental Rights Chart".

The only point where the delegations agreed was to change the name of "European Constitution" with 'The New Treaty"., Jun 22, 2007

US Senate approves fuel consumption decrease plan

Despite the pressure put by the automobile construction companies, the US Senate approved on Thursday a law draft aiming at the fuel consumption decrease by 40% in the following ten years.

This is the most important document voted by the US Senate on this theme. The purpose is to significantly reduce pollution and also decrease the US dependence on Middle East oil, the AFP news agency comments.

According to the senators who supported the draft, the project leads to a 2 - 2.5 million barrels of oil saving every day and 18% less carbon dioxide emissions.

California adopted five years ago a law forcing car producers decrease the carbon dioxide emissions some 30% before 2016.

The US are responsible for 25% of the gas causing the greenhouse effect worldwide, but still refuse to abide the Kyoto protocol. President George W. Bush continues to claim that signing the treaty would jeopardize the US economy., Jun 22, 2007

What the newspapers say: June 22, 2007

Too hot for politics. As the weekend approaches and the summer brings new records in temperature and rivers' discharges, the political stage seems to enter a well-deserved holiday.

The main Opposition party, PSD, still produces low-interest news, while the elections for the European Parliament seem far enough to cause any fuss. As in "Do the right thing" or "Sal's pizzeria", as it is known in Romania, excessive heat only means more street violence.

"President Traian Basescu offered the Prime Minister seat to Mircea Geoana", claims the Liberal speaker in the House of Deputies, annoyed by the secrecy around the negotiations between the president and the main Opposition party, Social Democrats (PSD), Jurnalul National reads.

A less than significant piece of news, since the PSD already announced it will remain an Opposition party until the future elections.

"Romania - a new player in the European Union" is the headline in Evenimentul Zilei. For the first time after the accession, Romania is called to vote on the future of the community, in a moment of crisis in the development of an European Constitution.

It seems that, at least for the days spent in Brussels, president Basescu and PM Tariceanu have made peace, being the first time in over an year when the two meet without making contradictory statements.

Back home, a recent move of the Constitutional Court threatened to block for good the criminal files investigating the 1989 Revolution in Romania as well as the violent events on June 13-15, 1990, when the miners responded to president Iliescu's call and caused mayhem and destruction in Bucharest.

Prosecutor General Laura Kovesi declared on Thursday that the investigations conducted so far will remain valid, although some of the files may move from military to civil courts, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

In other news:

- Jurnalul National: The European currency reached a new minimum - 3.1999 Romanian Lei (RON), a level last seen in June 2002. The US dollar also decreased to its level in September 2000, 2.3911 RON / dollar.

- Evenimentul Zilei: 26 people died because of the excessive heat. Draught threatens over half of the Romanian counties and desertification may appear in counties already declared as "under extreme draught".

- Cotidianul: Water rationalized in half of Romania. The Government forbids people in Southern Romania to waste water on wetting or irrigating their gardens. The next decision may be to forbid car washing and street squirting.

- Romania Libera: Romania ranks first in school violence, according to a study on 37 countries. Some 70% of all students "are afraid to go to school" because of the hooligans.

- Gandul: Romanians are the most violent illegal immigrants in Italy, according to a report put up by the Italian Interior Ministry. On the other hand, the Romanian legal immigrants have a crime rate equal or lower than the rate among Italian local communities.

- Cotidianul: Romania builds three times less homes than the average in the European Union, 1.8 per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 15 in Spain and Ireland, 4.1 in Hungary or 2.9 in the Czech Republic., Jun 22, 2007

Romania boils: temperatures of over 38 degrees Celsius to come

A "yellow code" extreme heat warning announced by meteorologists two days ago is in full force in Romania today. The code applies to 22 counties in the southern part of the country, including the capital city Bucharest.

Experts argue that in some parts of the country the temperature will reach more than 38 degrees Celsius. The unbearable heat will maintain at night as well, when air temperature will not fall under 20 degrees Celsius.

Medical care in hospitals is barely keeping up with the numerous calls. Minister of Health, Eugen Nicolaescu, asked the Public Health Directions to increase the number of medical persons and extend the working schedule.

On the other hand, due to the extreme drought that affected 34 counties, the government declared state of calamity in agriculture, in more than a half of the Romanian soil.

In the majority of heat-affected cities, local authorities set up fist-aid tents., Jun 21, 2007

Euro at its five-year lowest against Romanian leu on Thursday

Romanian national currency leu (RON) appreciated against euro on Thursday reaching its highest the European single currency since June 2002, as the exchange rate decreased to 3.1999 RON/euro. The rate announced by the National Bank of Romania is smaller by 1 RON as compared to the 3.2126 RON/euro reported on Wednesday.

In the first part of the transaction session, euro grew to 3.2080 RON but after 11 o’clock the Romanian currency reached its opening level. Later on, the Romanian leu continued to increase, overcoming yesterday’s level.

As compared to the US dollar, the Romanian leu appreciated from 2.3926 RON/USD on Wednesday to 2.3911 RON/USD today. The National Bank calculates the RON/dollar rapport depending on the international market evolution., Jun 21, 2007

Romanian Economy Minister on EC hold

Romanian Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said on Thursday that until now the European Commission did not provide an answer regarding Romania's proposals on changes to a first registration car tax introduced in the country early this year, which sparked intense criticism in Brussels.

Vosganian said in a press conference that he was optimistic that the issue regarding the first registration car tax would be solved and that the European authorities sent recommendations, which refer to terminology clarifications

His declarations were stirred up by governmental sources which a couple a days before announced that the EC formulated and transmitted an official position regarding the way the Ministry chose to calculate the car tax.

Vosganian explained that the EC position was not an attitude, as interpreted, but a call for information from the Direction of Income and Customs taxes and also included suggestions to deal with the issue. The Minister added that, for example, second hand cars from the EU perspective are those older than one month as compared to three months, the Romanian view.

Romanian authorities presented, last month, to the European Commission officials the proposals regarding the first registration car tax affecting imported cars.

The new calculus formula is based on the principle that the tax quantum decreases as the age of the car increases.

For example, the value of the tax decreases to almost half, as compared to the actual tax for the Euro 4 cars not older than 1-2 years. Higher taxes will be a characteristic of non-Euro cars, and for Euro 5 cars, there is no first registration car tax.

The EC solicited the modification of the car taxing system of Romania, considering that the actual regulations are discriminatory for second hand cars, imported from other EU countries.

The first registration car tax was introduced this year, sparking complaints from the European Commission as it was seen as a means to prevent free competition on old and new car sales. A reviewed calculus for Romania’s controversial first registration car tax will be included in the fiscal code on January 1st, 2008., Jun 21, 2007

Hungarian Democrats leader Marko Bela to resign from government

Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) leader Marko Bela said on Thursday that he would resign as a member of the Romanian government minister on July 3, three days later than he had previously announced.

Bela, whose party represents the Hungarian minority in Romania, had first announced his resignation last month, shortly after a referendum where President Traian Basescu, whom UDMR opposed, was re-confirmed on office.

He said in a press conference today that he would resign as state minister in charge with cultural, education and European integration issues.

He said he recalled the date because he would be out of Bucharest on June 30, the date he first mentioned a month ago. At the time, Bela motivated his gesture explaining that he wanted to deal more with the issues his Party is going through.

Given the current political instability in Romania, the ethnic Hungarian party, Hungarian Minority's Democratic Union (UDMR), increased its relevancy in terms of its Parliamentary support for the current government., Jun 21, 2007

Britain may open labor market for Romanian, Bulgarian workers

The British Government may review limits on labor migration imposed on Romanian and Bulgarian workers and may even consider a complete elimination of the existing limits, The Guardian informs. The decision will be made in September this year and will be based on the conclusions of a Migration Impacts Forum, due to start on Thursday.

The current rules impose a threshold on the number of work permits that can be delivered to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens eager to work on the British market. The limits affect especially low-skilled workers willing to work in Britain’s food and agricultural sectors.

The Forum will lead to a report on the impact that such an opening of the British market may have. British ministers are expected to make a final decision in this regard in the last three months of 2007.

The Government in London announced in May that about 8,000 Romanian and Bulgarian workers entered Britain in the first three months after the two countries joined the European Union on January 1, 2007. Another 2,400 seasonal workers were reported.

The figures contrast strongly with the 180,000 Romanian and Bulgarian workers that British media had predicted prior to the EU accession of the two countries., Jun 21, 2007

Romanian President expects "treaty of amendment" at European Council

Romanian President Traian Basescu said prior to his departure for Brussels on Thursday that one couldn’t speak of a deal over Europe’s Constitutional Treaty because the resulting document of the summer European Council this week might be a “treaty of amendment” of three prior treaties of the EU - the Treaty of Rome, the Maastricht Treaty and Euratom.

Such a document would be the needed compromise for the European Union reform to continue, he said.

