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One quarter of Cabinet leaves to candidate for local elections

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Four ministers and two state secretaries will leave their jobs, temporarily, to stand in the local elections as mayors in city halls and for city and county councils.
This leaves one quarter of the Cabinet empty of top posts until June at least.
Minister of Transport Ludovic Orban will leave his job for the election period to run for Mayor of Bucharest City Hall for the National Liberal Party (PNL). He claimed that his physical presence is not required in his job. “I only need a phone to run the Ministry,” Orban said.
State secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Antonel Tanase, will be the Liberals’ candidate for the leadership of Sector 6, Bucharest.
Minister of Development, Public Works and Housing, Laszlo Borbely, has agreed to run for the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) for the City Hall of Targu-Mures.
Borbely’s subordinate, state secretary Horia Irimia, is PNL’s candidate for president of Caras-Severin County Council. Anna Horvath is the only State Secretary in the Ministry of Development not involved in the campaign and could be appointed, by default, to head the institution.
The Minister for SMEs, Tourism and Liberal Professions, Ovidiu Silaghi is the PNL candidate for Satu-Mare County Council. Meanwhile PNL Minister of Education Cristian Adomnitei will candidate for the City Hall of Iasi.
PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu will not dismiss the ministers and will instead run the Government on his own during May.

Business lawyer appointed to revamp justice reform

Business lawyer Catalin Predoiu has been appointed Minister of Justice at a time when Romania must win a favourable result in the European Commission monitoring report on justice due this summer. If negative, this report could recommend that all EU countries end recognition of sentences given in Romanian courts.
Predoiu, 40, is not part of the leadership of the governing National Liberal Party (PNL), even though he has been a member since 1991. Widely seen as a hardworking technocrat with a good legal mind, Predoiu was associate lawyer in Romanian law firm Zamfirescu Racoti Predoiu.
This summer Predoiu will also have the power to decide whether Daniel Morar, chief-prosecutor for the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA), can stay in his post. Morar has been highly praised for his job by the European Commission. But there is pressure from many in the political class, under investigation by the DNA, to sack Morar.

Court empowers MPs to stop probe
into their own cases

Four present and ex-ministers, who are also MPs, cannot be investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors unless the Romanian Parliament gives its consent, the Constitutional Court has ordered.
President Traian Basescu has approved the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) to start investigations against ex-Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, former Minister of Transport Miron Mitrea, Minister of Labour Paul Pacuraru and former Minister of Economy Codrut Seres.
But last month Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled that Parliament must give its consent for the ministers to be investigated, because all four are members of this political body.
However Romanian legislation remains unclear in this situation, so the DNA is continuing its probe into Nastase, Mitrea, Pacuraru and Seres.

Romania top in EU for complaints to European Court of Human Rights

Romania ranks third after Russia and Turkey, all members of the Council of Europe, in number of complaints filed by citizens to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
But the ECHR judges rule against 97 per cent of these complaints by Romanian citizens, according to the Romanian Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM).
From 8,640 cases filed by Romanians against their country in 2007, 2,629 gained a judgment from the ECHR and only three per cent of this figure ended in a guilty verdict against the Romanian state.
“In most cases Romanians do not understand how this court works and what kind of problems it can solve,” said Razvan Horatiu Radu, under-secretary of state within Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Governmental Agent for the ECHR.
From 88 convictions against Romania last year, 55 stated the Romanian state violated the property rights of the individual. In 2007, the state was forced to pay around 7.7 million Euro to Romanian citizens for which the ECHR ruled in favour or to give back to people their houses. “In most cases the state tries to recover the houses in question and give them back to their rightful owner,” said the under-secretary of state.
When the institution providing shares in state companies to people in exchange for property they have lost during the Communism, the Fondul Proprietatea [Ownership Fund], starts operating fewer Romanian citizens will seek justice at the ECHR, experts have stated.
Another main cause for which Romanians file complaints to the Strasbourg-based Court is procedural matters in Romania’s courts.
In some cases a Romanian court’s judgment has not been executed. In others, a trial has dragged on too long, including cases which have lasted for six years.

Short News

Romania: lowest EU rate for
organ donors

Among EU countries, Romania allows the fewest organs from patients in a persistent vegetative state. This can only happen with the approval of the family, who rarely consent to the removal of their relative’s organs. There is a new draft law from seven Senators which is waiting for approval in the Parliament, stating that every citizen who has not given a written refusal during his/her lifetime to donate his or her organs, has given implicit approval for donation after their death. Over 2,000 Romanians are currently on the waiting list for kidney, liver, heart and pancreas transplants. Almost one third of these people need a kidney. Meanwhile liver transplants are rare in Romania, where 0.5 such surgeries take place for every one million people.

Romania: highest EU rate for
car accidents

Romania ranks first with Latvia in the EU in terms of deaths in car accidents for people between 15 and 55 years old, according to Eurostat. In Romania around 750 people die in car accidents, while one in every three people injured in car accidents dies in Romania. Around one third of accidents are due to speeding. In recent year, accidents in Bucharest have caused the deaths of rock musician Teo Peter, who died in a collision provoked by an US marine and film director Cristi Nemescu, killed in an accident caused by a British citizen in Bucharest.

Social Democrats sweep up
left and union support

One month before the campaign for the local elections in June, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) is holding negotiations with four very small left-wing, the Romanian Ecologists, Greens, Socialist Alliance and the Social Democratic Party - Constantin Titel. The intention is to set up a left-wing slate. The PSD has already concluded a cooperation agreement with National Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Romania (CNSLR-Fratia).

NATO summit price tag
for Romania: 26 million Euro

Organising the NATO summit this month in Bucharest cost Romania almost 26 million Euro. This event is the largest ever organised by Romania and is the biggest summit in NATO’s history. Most of the funds, 6.7 million Euro, went to the Chamber of Deputies, followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with 5.3 million Euro. Participants are paying around 4.2 million Euro to hotels for accommodation costs. Around 50 head of states and governments, almost 90 ministers, around 3,000 people from their staff and 3,500 journalists are present at the summit.

Fascist-leaning groups protest
against Hungarians

On Hungary’s National Day of 15 March extreme right-wing groups protested in Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest calling for Hungarians to leave the country. In events surrounding these protests, one 17 year-old Hungarian teenager was attacked and beaten by two Romanian ethnics in Cluj-Napoca. Hundreds attended the protests organised by extreme right-wing group Noua Dreapta [New Right].

Environment Minister saves zoo from closure

Minister of Environment Attila Korodi has saved the Bucharest Zoo from closure. The zoo is located on a plot in the north of the city on some of the most expensive land in Bucharest. Former pre-Communist owners of land on the zoo’s site have taken the Zoo to court to reclaim their property. To remedy this problem, Minister Korodi will find another plot in exchange for the zoo’s land to give to the rightful owners. However all Romanian zoos are under threat of closure because they must comply with EU safety rules. Massive investment is necessary or they could close down, leading to fears for the future of the animals. Korodi has said he will allocate 35 million Euro to rehabilitate Romania’s zoos.

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