Vol. 3 No.2  

Moldovan President takes up minority status issue

President Vladimir Voronin: battling for rights of minorities in Romania     President of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin is seeking greater self-definition for his own nationals resident in Romania.
     He said that now that Romania has joined the EU, Moldovans want the issue of ethnic identity to be expressed by  the will of citizens rather than ‘imposed from the top’.
     Moldovans, he argued, do not appear on the list of national minorities in Romania.
     “This is the prime impediment to the legitimisation of Moldovans and their culture in Romania,” he said.
     The President said he has also accepted a proposal to possibly facilitate issuing citizenship to the Republic of Moldova to Moldovans living in Romania.
     “This will be a very good way of attracting to the Republic of Moldova all the Moldovans from Romania who sincerely want to help the Moldovan State,” he said.

‘Exorcist’ priest sentenced to 14 years in jail

     Daniel Corogeanu, the priest accused of murder by torturing a novice nun on a cross in a so-called ‘exorcism ritual’ was last month convicted to 14 years in prison by the Vaslui Court House.
     The superior nun of the Tanacu Monastery, where novice Irina Maria Cornici died, was also sentenced to eight years in prison. Three other nuns involved in the case were sentenced to four years in prison each.
     Irina Maria Cornici died in 2005 after she was tied to a cross and was subject to an exorcism ritual led by priest Corogeanu. The five had tried to chase the devil from the nun, who they thought was possessed by Satan.
     Instead, the 23-year-old nun was displaying symptoms of schizophrenia and, without access to food or water, she died after three days of torture and imprisonment.

Romanians are spiritual and fabulous, says Ministry

     Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) has prepared the concept of an image campaign to mark Romania’s EU entry.
     “We decided to sketch Romania’s image by focusing on the spiritual dimension of its people,” said MAE spokeswoman Corina Vintan.
     The slogan of the advertising campaign is ‘Romania – Fabulospirit’. Although this is not the branding of Romania campaign, the Ministry’s is attempting to position Romania as a country of spiritual people, who enjoy life and have lots to offer.
     “In the medium and long term we want the word ‘spirit’ to become [for Romania] what ‘conservative’ means for the British, and ‘engineer’ is for the Germans,” said Vintan.
     The Government is establishing the guidelines for the campaign and a pitch will follow to select an advertising agency to implement the idea.

Justice Minister stays put after court rules in her favour

     Romania’s Constitutional Court decided Minister of Justice Monica Macovei does not need to resign or be fired following a motion against her passed by the Senate.
     The second chamber passed a simple motion against the recent changes made to the justice system under the leadership of Macovei.
     This was backed by the opposition, made up of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Greater Romania Party (PRM), who asked for the Minister to be dismissed.
     To carry a majority the secret ballot needed backing from some members of the ruling ‘coalition’ of parties.
     This meant that many of the members defected against their own Minister.
     Representatives of the National Liberal Party then asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter, because Romania’s Constitution has no special provision regarding a simple motion passed by any chamber of the Parliament.

First steps towards new form of representative democracy made

     Leaders of the ruling coalition, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Party (PD) will support the proposed referendum for the uni-nominal vote. This could be the first step to establishing Romania as a representative democracy where the electorate votes directly for a member of Parliament.
     PNL vice president Teodor Melescanu said his party supports the idea of a uni-nominal vote, but “we do not see the utility of a referendum on the matter, when we already have 14 draft projects to introduce this voting procedure.”
     PD president Emil Boc said that his party “is not against the introduction of the uni-nominal vote, but a national referendum would be needed to decisively and finally lead the political class to start acting instead of just talking.”

No secret phone bugging of ministers says domestic intelligence head

     Romania’s Intelligence Service (SRI) denied intercepting ministers’ phone calls in the recent investigations by general prosecutors into privatisations in the energy field.
     But the SRI said that, for over two years, it has monitored the energy market, according to its head George Maior. At a hearing in the Parliamentary Commission for the control of SRI, Maior said his institution approached the “whole aspects of the energy market from the point of view of state national security” during 2005 and 2006, but no ministers’ phone calls were intercepted.
     He also added that the President and Prime Minister received constant information about the situation in the energy field, but it was up to them how they interpreted this information.

Short News

President: rural areas don’t know how to access EU funds

President Basescu has pointed to a crisis in knowledge of EU funds in the rural areas which could wreck the prospects of much-needed investment for Romania’s poorest communities. “In the rural environment no one knows how to access the EU funds, what kind of projects to develop, what are the procedures and how to apply them,” he said at a Romanian Academic Society (SAR) seminar. In his meetings with local mayors, the President said there has not been “one single” request for funding, except from mayors asking for cash from the state budget.

Liberal historian proposed as
Foreign Minister

Following the resignation of Mihai Razvan Ungureanu as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Tariceanu has put forward Adrian Cioroianu as his replacement. A National Liberal Party senator, his nomination is pending approval by the President. 40 year-old historian Cioroianu entered politics in 2002 and is now vice-president of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe in the European Parliament.

Basescu would face Becali
in snap election

Gigi Becali, owner of Steaua football club, has emerged as the most promising challenger to Traian Basescu, in a new poll by Civis. If presidential elections took place at the present time, about 35 per cent of Romanians would vote for Basescu. But he is followed by populist businessman-politician George (Gigi) Becali, with 18 per cent. Becali is also a real estate dealer and leader of the Orthodox Church-inspired New Generation Party (PNG), which has no seats in Parliament. Next in line are Mircea Geoana, leader of the opposition Social Democrats (PSD), with 14 per cent, Liberal PM Calin Popescu-Tariceanu with 11 per cent and far-right Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor with seven per cent.

Priests answer only to the church
Files of priests who were Securitate members will not be sent from the  secret service archives to the National Council for the Studying of the Securitate Files (CNSAS), but to the parish where these priests work. This amendment to the CNSAS ordinance, passed by the Senate, applies to priests and heads of religious cults officially recognised in Romania.

Ministries set to unify
Romania’s Government faces reassessment this month, which could see some ministries uniting. Options include the unification between the Ministry of Agriculture with Environment, the Ministry of Finance with that of Economy and Trade and Education with Culture. The executive may establish a new Ministry of Regional Development. At the moment there are 15 ministries in the Romanian Government.

Wealth watchdog put on ice
Due to the absence of National Liberal Party (PNL) senator Norica Nicolai from the Judicial Commission at the end of January, the ruling parties failed to pass a key vote on establishing the National Integrity Agency (ANI). The vote concerned whther ANI had the legal right to investigate the accuracy of the wealth statements of public figures.

Opposition party plots to kick out president via public vote
 An opposition bloc plans to suspend the president from his duties and then put the head of state to the public vote. Opposition parties Romania Mare and Social Democrats have joined the Conservative party to pass a proposal to suspend Basescu. As we went to press, the group had failed to secure a majority necessary in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. If this passes, a public referendum takes place. If more than 50 per cent of the electorate turn up to the polls and more than half of these vote against Basescu, he must go.