Romanian objectives for the EU Summit in Brussels, as presented by the President today:

● sustain the necessity for the European Charter of Fundamental Rights to prevail upon the internal legislation of each EU member

● sustain the necessity that the EU should have a judicial personality

● regarding the dispute of the role of the national parliaments, Romania considers that each of them needs to have an important role and be consulted by the European Parliament. Their decisions should be taken in consideration by the European Parliament

● in foreign affairs and common security issues - Romania supports the necessity of a single foreign policy of the EU

● when discussing the clause regarding the energy security, Romania will sustain the thesis of an energy support for countries in difficulty

● a controversial point in the new treaty is the future voting system within the Union. Basescu explained that Romania wishes to maintain the number of votes agreed upon by the Constitutional Treaty, even though it will have less votes

Germany proposed that the number of votes should be assigned according to each country’s population but the idea was firmly rejected by Poland and the Czech Republic. The two states want a proportional voting system, that would assure a higher importance for small states

The objective of the Romanian delegation is to make sure that the “amendment treaty” does not change the agreed clauses under the Constitutional Treaty that Romania has already signed. The President added that our country will negotiate its requirements.

Moreover, Traian Basescu assured that Romania wishes that a compromise be reached and it would do its best to make sure of this outcome.

Both Romanian President Traian Basescu and the Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu attend the European Council taking place in Brussels on June 21-22, which ends the German Presidency of the Union., Jun 21, 2007

Romania might face its hottest year in history

Increasing frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events in Romania such as the severe drought of 2000 or the devastating floods of 2005 are a direct consequence of global warming, says a top meteorologist in Romania.

Ion Sandu, the director of the National Administration of Meteorology explains in an interview for some of the reasons for which he considers 2007 to be the hottest in the Romanian history.

On the one hand, Sandu says that in Romania there’s a long term tendency (30 years) regarding the decrease of precipitations, especially in the Southern part of the country. Besides these tendencies, there are, Sandu argues, rainy periods which are a natural tendency of the climate.

On the other hand, he warns that the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events (such as the 2000 severe drought or the devastating floods of 2005 that affected many Romanian counties) is a direct consequence of global warming.

Sandu says that, even though one cannot predict climate changes on the long term, the National Administration of Meteorology has undergone various studies regarding the characteristics of the climate variabilities in Romania. Plus, the Institute collaborates with similar institutions in the EU to predict climate changes for the next decades.

When talking about global warming, Ion Sandu cites the 4th report of the Intergovernmental Committee for Climate Change, approved in 2007, which states that global warming phenomena will continue in the future even though its impact differs in regions.

Global warming is determined by both natural (variation of the sun energy, regional distribution of the land and water) and arficial factors (such as changes in the composition of the athmosphere due to human activities), he said., Jun 21, 2007

High temperature and drought hit Romanian energy system

The drought that's been affecting Romania for the last couple of months reduced the electrical energy production of the main hydro-electric power station, Portile de Fier, by 40%, the NewsIn news agency has reported. If the situation prolongues, the nuclear reactor at Cernavoda, SE Romania could be shut down, offcials from the nuclear plant told the news agency.

The sources explain that the energy production and the flow of Danube, the main river in Romania, are directly proportional with one another. The energy production in the hydro-stations work with the help of internal waters and thus present a normal debit, since the lakes have a filling level of 70%.

Specialists argue that, if the situation continues, the electricity production might be affected. Sources say that they have prevented these problems so far by decreasing the amont of energy given to contracted clients, as they predicted a dry summer.

Regarding the possible shutting down of the nuclear plant in Cernavoda, the only one in Romania, Teodor Chirica, the general director said that if the temperatures increase, such a decision would not be delayed.

The first unit of Cernavoda had been shut down in the summer of 2003 between August 24th and September 19th because of the drought for lacking enough water to cool it down., Jun 21, 2007

Hot weather places Greece in red alert

Greek authorities have announced a series of measures to prevent the effects of a heat wave expected to hit the country the coming weekend, when the temperatures are predicted to be over 43 degrees Celsius, according to various international media.

The international press quotes the Greek Health Ministry in stating that the hospitals will be on high alert in the ‘Perseu’ plan, which regards the management of the high temperature effects in the country. Given this, hospitals will have to report the exact number of people who reach the hospital because of high temperatures.

Likewise, hospitals give away brochures with advice against the effects of the unbearable heat. Plus, the Ministry adviced that people with health problems should not leave their houses and warned the population to save electricity.

Because of the extreme use of AC’s, electricity consumption level reached the highest level since the beginning of the year in Greece two days ago. The electricity company warned against possible electricity drop outs.

On the other hand, the Labor Ministry urged employees to stop work if the temperature is above 38 degrees Celsius, as their salaries will not decrease.

Meteorologists warn that today, temperatures will be over 39 degrees Celsius and will reach 43 degrees in central Greece by the end of the week., Jun 21, 2007

Good absorption of Phare funds for Romania

Romania ranks 2, following Slovakia, in a classification regarding the countries applying for Phare funds. This is the main argument which proves that Romania deals with a good absorption of the European funds, the director of the Authority for Structural Instruments belonging to the Ministry of Finances and Economy, Razvan Cotovelea, says. Additionally, 94-96% of the payments have been carried out.

The information refers to the programmes concluded or under way at this moment and was provided by a study of the European Commission. Until November, contracts can be signed for Phare 2005.

However, a problem still needs to be tackled as far as the infrastructure projects are concerned. There are delays in the implementation of these projects because of the properties' register.

The Sectorial Programmes are to be endorsed in July-August, and the solicitor’s guide will be issued in the coming three weeks following the endorsement, most probably it will be delivered by the beginning of September, according to Cotovelea.,, Jun 21, 2007

Working with neighbors for getting European funds

Romania can qualify for structural funds as part of some projects conducted in collaboration with the neighboring states. Romania, together with the bordering countries, may benefit of eleven programmes amounting 1.5 billion euros for 2007-2013. The amount to be allocated to Romania is 800 million euros.

The programmes aim geographical areas, such as the border counties, or particular fields of action. The Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing is the national authority that manages these programmes.

Matt Nichols, expert with INTERACT(a programme that informs about the inter-state cooperation), explains the differences between the operational sectorial programmes and the cooperation projects. The main difference addresses the activities involved.

While the sectorial programmes deal with big infrastructure projects, the cooperation projects aim at erasing the social and economical barriers that come with the borders, according to Nichols.

More info on the cooperation projects: trans-border cooperation within EU and trans-border cooperation within EU.,, Jun 21, 2007

Aging population threatens economy growth

Most countries in the Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, including Romania, will have the oldest populace worldwide before 2025. In case the pension reforms and the health insurance system are not properly handled, the situation will jeopardize the recent success in economic development, the World Bank report "From red to grey: The third transition" reads.

The report shows that, although the aging is a general phenomenon, 28 countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics confront combined issues, such as a poor populace and incomplete transition processes that left them with immature markets.

The population in the region is expected to decrease 24 million in the following 20 years.

“None of the aging countries worldwide is as poor as Georgia, where the average GNP is under 1,000 dollars per year. One fifth of the populace will disappear during the following 20 years", the report warns.

Before 2025, Russian population will decrease 17 million, while the average age in Slovenia will be 47, one of the highest in the world.

The authors warn that the main problem is that aging population will mean more pressure on public expenses, mainly for pensions and long-term treatments., Jun 20, 2007

Constitutional Court: 1989 Revolution and 1990 miners' mayhem move to civil courts

The judges in the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) decided on Wednesday as anti-Constitutional a paragraph in the Criminal Procedure Code according to which trials that begun in a military court must continue and end also in military courts.

Several NGOs issued a protest at the beginning of the week, claiming that the law makes the investigations and trials start all over again.

After the article of the law was declared as anti-Constitutional, the trials may soon move to civil courts.

Important political, Army and Police figures are involved in the files, including former president Ion Iliescu., Jun 20, 2007

Presidential counselor resigns in influence scandal

Presidential counselor Silviu Barbu demanded on Tuesday to be released from his position, after the local media in Brasov presented the transcript of a discussion in which Barbu demanded the Transylvania Law School Dean to intervene in favor of his brother-in-law.

Presidency spokesman Valeriu Turcan declared for NewsIn that Barbu resigns in order to prevent the institution from being affected by the scandal.

According to the journalists in Brasov, the recorded phone registration shows Barbu trying to "make sure" that his brother-in-law passes one of the exams.

After the resignation, Barbu returns to work in the Brasov Court., Jun 20, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Six criteria for refundable expenses

There are six criteria to be fulfilled in order to get reimbursement of the expenses of the projects within the Operational Programmes. They will be included in a law that will regulate the general principles of spending the European structural funds.

The six conditions that already apply are:

A payment may be reimbursed if it was undertaken between January 1 2007 and December 31, 2015.
Financial documents and invoices that prove the expenses are mandatory.
The payment can be audited and identified.
It conforms to the provisions of the financial contract.
It obeys the Romanian and the European legislations.
The beneficiary of the reimbursement has not benefited of European financing assistance.

This information has been provided by the Authority for the Coordination of the Structural Instruments at the event “Project Management Vision” organized by the All Consulting&Training and CEFE Training Romania on June, 20-21.

The reimbursements will be operated directly, to the beneficiary’s bank account, or via an account belonging to a local structure of the Management Authority that will pay the money to the beneficiary.,, Jun 20, 2007

Mohamed Munaf appeals against execution

The guide and translator of the three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq, Mohamed Munaf, appealed to the US Supreme Court in his attempt to escape the death sentence. Munaf is currently detained by the US army in Iraq, were a local court sentenced him to death for involvement in the kidnapping.

53-year old Munaf, Romanian and US citizen of Iraqi origin, was arrested immediately after the three journalists were released. Judged and sentenced to death, he will be executed as soon as he's released to the Iraqi authorities.

Munaf appealed to the US Justice claiming he didn't have a fair trial.

In April, the Federal Appeal Court in Washington considered it has no authority in his case, since he's detained by an international force and sentenced by a sovereign state.

The Supreme Court will announce in autumn whether it will involve or not in the case., Jun 20, 2007

Hornbach invests 200 million euros to open 10 stores in Romania

The Hornbach group, owner of the construction materials and gardening tools stores chain, will invest 200 million euros in Romania before 2015, in order to open at least 10 hypermarkets in the major cities, company officials declared, according to NewsIn.

The first Hornbach store will open on June 20, 2007, and will cover 24,000 square meters in Bucharest. The space includes 9,000 square meters for construction materials, 5,000 for gardening tools and 10,000 square meters for as drive-in, allowing customers to bring their cars near the shelves, for easier loading.

Hornbach invested over 25 million euros in its first store. The second store in Bucharest will open most probably within an year., Jun 20, 2007

Romania must liberalize postal services before 2012

The state monopoly in postal services in the European Union states should end before 2010, two years later than the 2010 deadline suggested by the European Commission.
Romania and Bulgaria will have to liberalize the market before 2012, an European Parliament press release informs.

The total opening of the market means that the national operators will no longer have exclusive rights for "reserved areas", meaning for the packages under 50 grams. The law draft will be voted by the European Parliament in July.

Deputies consider that the law should be applied under certain terms, including the "universal service" - meaning the complete coverage of the territory for an accessible price.

The mail must be collected at least once a day, five days a week., Jun 20, 2007

EC demands car tax changes

The European Commission formulated its official position on the car first registration tax imposed in Romania. The Finance Ministry was informed on the EC position and is expected to make official statements soon.

Contacted by, the Taxes and Duties Commissioner's spokesman, Laszlo Kovacs, refused to confirms the information released by Romanian officials.

"Authorities in Bucharest will shortly come into possession of the EC response, which includes supplementary notes for the calculus formula. The negotiations between Romania and the European Commission will continue", said sources quoted by NewsIn.

The new calculus formula should come into force on January 1, 2008, or in six months after publishing, said the Economy Minister, Varujan Vosganian., Jun 20, 2007

What the newspapers say: June 20, 2007

Former president Ion Iliescu risks to spend the rest of his life behind bars in case the latest allegations against him prove to be real. Charged in a file on the events on June 13-15, 1990, when the coal miners were called to Bucharest in order to repress an anti-Communist demonstration, Iliescu finds himself about to be accused of instigation to manslaughter and mayhem.

According to the Romanian laws, the instigator must receive the same penalty as the author, in this case 15 to 25 years in jail. The latest accusations against Ion Iliescu, brought up by military prosecutors, refer to the events on June 13, 1990, when 4 people were killed after the Police used their fire weapons against the demonstrants, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

"Iliescu demanded war ammunition and bayonets" is the title in Romania Libera, where "intelligence synthesis, activity logs, official phone conversations and other military documents" are invoked to support the accusations against Iliescu.

Beside the news on Iliescu, things are mostly the same for a country where it's already too hot to breathe.

The intellectual elites will collaborate in writing a new, modern and European Constitution, according to a public announcement made on Tuesday by Gabriel Liiceanu, president of the Social Dialogue Group (GDS). The project will compete against several politician-made drafts, Evenimentul Zilei and other newspapers read.

The European Union is worried with the slow Justice reforms in Romania, German daily "Handelsblatt" informed on its online edition, according to Evenimentul Zilei.
The deputy chief of the EU delegation to Romania, Onno Simmons, recently declared in a conference that "after former Justice Minister Monica Macovei was laid off, the things went wrong in the anti-corruption campaign".
The German journalists are extremely skeptical when it comes to the new Justice Minister, Tudor Chiuariu, "who diminishes the anti-corruption campaign capabilities of his ministry, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

The reply comes instantly in Gandul: "The EU states do nothing to fight corruption in the private affairs", the newspaper reads, quoting a recent statement made by Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner for Justice.

The European Commission denounced the lack of legal tools that may be used in fighting corruption in the private area, so that the anti-corruption campaign would be complete., Jun 20, 2007

Meteorologists issue heat warning for 22 Romanian counties

The National Meteorology Administration issued a yellow code warning indicated prolonged heat and heat discomfort for 22 counties across Romania on Tuesday.

It warned that a heat wave would affect the Romanian provinces of Crisana and Banat in western Romania, Oltenia and Muntenia in the south, as well as the southern part of Moldova (east) and locally in Dobrogea (south east) between Thursday June 21 and Sunday June 24.

Temperatures in the regions are expected to rise as high as 38 degrees Celsius during the period.

The temperature-humidity index will stay somewhere around the critical threshold of 80 in most of Romania, northern parts excepted.

And heat discomfort will settle throughout the week as night time temperatures are not expected to go below 20 degrees Celsius.
The heat wave may persist during the first part of next week as well, the warning says., Jun 19, 2007

Vodafone launches own wired telephony service in Romania

Mobile phone operator Vodafone announced on Tuesday the launch of its own wired telephony services for residential consumers in Romania. The “Vodafone Acasa” offer contains four types of subscriptions with tariffs varying between 4 and 10 US dollars/month, VAT not included, a company press release says.

The service will be initially available on Sagem MyH10 phones but Vodafone officials say other terminals will be gradually added to the portfolio.

The company thus enters a market sector once fully controlled by Romtelecom, the former state-owned telephony operator now controlled by OTE. The sector has been gradually luring other telecom companies for several years. Vodafone and Orange were seen by Romtelecom as key challengers to the company’s domination of the wired telephony market.

“Vodafone Acasa” clients will have free access to services such as cost control, client relations, waiting calls, conferences and SMS.

The service numbers will start with 0372 - followed by six figures., Jun 19, 2007

Romanian Liberals, two other parties form center-right pole

Romania’s governing National Liberal Party (PNL) and two other non-parliamentary political groups, the Christian-Democratic National Peasants Party (PNTCD) and the Popular Alliance (AP) formed a new alliance on Tuesday which they heralded as the country’s center-right political pole.

The deal was signed by PNL president and prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, PNTCD leader Petre Marian Milut and AP leader Emil Constantinescu, a former President of Romania who fell in the background of local politics for years.

Tariceanu presented the deal as “a moment that would have been necessary when Romania concluded its transition from communism to capitalism”.

The goals of the new alliance are to promote the social and economic integration of Romania and a stronger representation in the European Parliament., Jun 19, 2007

Romanian President Basescu ''reminds'' Russia about troops in Moldovan Republic

Romanian President Traian Basescu criticized the interpretation of international treaties such as the that of Conventional Forces in Europe during a speech held at a GUAM summit in Baku on Tuesday. He also mentioned the need that Russian troops be withdrawn from the Moldovan Republic and Georgia, a withdrawal that he said should have occurred in 1999.

Romania backed the CFE treaty, Basescu says, but argues that it must be related to Russia’s compliance with its promises at an Istanbul summit last decade, regarding the withdrawal of Russian troups from Moldova.

Russian authorities have been warning that they may reconsider Moscow’s involvement with the CFE treaty given the current United States plans for a missile shield in Europe.

Basescu said in Baku that an arms control system should be in place, based on transparency and predictability and unrelated to negotiations on other issues of regional and international security.

And he said Romania was deeply interested in solutions to the frozen conflicts of the Black Sea and Caucasus regions. The solutions are needed for the economic development and the strengthening of democracy in GUAM states, he said.

GUAM countries are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Moldovan Republic.

Also on Tuesday, Basescu said that the four GUAM countries may become an alternative for securing the energy independence of EU member states., Jun 19, 2007

Opposition Social Democrats submit simple motion on Agriculture

Deputies for the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD), submitted a simple motion on the troubles affecting Romanian agriculture on Tuesday, a day after the party announced to such motions - one on Agriculture (in the House) and one on the Romanian Health system (in the Senate).

For their part, Democratic Party deputies submitted two separate motions, on the same issues.

The Democrats’ motions will be debated in the Parliament on Monday June 25, House speaker Bogdan Olteanu announced today., Jun 19, 2007

US troops in high pub bill scandal in Constanta, Romania

Two US troops clashed with bodyguards because of the high bill they received at a pub in the Romanian seaside city of Constanta on Tuesday, according to TV news reports. The two US soldiers were outraged when they learned that they had to pay the equivalent of about 90 euro for two glasses of whiskey, two beers and two energy drinks.

The soldiers, based at the US military camp in Mihail Kogalniceanu near the Romanian Black Sea coast, refused to pay the bill, which prompted the owner of the bar to call the bodyguards. A fierce argument was followed by violence as the troops broke a glass wall of the restaurant.

US military police were forced to intervene and took the two soldiers with them. Local authorities said an investigation into the case was under way., Jun 19, 2007

Development minister Borbely confirmed as interim IT&C minister

Romanian President Traian Basescu has confirmed Development minister Laszlo Borbely as interim minister for Communications and Information Technology, a presidency press release informs. Borbely was supported for the job by PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu as the man who held the job so far, Zsolt Nagy, was suspended by the president earlier this month as he is the subject of an organized crime inquiry.

Nagy was suspended June 11 because High Court prosecutors have opened an investigation over the role he allegedly played in a scandal related to the privatization of Romania’s energy companies.

Both Nagy and Borbely are members of the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR), the main political group of ethnic Hungarians in Romania. The cases of Nagy and of other top UDMR politicians investigated for various abuses have sparked an outcry among UDMR and Hungarian government officials., Jun 19, 2007

Romanian Ambassador to Austria recalled home

Romanian President Traian Basescu signed on Tuesday a decree recalling Romanian Ambassador to Austria, Andrei Corbea-Hoisie, who has announced his resignation following a verdict by the main body studying the files of the communist-era Securitate, that he had collaborated with the ex-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s dreaded political police.

Corbea-Hoisie was named Ambassador to Vienna in summer 2005 after 20 years as an academic at the University of Iasi, eastern Romania. He is also known for his collaboration with various foreign universities such as Paris VIII, Ecole Normale Superieure Paris, Sorbonne and Friburg., Jun 19, 2007

Bucharest court rules against religious symbols in Romanian schools

A Bucharest court decided on Monday that a decision made by the main anti-discrimination body in Romania on removing religious symbols from schools was well grounded, thus giving green light to moves that would see such symbols gone from Romanian schools. The Education ministry announced it would challenge the decision at the High Court of Justice.

The whole dispute started in August last year when a teacher urged the head of the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) to establish that the presence of religious symbols in school as well as teaching a certain religion was an act of discrimination towards atheists or people of other denominations and was limiting the chances and equality and freedom of option against students.

The most active civic associations in Romania stood behind the teacher from Buzau county. CNCD thus opted to promote a recommendation in this regard, which was challenged in court by the Education Ministry.

In response to this initiative, the Patriarchy of the Romanian Orthodox Church launched a counter-offensive based on the argument that the Romanians were a Christian people and that the absence of religious symbols from public areas would discriminate the Orthodox majority in the country., Jun 19, 2007

New criminal proceedings launched against ex-President Ion Iliescu

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu faced new criminal proceedings on Monday related to an outbreak of violence against anti-communist protesters in Bucharest in 1990, Romanian NewsIn news agency reports.

The case accuses Ion Iliescu and the Interior minister of the time, Mihai Chitac, of involvement in the murder of four people who were shot before the Interior Ministry headquarters in Bucharest on June 13, 1990.

June 13 was the beginning of three days of violence that saw miners from across the country arrive in Bucharest to put a bloody end to protests taking place in the Romanian capital against the neo-communist leadership that took power in the 1989 revolution, led by Ion Iliescu.

Iliescu is blamed in a separate case of urging the miners come to Bucharest and supporting the spree of violence known in Romania as “the miners’ crusade”.

The case renewed on Monday was originally initiated and sent to court in 2000, but after three years the High Court of Justice sent it back for further criminal procedures.

Ex-President Iliescu - who now serves as honorary president of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD) - explained his appeal for miners to come to Bucharest in June 1990 several days ago by saying that police forces were incapable to control the situation sparked by the anti-communist protests., Jun 19, 2007

Romania expects a week of extremely warm weather

Romanian meteorologists have warned that extremely temperatures for the period, as felt through the weekend, would remain at record levels for the whole week. Temperatures are expected to stay above 35 degrees Celsius oin Tuesday and rise to 37 degrees Celsius in southern Romania on Thursday and Friday, the main meteorological body in the country, INMH, has announced.

The temperatures are 8-10 degrees Celsius higher than the normal average for the period.

Extreme temperatures are also affecting Bulgaria where Sofia Echo quoted the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences last weekend as saying that temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius are expected for this week.

But reported that the water temperatures on the Bulgarian seaside would not exceed 20 degrees Celsius until late this month., Jun 18, 2007

Ex-Interior minister faces hearings in 1990 miner violence case

A former Interior minister who played a key role in an outbreak of violence against anti-communist protests in Bucharest 17 years ago faces hearings in the case related to what is generally known in Romania as the June 1990 “miners’ crusade” to the Romanian capital.

General (r.) Mihai Chitac is investigated for undermining state authority and crimes against humanity along 20 other people for their role in the wave of violence that spread to Bucharest on June 13-15 1990, when miners put a bloody end to a lasting, peaceful protest by thousands of Romanians against the ex-Communist rulers that got to power in the December 1989 revolution.

During hearings today, Chitac re-affirmed what he said at the first of his hearings in the case two years ago that the ones to blame for the 1990 “miners’ crusade” are the President of the time, Ion Iliescu, and the-then prime minister, Petre Roman.

Chitac is investigated on charges compiled after a former head of the Romanian Police said the violence that took place in the University Square in downtown Bucharest on June 13-15 1990 was ordered by Chitac, who served as Interior minister at the Time.

Chitac was replaced in office during the “crusade”, on June 14.

Ion Iliescu, a former communist apparatchik who now serves as honorary president of the main opposition party, is also facing an inquiry for his role in the “miners’ crusade”, when he was accused of calling miners to come to Bucharest to put an end to the anti-communist protests., Jun 18, 2007

Bear campaign moves on: two cubs freed in Romanian resort

Martin and Cenusareasa (Romanian for Cindarella), two bear cubs held captive near a restaurant in the Romanian mountain resort of Straja, were freed last weekend and sent to the Libearty reservation in the nearby town of Zarnesti.

The move was part of a campaign organized by the “Millions of Friends” Association with support from, the National Geographic Romania and the Radio 21 station.

A representative for the Libearty bear reservation says that a third cub is still held captive but would soon be released as well.

The Libearty-Millions of Friends Association, and other partners have launched a campaign to free bears held captive abusively across Romania.

Democratic Party (PD) official Ioan Oltean announced last weekend that people who hold and treat animals abusively would be sanctioned with up to three years in prison as changes to the current law on the protection of animals expect parliamentary approval., Jun 18, 2007

Romanian President to attend GUAM summit

Romanian President Traian Basescu and two other CEE heads of states will attend a summit in Baku on Monday and Tuesday bringing together the leaders of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Moldovan Republic (GUAM) to discuss measures to limit the influence of Russia on the energy sector of the region.

Basescu will be accompanied there by Polish counterpart Leck Kaczynski and Lithuanian leader Valdas Adamkus, AFP reports.

The summit will mostly deal with Azeri oil deliveries through Georgia and the Black Sea to the Ukrainian Odessa-Brody pipeline. A joint force to deal with peacekeeping operations in the ex-USSR countries will also be formed, according to Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin is not expected to attend the reunion because it overlaps with a planned visit to Luxembourg and Brussels. Moldova will be represented in Baku by PM Vasile Tarlev., Jun 18, 2007

Social Democratic faction threatens with resignation

The leadership of an influential faction of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) in Cluj, Transylvania threatened to resign en-masse on Sunday but eventually stopped short from complying with the threat after a top PSD leader in Bucharest called for two top members of the party to be ousted.

The break-up was postponed until the central party leadership makes a decision regarding the call by Marian Vanghelie that Cluj-based member Vasile Dancu and young PSD representative Victor Ponta be dismissed, Dancu said later on Sunday.

The Cluj branch, seen as one of the most influential groupings within the PSD, also complained that party president Mircea Geoana failed to produce a reaction to Vanghelie’s call, which they call scandalous.

A possible final decision to resign en-masse - which would include Cluj branch leader Ioan Rus - is expected to be discussed at a national PSD meeting on Monday and might be made once a reunion of leaders of PSD local branches takes place later this month.

Vanghelie has called for the resignation of Ponta and Dancu because of public stands taken by the two repeatedly against the official line of the party., Jun 18, 2007

Liberal elected mayor of Moldovan capital Chisinau

A candidate for the Liberal Party defeated his communist rival in the fight for the city hall of Chisinau, the capital of the Moldovan Republic, in local elections on Sunday. Preliminary data show Liberal Dorin Chirtoaca defeated Communist Veaceslav Iordan in the second round of elections for the seat of Chisinau mayor.

Partial results announced by the local electoral council shows Chirtoaca received the support of 58.83% of Chisinau voters, compared to 41.17% for Iordan, Moldpres news agency reports. The total turnout at the Chisinau polls stood at 35.8%.

For the second round of elections, Chirtoaca received the backing of several non-communist parties, while Iordan was supported by the pro-Russia bloc Ravnopravie-Patria-Rodina.

Turnout stood below 50% in second round of local elections, held in about half of Moldovan town halls on Sunday. Preliminary data showed 41% of Moldovan people voted on Sunday - much below the 51% turnout recorded in the first round of the poll on the June 3., Jun 18, 2007

BOX: Romanian Lucian Bute defeated The Scorpion in 12 rounds

Romanian boxer Lucian Bute defeated Australian boxer of Cameroon origin Sakio Bika in a match that allowed Bute become a challenger for the world IBF title this weekend. Bute is thus entitled to challenge the IBF world champion Alejandro Berrio with a score against Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika of 118-109/118-109/116-111 at Centre Bell, Montreal.

It’s the 20th victory in 20 matches for Bute, 27, but it was also one of the most difficult. “The Scorpion” was more aggressive in the early rounds, but Bute came back in force, convincing the three referees that he’s worth the win.

“I’m glad I have defeated a well prepared rival. In autumn I will have the opportunity to fight for the world title and I want to bring it to Romania”, Bute said after the match.

In autumn, both Bute and Adrian Diaconu (“official challengers”) will fight for diamond belts, a good enough reason for Interbox to propose sponsors in Romania to organize a common gala here., Jun 18, 2007

A new blog campaign: Spam for trees!

"On every forum, on every public article or blog comment, write Greenspam! Use greenspam as username. Link the articles!" This is how a new ecological campaign, put up by three journalists, begins.

"Life and accordions", Blogurest and Balkan Express are just three of the blogs angry with the mayors, companies or individuals who declared war on trees in Bucharest. talked to the main "guilty parties" to see how it has all begun.

The first was Emil Neacsu, who took pictures of bulldozers digging near the trees' roots. The pictures were posted on

An accomplice tells how he felt suffocating during the evening in Bucharest, given the lack of oxygen sources.

Mihai Morar's "Life and accordions" reads that the blogo-sphere reacted naturally, faster than the media and the ecology-related NGOs, but the things will go nowhere without media support.

Mihai Morar claims that he has already lots of signals indicating that people begun to post "greenspams", still officials failed to answer any of his questions.

Mayors' e-mail addresses" (Dan Cezar Ionescu) (Directia Urbanism si Gestionarea Teritoriului) - Sebastian Stan, Directia Comunicare
(site-ul primariei sectorului 6 traieste inca inainte de 1995 - doar telefoane)

SPAM!, Jun 15, 2007

European funds for Romania, Bulgaria won't decrease

The funds the European Union offers Romania and Bulgaria within the post-accession strategy will not decrease, Reuters informs. The European Commission report on Justice will not sanction the two countries through diminishing the allocated funds.

Still, some penalties may be taken into account after an audit scheduled for the following months.

"The report about to be adopted by the European Commission will refer strictly to the Justice system, the problem of corruption and organized crime in Romania and Bulgaria. It will not refer to cutting the European funds", said the EC spokesman Mark Gray.

Gray added that there is a risk for these funds to decrease after the audit that will take place this year, verifying whether the two countries formed the required financial control institutions or not.

Jun 15, 2007

Romania to increase its presence in Afghanistan

Romania may send supplementary troops in Afghanistan, in addition to the 900 military already present there. The statement was made last night by the Romanian Foreign Minister, Adrian Cioroianu, during his visit to the US.
"We are ready to increase the number of Romanian military, mainly for a mission to instruct the Afghani troops", said Cioroianu, according to the AFP press agency.

"Any changes in the configuration of our troops will be based on negotiations with our allies", said Cioroianu, mentioning that the 500 military in Iraq will continue to be a controversial subject for a while.

"Romania, hosting the 2008 NATO summit, will continue to involve in fighting the terrorism, along with its allies", Cioroianu added.

UPDATE: Contacted by Hotnews, Foreign Ministry officials explained that the statement made by Cioroianu bears more nuances, referring to both the number of soldiers and the efforts for post-war reconstruction., Jun 15, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Top 100 Most Clicked On Products For July on

1 Intel Core Duo T2600, 2.16 GHz
2 ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe
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4 Antec Performance One P180
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7 Zalman Tech CNPS9500 LED
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20 Logitech Z-5500
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22 Elitegroup C19-A SLI (V1.0A)
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24 Motorola H5 MiniBlue Earset
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91 Cooler Master (R9-NBC-ADAS)
92 Apple iPod shuffle (512 MB, M9724LL/A)
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94 Logitech G5
95 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+, 2.2 GHz
96 Intel Pentium D 820, 2.8 GHz
97 OCZ Gold Gamer eXtreme DDR (OCZ4002048ELGEGXT-K)
98 Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
99 Abit AN8 32X
100 BYTECC ME-850

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Petrom opens petrochemical company

Petrom opened a petrochemical company, Petrochemicals Arges, which is scheduled to start functioning independently at the end of 2007, in order to separate the petrochemical processes from the refining procedures at Arpechim, a press release of the group informs.

„The measure aims at the Petrom modernization and follows the international trends in the field. Even more, the measure will allow the new born company to focus on the efficiency improvements and the development of this activity", said Jeffrey Rinker, member of the Petrom board.

Petrochemicals Arges will be owned by Petrom.

The main shareholder at Petrom is OMV (51.011% of the social capital of the company), the State Assets Agency (30.862%), The Property Fund (9.887%), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2.026%) and minority shareholders (6.214%)., Jun 15, 2007

What the newspapers say: June 15, 2007

Upside down Friday: nothing is what it seems. Freedom House still finds corruption on high levels in Romania, while the Hungarian government accuses Romania for prosecuting ministers.

After an incident a while ago, Foreign Minister Cioroianu manages to meet Condoleezza Rice. After an embarrassing dialogue formed exclusively with "Yes. Of course. Yes. Yes, Yes", Cioroianu announces that Romania may sent more troops to Afghanistan. Newspapers find out to late to write about it.

The fact that a Hungarian Minority Democratic Union (UDMR) minister is suspended, since he's under criminal investigation, gives the Hungarian Govt. reason to claim that the criminal files are "politically dictated".

Four other UDMR members are also under investigation, a lot less than the number of Liberals, Democrats and Social Democrats (including the former PM Adrian Nastase), but that doesn't seem to matter in the scandal about to burst.

After some hesitations, the Romanian Foreign Ministry managed to "softly" answer the accusations, appreciating that "such remarks are unusual in the diplomatic practice". The press release shows that "as in all democratic states, the juridical procedures in criminal matters can not be subject to public evaluation before their ending". (Evenimentul Zilei)
(For more on this subject see: Romanian President suspends Communication minister Zsolt Nagy)

Speaking of criminal files opened for corruption: the latest Freedom House report decides that corruption continues to be a problem in Romania. The general score for Romania improved from 4.25 to 4, while the Justice scored 3.75 (from 4), given the efforts to fight corruption, which "seem to be more efficient", Jurnalul National reads.

In fact, the Justice acts so well it has become a bit annoying for prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who complained to the EC head, Jose Manuel Barroso, that he has to find out from the media which of his ministers is formally indicted and for what, Cotidianul reads.

Still in the foreign affairs field: Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu is about to fall into disgrace after the meeting he had with the US State Secretary, Condoleezza Rice.
„Yes“, „yes, yes, that’s clear“, „of course“ and „thank you very much“ were the only words he said during the press conference before the meeting. "Cioroianu was excellent in approving whatever Rice said", Cotidianul comments.

The same newspaper published in its online version a piece of late night news that may cause serious discussions on Friday: "Romania may send more troops to Afghanistan", said Cioroianu, according to AFP.

Still, for some good news: the British demand more jobs for Romanians and Bulgarians, after two years of intense bad media (the "immigration waves" The Sun kept talking about) that caused panic among citizens.

During the first quarter of the year, only some 8,000 Romanians and Bulgarians demanded the right to work in the UK, and only 2,425 in agriculture. Now the crops are about to be lost, in case UK doesn't find soon some workers for the harvest, Evenimentul Zilei reads.
Agriculture associations now demand the Government to have a "more relaxed policy" on Romanian and Bulgarian workers.

As we said before: nothing is what it seems., Jun 15, 2007

Espionage suspect claims human rights violation

Stamen Stanchev, the suspect indicted along with two Romanian ministers in strategic privatizations confidential data trafficking, may address the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in case his situation doesn't reach some kind of closure soon, Stnchev' lawyer, Ovidiu Budusan, declared in a press conference.

The "secretly organized" (as sources say) press conference was attended to by Stanchev, Budusan, as well as the president of a new formed Bulgarian NGO, the "Justice - Bulgaria" Federation, which promised to defend the businessman from the "political charges" brought by Romanian prosecutors.

Stanchev's gesture comes soon after president Traian Basescu suspended the IT&C minister, Zsolt Nagy, also involved in the strategic privatizations file.

"My human rights are disturbed and affected", said Stanchev, claiming that he has been blocked in Romania for seven months "for nothing" and that he's "a dead man" since he can not be near his family and can't do any business, given the fact that in Romania "the phones are tapped".

The Bulgarian Consul in Bucharest, Todor Marinov, participating in the conference as observatory, says that the Bulgarian authorities haven't noted any ill treatment in the way Romanian Justice handled Stanchev., Jun 14, 2007

Hungarian Foreign Ministry worried with investigations on UDMR members

The Foreign Minister in Budapest, Kinga Goncz, is worried with the criminal investigations opened against some of the members of the Hungarian Minority's Democratic Union (UDMR), including the Telecomm Minister, Nagy Zsolt, BBC informs.
According to the same source, the position of the Hungarian diplomat was bought to the attention of the Romanian ambassador in Budapest, Irene Comaronschi.

Kinga Goncz said that the political involvement of the Hungarian Minority on a national level should not be jeopardized by tactical actions on a short term.

On June 11, president Traian Basescu suspended IT&C Minister Zsolt Nagy, for being under criminal investigation "for supporting an organized international criminal group".

Zsolt Nagy is under criminal pursuit in a file regarding strategic privatizations, accused of offering confidential data for the espionage network led by Bulgarian Stamen Stanchev.

Vice prime minister Marko Bela is also under investigation for money received for his future books., Jun 14, 2007

After EU Accession: Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Romania

Since Romania’s accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are attained based on whether they have been rendered in the EU or outside the EU.

The former such judgments fall under the directly applicable relevant EU regulations: Regulation no 44/2001 on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (herein bellow referred to as “Regulation 44”) and Regulation no.

805/2004 creating an European enforcement order for uncontested claims (herein bellow referred to as “Regulation 805”). And the latter fall under Law no.

105/1992 regarding Private International Law (herein bellow referred to as “Law 105”). The herein article purports to create an overview of the changes brought by the newly applicable EU legislation with regard to the system previously enforced upon all foreign judgments by Law 105.

The regulations implement a simpler procedure for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments within the EU, eliminating the obstacles arising from having to contend with different legal systems at the EU level.

Indeed, the free movement of judgments is already considered “the fifth freedom” within the EU, alongside the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, and is essential to the development of the European Communities’ internal market.

All of the relevant legislation, at the national and the EU level make the proper distinction between the recognition of a judgment that is considered final and binding by Romanian courts, and its enforcement, i.e., the ability to actually implement it under Romanian jurisdiction along with the writ upon which such enforcement can take place.

Legislation applicable to EU judgments
Because of the unfortunate consequences to the economic stability of the EU that would be caused by an inability to enforce a judgment rendered in one Member State in another Member State, the EU created a common system regarding the recognition and enforcement of such judgments. It is known as Regulation 44 and it is directly applicable in all EU Member States, except for Denmark.

What’s Covered
Due to the fact that civil and commercial relations represent the core of a highly functional market, Regulation 44 covers judgments rendered in civil and commercial matters, except for matters relating to the status or legal capacity of natural persons; property rights arising out of a matrimonial relationship; wills and succession; bankruptcy; proceedings relating to the winding-up of

insolvent companies or other legal persons; judicial arrangements, compositions and analogous proceedings; social security; and arbitration.

The Regulation applies to any judgment rendered by a court or a tribunal in civil or commercial matters which may include a decree, order, decision or writ of execution, as well as the determination of costs or expenses by an officer of the court, and also applies to authentic acts and settlements, which must be enforceable according to the laws applicable in the Member State where they have been rendered.

The Romanian court that has jurisdiction to either recognize or enforce a foreign judgment is any municipal court that is competent within the site of the domicile of the person against whom enforcement is sought or within the place of enforcement. Also, the application regarding the enforcement of an authentic act may be submitted to notaries, as competent authorities.
According to Romanian law, the issue of recognition may be sought by way of a separate claim, as well as raised as an incidental question within another trial, and the court competent to solve the principal claim will have jurisdiction over that particular question.

The person seeking the recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment must submit a copy of it to the Romanian competent court or authority, together with a certificate, which must be completed by the competent court or authority that has issued the judgment, authentic act or settlement.

In order to provide a unitary procedure in all EU Member States, the Regulation settles in its annexes the model for such certificate. However, the Romanian courts have the power to decide on more flexible rules regarding the provision of such certificate, and to either postpone the date of its submission, or to not require it at all, as the case may be.

They also have the power to decide on whether or not to request legalized translations for such documents.

The Romanian competent courts or authorities have the power to decline an application for recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment, but only for specific reasons set forth in the Regulation, such as: if the recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy in Romania; if there are procedural faults regarding the position of the defendant within the trial pursued in the Member

State where the judgment has been rendered; and if the judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in another Member State or in a third state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, provided that the earlier judgment fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in Romania.

As far as authentic acts are concerned, a refusal of enforcement may be granted only if the execution of that specific act is manifestly contrary to public policy.

If the formal conditions for enforcement are fulfilled, the Romanian court must enforce the judgment, with no need for further verification and, in any case, under no circumstances may a foreign judgment be reviewed as to its substance.

According to Regulation 44, a judgment may be partially enforced if it is not fully enforceable in all the matters covered by it, and also at the applicant’s request to do so.

Judgments on enforceability may be appealed to the appropriate Romanian appellate courts by any interested party, and the details regarding terms, further measures on appeal or on communication procedures are governed by the provisions of Regulation 44.

No guarantee is required from the applicant solely based upon the fact that such person is a foreign citizen or has his domicile or headquarters abroad. Also, there are no fees or taxes charged based upon the amount of the judgment.

Regulation 805 represents one of the great innovations of recent years, as it ensures the free movement of judgments, court settlements and authentic instruments in civil and commercial matters, throughout all Member States, with no need to use the exequatur procedure.

In order to enforce a judgment under Regulation 805, no declaration of enforceability is required; on the contrary, the Romanian competent courts or authorities are legally bound by the enforcement order rendered in any EU Member State - referred to as the European Enforcement Order - according to the model set forth in the annexes to the Regulation 805 and in the language in which

the judgment has been rendered. In the same manner, the simplified procedure of enforcement certainly avoids delays and unnecessary costs, especially because the Romanian competent courts or authorities do not have any power of approval over such situations of refusal of the declaration of enforceability, such as control over public policy.

The object of Regulation 805 is represented by the “uncontested claims”, i.e., requests for payment of a specific sum of money that has fallen due or for which the due date is indicated in the judgment, court settlement or authentic instrument.
One should not be misled, though, by this simplified procedure and consider that the EU disregards the fundamental rights ensured by the Chart of Fundamental Rights in the EU, like the right of access to an impartial tribunal, as the creditor always has the option to choose between the two types of proceedings, either the simplified one set forth in Regulation 805 or the one incorporated into

Regulation 44. The enforcement of the foreign judgment will be performed according to Romanian law as if it was for the enforcement of a judgment rendered under the Romanian jurisdiction.

Similar to Regulation 44, Regulation 805 also emphasizes the interdiction imposed on the Romanian competent courts or authorities to review the foreign judgment, for which enforcement is sought, as to its substance.

Legislation applicable to non-EU judgments
As previously noted, Law 105 applies to the recognition and enforcement of judgments in Romania rendered in non-EU countries.

This is possible only under certain conditions, which include the following: the judgment must be final and enforceable in the country in which it has been rendered; it must have been issued by a court that had the jurisdictional competence to do so; there must be reciprocity regarding recognition and enforcement between Romania and the country where the judgment has been rendered; the judgment

must not have been obtained fraudulently; it must not violate the principles of public order applicable in accordance with Romanian law; a Romanian court has not rendered a decision in the matter prior to the date of the foreign judgment; and, the three-year term regarding enforcement has been upheld, unless otherwise provided.

Law 105 is applicable only if the international conventions to which Romania is party do not provide otherwise. Finally, Law 105 provides that under no circumstances may Romanian courts or competent authorities review a foreign judgment as to its substance.
For a more detailed look into the provisions of Law 105 please see in The Romanian Digest Archive ( ), articles “Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards” from May 2005 and “Enforcement of Foreign Money Judgments in Romania” from March 2004.

The simplified and uniform procedure set forth in Regulation 44 or, even better, the almost costless procedure set forth in Regulation 805 demonstrate the resolve of the EU to develop internal mechanisms within the community market that are accessible to all EU citizens and residents and efficient for the achievement of the goals established by the EU constitutive treaties.

As noted, the procedure set forth by Regulation 805 avoids or even eliminates the arbitrariness brought by courts or authorities in appreciating if a judgment may be enforced or not under the jurisdiction of a Member State, as provided by Regulation 44. That means that the courts and competent authorities are truly “serving” the needs of EU member State citizens.

Therefore, someone seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Romania will make use of the provisions of Law 105 only for non-EU judgments and of the provisions of one of the two regulations - 44 or 805 - as the case may be, for EU-judgments, benefiting from the simplified procedures introduced by them.

The article was published based upon approval of:
Rubin Meyer Doru & Trandafir

The Romanian Digest, Jun 14, 2007

What the newspapers say: June 14, 2007

It looks like the warm weather had the final word in Romanian politics. After months of quarrels, politicians act as if there's nothing left to do than wait for the summer holiday. Only the Social Democrat Opposition has some unfinished business and prepares to expel two top members.

The main headlines on Thursday mainly refer to the miners' invasion of Bucharest in 1990, when over 1,100 people were arrested and beaten by the Police and "popular forces", in order to break the anti-Communist demonstration in the University Plaza.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu declared for the Antena 3 TV station that he discussed with the European Commission head, Jose Manuel Barroso, whom he assured that he respects the independence of state institutions.

PM Tariceanu claims that Barroso agreed that the Justice may be independent but shouldn't avoid all contacts with other state institutions, according to Evenimentul Zilei

Also in the European Commission, the Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini warned that the anonymous sources quoted in the Dick Marty report can't be considered as credible sources.
The Marty report points at Romania and Poland as hosts of the secret CIA prisons used to torture witnesses and suspects. President George W. Bush admitted such facilities existed, but refused to unveil any clear location, Jurnalul National reads.

Back to Romania, the main Opposition party, Social Democrats (PSD) face a scandal within the party. The Bucharest branch unanimously decided to suggest the expelling of Victor Ponta, head of the PSD youth branch, and Vasile Dincu, one of the party leaders, for "expressing points of view, others than the official party position", Cotidianul informs.
"Instead of putting up polls that would make PSD look good, Dincu became a spokesman for the Democrats", one of the Bucharest branch leaders declared for the newspaper.

In such a delicate interior situation, PSD also faces a serious loss of popularity, reaching an all-time minimum of 12% of the electors.
Under the circumstances, a group of supporters tries to bring back former PM Nastase as head of the party, despite the fact that Nastase is subject in two criminal files at the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office (DNA), Evenimentul Zilei reads.

Another PSD leader, Dan Ioan Popescu, extremely influential in the economic environment during the past 17 years, was proved to be a former manager of Ceausescu's foreign trade companies.
After buying for less that nothing a company he managed before 1989, he became Economy Minister and fueled his own company with 320 million dollars worth of contracts, same Evenimentul Zilei unveils.

To end in an even less optimistic tone: Romania proves to be a critical point on the human trafficking map, according to the annual report of the US Department of State.
According to the report, Romania either provides or hosts for transit victims of human trafficking from Moldova, Ukraine and Russia towards Italy, Spain, Germany and other countries, Romania Libera found out., Jun 14, 2007

"Visas for the US won't disappear over night"

In an interview on Wednesday, Romanian foreign Minister declared that, although Romanians are eager to be able to enter the US without any visa, a clear date for the event can't be specified yet.

Adrian Cioroianu is conducting a visit to the US, meeting major politicians and the lobby company that represent the Romanian point of view near the Congress.

The US officials met this far ensured Cioroianu that the visa waiver program is one of the most important problems on the Washington agenda, and that Romania has the necessary support in this "difficult process".

Senator Richard Lugar, co-president of the Senates' Foreign Relations Committee, said that he hopes for a major move in the program sometime during the following months.

Congressman Robert Wexler, one of the firmest supporters of the project, says that the visa elimination program must refer to all EU countries, including new coming Romania.

The politician said that immigration is not a major issue and that the visa elimination would be an important sign of friendship shown to Romania by the US for the excellent cooperation in Afghanistan and other theaters on the globe.

Still, Wexler avoided speaking about a clear date, once again demanding president Bush to put pressure on the Congress, so that procedures would go faster.

Cioroianu says that the existing good relationship and, the low immigration risk and the fruitful cooperation until now matter a lot in the future decisions, but that there is a balance in the high visa denial rate at the US embassy in Bucharest., Jun 13, 2007

The Stern Report: "Global warming will cost 5 to 20% of the Gross Global Product

The Stern report, one of the most complex analysis on global warming and its impact on economy, was presented on Wednesday in Bucharest by one of its authors. Dimitri Zengelis, economy counselor of the UK government, introduced some of the data in the report coordinated by Nicholas Stern, one of the main themes being the impact of global warming on the global economy.

Zengelis warned that any attempt to present accurate data about the global warming must cause suspicions, since maximum accuracy is impossible in this field.

At the same time, Zengelis warned, the voices claiming that the global warming is a natural phenomenon must be listened to with the same suspicion.

The Stern report indicates that the current rate of polluting gas growth will cause problems to both the nature and the economy.

The most important aspects are to be seen in agriculture, Zengelis showed. The climate changes will affect the quality of life everywhere in the world, the food production will decrease and the general health will suffer.

The report shows that, unless firm and fast actions aren't taken soon, the global warming will cost some 5% of the annual gross global product. Meanwhile, acting against pollution would only cost 1% per year.

According to the report, the countries most affected by the global warming will be the poor countries. The cost of global warming is already being felt in the US, where the most severe draught since 1930 is already installed.

Jun 13, 2007

First terrorism conviction in Romania: 20 years

The Bucharest Appeal Court decided on Wednesday to sentence Omar Hayssam, the Syrian - Romanian citizen involved in the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq, to 20 years in jail. Hayssam also has to pay compensations worth 2 million euros for each journalist.

In an intervention on the Realitatea TV station, Hayssam firmly declared: "I won't return to Romania. I won't become a scapegoat for the Romanian Justice system. If the journalists would talk to me, they would see that I am innocent! And I am not responsible for the beheading of the Secret Services", claimed Hayssam.

"I left Romania fine and well. I was permanently monitored by the secret services", added Hayssam.

In spring 2006, the Court decided to release Hayssam from arrest, due to medical reason and judge him at large, but Hayssam immediately fled the country.

As repercussions, president Traian Basescu immediately replaced al the heads of Secret Services.

Omar Hayssam was judged for financing a terrorist group in Iraq. Hayssam was supposed to intervene in the negotiations for the release of the three journalists and thus attract the sympathy of Romanian authorities.

During the past 10 years, several newspapers sustained prolonged campaign unveiling financial engineering and embezzlements put up by Hayssam in Romania., Jun 13, 2007

Economy minister Vosganian: ''Car tax to be included in Fiscal Code in January 2008''

A reviewed calculus for Romania’s controversial first registration car tax will be included in the fiscal code on January 1, 2008 or six months since its publication in the Official Gazette, Romanian Economy minister Varujan Vosganian said on Tuesday, quoted by the NewsIn news agency.

Vosganian’s statement comes as the Romanian Government has yet to receive a favorable answer from the European Commission over its new formula to compute the tax.

The first registration car tax was introduced this year, sparking complaints from the European Commission as it was seen as a means to prevent free competition on old and new car sales.

Should the Commission provide a favorable answer to the new formula for the tax calculus, the tax is due to be approved in Parliament before it comes into force.

The principles for the new formula were submitted by the Economy Ministry to the European Commission in May this year., Jun 12, 2007

Petromservice may become PSV Company

The Petromservice company may change its name to PSV Company, Romanian NewsIn news agency informs. The decision was based on a deal signed with Romanian oil group Petrom in 2005 trying to prevent any affiliation between the two companies.

A final decision in this regard should be taken before the end of the year as a preliminary deal between the main associates in the company was already signed in this regard in February 2007.

Petromservice is a company established in 2002 as a result of the externalization of several Petrom services.

NewsIn reports that shareholders decided at the February meeting that the management of the company be coordinated by five people - all members of the board. The five are former general manager Sorin Mihai, Ioan Bohalteanu, Gheorghe Supeala (the current general manager), US citizen Rino Graziano Raicovich and Bogdan-Radu Negrutzi., Jun 12, 2007

Saudi company selected for Electroputere privatization

The Authority for State Assets Recovery-AVAS in Bucharest has selected Saudi-based Al Arrab Contracting Company Ltd. For the takeover of 62.82% of Romanian company Electroputere Craiova,, an AVAS press release says. The next phase in the Electroputere privatization process, which is based on final offer negotiation, is the negotiation of contractual clauses.

According to AVAS, Al Arrab Contracting Company is experienced in railway construction, industrial machines production, construction works operations.

AVAS put on salw 62.82% of Electroputere on February 20 this year. Five companies showed interest in the privatization of the Craiova-based company:: A5 Invest Caransebes and Grup Feroviar Roman from Romania, Vienna International Holding from Austria, Al Arrab Contracting Company from Saudi Arabia and Peeker Atomic Energy System - US.

Once the documentation was analyzed three offers remained in competition: A5 Invest Caransebes, Grup Feroviar Roman and Al Arrab Contracting Company.

Electroputere Craiova, an engines and generators producer, was put on sale no less than six times so far. Established in 1949, it was split into seven separate companies in 1990 but they reunited to form the current holding SC Electroputere SA in 1994., Jun 12, 2007

Presidential aide named Ambassador to Paris

The foreign affairs commissions in the Romanian Parliament approved the candidacy of presidential advisor Teodor Baconschi to take over the seat as Ambassador to Paris on Tuesday.

A career diplomat and a former Ambassador to Vatican and Lisbon, Baconschi last served as state secretary within the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest before taking his new office at the Presidency following a major government reshuffle in spring.

He now serves as advisor to President Traian Basescu for relations with public authorities and the civil society.

Also considered for posts of ambassadors are Ion Valcu, Romania’s former ambassador to Chile now eyeing the Embassy to Argentina, Mihai Florovici for Montenegro and Ionel Nicu Sava for Switzerland.

Romania does not currently have ambassadors to key posts in London, Washington and Rome., Jun 12, 2007

Court suspends decision to halt Arpechim activity

A court in Pitesti, south Romania has accepted a request by Romanian oil company Petrom to suspend a decision that had the local Environment Protection Agency halt activities at Petrom’s Arpechim refinery for a period of up to six months, the NewsIn news agency reports. The refinery will continue its activities until a judicial decision is made on the essence of the company’s problems.

The Pitesti court decision can be challenged within five days. The head of the Pitesti-based environmental agency, Marius Stanca, told that his institution will appeal.

The Regional Agency for Environment Protection-Pitesti suspended the environment authorization for Arpechim in late May because Petrom failed to comply with a series of commitments to improve the installations at the plant.

The decision would automatically bring production activities at Arpechim to a halt for a period of six months. Should Arpechim fail to solve its environment protection issues within the period, the Agency could annul the environment authorization for good.

Arpechim covers half of fuel production at Petrom, Romania’s main oil operator owned by Austrian group OMV., Jun 12, 2007

Romanian Parliament rejects motion against Government

The Romanian Parliament rejected on Monday a motion tabled by the opposition Democrats against the governing Liberals as a majority of MPs opted not to vote today. Many parliamentarians of the opposition Social Democrats (PSD) and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) chose not to express their votes, and the motion was rejected.

The Democratic Party (PD)-supported motion was backed by the PD and their fellow Liberal Democrats (PLD) alone. The opposition Social Democrats (PSD) and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) said they would not vote, while the oppositi0on Conservative Party and the governing minority party the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) voted against the motion.

Prior to the vote today, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu held a speech before the Parliament saying that the vote on the motion pushed against his government would make a difference between democratic results and populism.

He said the only reason it has come to the current situation was “the power hunger of a character (President Basescu) who plans to subordinate all power in Romania.

And Tariceanu said there are still many fundamental reforms to be done that have led to the EU accession of Romania., Jun 11, 2007

Romanian President suspends Communication minister Zsolt Nagy

Romanian President Traian Basescu issued a presidential decree suspending IT&C minister Zsolt Nagy from office on Monday. A presidential press release says that the reason for Nagy’s suspension is a criminal inquiry currently under way on Nagy’s name. Prosecutors of the High Court of Justice suspect the minister of supporting a transnational organized crime group.

The inquiry was initiated on April 27 but then-interim President Nicolae Vacaroiu, who served as head of state while Basescu was suspended for allegedly breaching the Constitution, said Nagy should not be suspended.

Nagy was facing High Court prosecutors on Monday at noon on charges of support for a transnational organized crime group and treason by leaking classified information.

The Romanian media has been publishing revelations for months about the Hungarian Democrat (UDMR) minister’s alleged links to an economic espionage network led by Bulgarian citizen Stamen Stanchev. He allegedly leaked information that favored certain bidders for consulting services or the privatization of Romanian companies including Radiocomunicatii SA, the Romanian Mail and Romtelecom.

The case also sees former Economy minister Codrut Seres charged of serving the interests of Stanchev’s network in several cases from cheap energy contracts to various privatization activities., Jun 11, 2007

Black list of Romanian polluters over which the EU can bring Romania to court

Checks performed by the National Environment Guard (GNM) at the Romanian steel mill Ispat (Sidex) Galati brought to light a series of irregularities in March. Also at the time, environment authorities were starting to raise issues related to the processing of waste and inadequate installations more and more often.

Until two weeks ago, when Pitesti-based plant Arpechim was dealt a heavy blow as it was informed it would lose the environment authorizations and had to stop its activities. Arpechim is the first company from a “black list” of installations that are in breach with EU rules on how industrial plants have to cope with environment protection.

An Environment Ministry report signed early this year presents the list of Romanian companies where activities may come to a halt because they don’t comply with environmental rules. The list is led by Romania’s main oil group Petrom’s subsidiaries Arpechim and Petrobrazi, as well as Constanta-based Rompetrol Rafinare, part of the Rompetrol group.

But as officials are still incapable of updating their data, the situation these companies are facing is yet to be known.

Before EU accession, Romania had promised that by January 1, 2007 it would solve the issue of old installations that are in breach with EU environment regulations, but was allowed an extension of the deadline for existing installations until October 31, 2007.

If it fails to comply with the EU deadlines, the European Commission may appeal to infringement procedures that it can use to sanction states that do not comply with obligations undertaken prior to accession.

The Environment Ministry black list reviews industrial units that received a transitional period to apply the necessary measures for environment protection. If these fail to be accomplished, the Commission may initiate the infringement procedure as it happened in the case of the controversial first registration car tax pushed by the Romanian government this year.

The alternative for the infringement procedure is the closure of units that do not invest in environment protection as promised.

Over the past several years the European Commission opened infringement procedures against Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain. The first country to be brought before the European Court of Justice because of such irregularities was Austria in 2004., Jun 11, 2007

Enel takes over Electrica Muntenia Sud officially on Monday

The privatization contract by which Romanian utility company Electrica Muntenia Sud is bought by Italian group Enel will be signed on Monday.

Enel president Fulvio Conti had first come for the contract signing ceremony in Bucharest last week, but the Romanian Authority for State Assets Recovery-AVAS postponed the ceremony on Thursday as the governmental decision on the issue had not been published in the Official Gazette.

Enel will buy 50% of Electrica shares directly and is due to reach a portfolio of 67.5% as the company is expected to go through a capital increase.

Enel won the privatization bid for Electrica Muntenia Sud - the largest branch of Romanian utility group Electrica - in the summer of 2006. Enel offered 820 million euro for the 67.5% state.

The state-owned Electrica used to have eight branches, but four of them were already sold in 2004-2005. Enel bought Electrica Banat and Electrica Dobrogea, while Czech company CEZ bought Electrica Oltenia and E.ON acquired Electrica Moldova.

Several weeks ago, the Economy Ministry announced it planned to sell all energy distributors and energy complexes in Romania by the end of 2007., Jun 11, 2007

Bucharest gay parade marked by violence

A call by the Romanian Orthodox Church for people to pray in the street for the salvation of homosexuals’ souls could not prevent violence at the gay parade that took place on Saturday at the end of the GayFest 2007 festival in Bucharest last week.

A March of Diversity bringing together some 200 sexual minority people and civil rights supporters was booed and thrown at with eggs and rocks, prompting the massive gendarmerie presence to clash with anti-gay protesters.

The March of Diversity took place in downtown Bucharest between the Unirii Boulevard and the Libertatii Boulevard on Saturday. The 200 marchers were accompanied by almost three times as many police officers and gendarmes - about 700 according to various accounts.

The marchers were helding banners urging people to tolerate minorities. The event was organized by the ACCEPT association for the rights of sexual minorities.

But the quiet still colorful event almost came to a halt when several hundred youth tried to attack the march. The police intervened with tear gas grenades and was welcomed with bottles and rocks in two rounds of clashes that resulted in the arrests of dozens of people.

The march was preceded by another protest organized by the Romanian New Right movement seen as many as the continuator of Romanian fascism. It was also boycotted by anti-fascist protesters in a rare appearance that also resulted in several arrests on Saturday morning., Jun 11, 2007