Press review (Sept 3)

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The Romanian dailies on Thursday carry reports on the Romanian foreign minister’s decision to take part in the European Affairs Commission of the House of Representatives in The Hague; endless squabbling in the ruling coalition and wrangling ahead of the presidential elections;

the protests staged by the prosecutors and judges, who are now joined by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate prosecutors; and the twisted values governing the Romanian pupils.

Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu had decided to cancel a previously scheduled visit to the Netherlands, after this country’s government drafted a document on Romania’s lack of progress on fighting corruption.

However, the minister reconsidered after a phone call from his counterpart and following the clarifications received via diplomatic channels from the Dutch side, the Evenimentul zilei quotes the Romanian foreign affairs ministry as saying.

The prosecutors at the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised and Terrorist Crimes (DIICOT) decided to begin protests on Wednesday over the under-funding of the judicial system and the salary policy in this sector, which differs from the policy backed for the other two state powers, the Gardianul reports.

The DIICOT prosecutors will work on the urgent files only; the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) also joined the protests, but it didn’t stop activity.

‘The Big Day’ when the government should have decided to take responsibility for three sets of laws was more of a war of nerves, amid rising rumours that Democrat Liberal Prime Minister Emil Boc will use the education code, included in the sets of laws, as a pretence for ousting several Social Democrat ministers, the Jurnalul National reports.

No decision seems to be made with respect to the public sector salaries, the measures meant to fight the downturn are left to wait for a change for the better and the education laws are in constant Brownian movement exclusively depending on the ‘temperature’ of the political scene.

All this happens because the ruling co-partners Social Democrats and Democratic Liberals kick each other endlessly.

They would like to break up, though they feel well together and Prime Minister Emil Boc doesn’t seem too eager to take responsibility on the laws promised a few months ago. This spells widespread chaos, the Cotidianul writes.

Social Democrat (PSD) leader Mircea Geoana has good news for his party’s members. ‘President (Traian) Basescu is falling’, he had announced in a party meeting at the end of August, the Ziua says.

The remarks are part of a longer series of spectacular statements he made at a PSD meeting. An audio-tape rendering a voice that seems to be Geoana’s was published on www.ne-cenzurat.ro (meaning not censored) late on Wednesday, the Ziua says.

Prince Radu Duda has withdrawn from the presidential race, arguing that by his retirement the battle for Cotroceni Palace will turn into a fight between ‘clans’.

Prince Radu, who is the husband of ex-Romanian king Mihai’s eldest daughter Margareta, says he was sad to make the decision, but he had ‘hopes for the future’.

Echoing the remarks of former President Emil Constantinescu, who had said he would not seek a second term in 2000 as he had been defeated by ‘the system’, Radu Duda said he is the victim of the Romanian right, of the civil society, of the business circles and the media, that failed to back his political project, the Evenimentul zilei reports.

‘It is a matter of weeks, maybe days’, says a prominent Democratic Liberal leader when asked how long the ‘marriage’ with the Social Democrats will last.

While the PD-L leaders are confident the PSD will be ousted from government, no senior Democratic Liberal leader assumes such a statement publicly, the Gandul says.

According to the Gardianul, the Democratic Liberals are testing the waters for making up a possible government with the Liberals (PNL). Liberal president Crin Antonescu said yesterday his party had received unofficial signals of being invited to join the government.

He stressed the PNL Central Political Bureau decided not to answer such invitation and he slammed President Traian Basescu’s moves to ‘try to fool people again’.

The biggest foreign investors repatriated one billion euros worth of dividends. A significant part of the record profit made by the biggest Romanian companies last year got into their majority shareholders’ accounts from abroad, while the foreign investment dropped dramatically.

Mobile telephony operators Orange and Vodafone, the biggest banks in the domestic market BCR and BRD and the three cement makers Lafarge, Holcim and Heidelberg Cement took one billion euros out of Romania, according to calculations made by the Ziarul financiar.

Nearly two months into the First House programme, some 1,700 applications have been filed. The officials say the pace is increasing, with 150 applications being filed a week, up from just a prior few. The average value of the applications stands at 42,000 euros.

Given that most such applications have been put forward in Bucharest, one can imagine that ‘The First House’ is a bachelor-style single room flat in a remote neighbourhood, the Ziua comments.

Financial assessment agency Moody’s, the only such institution still recommending investment in Romania, believes the Romanians will reach the European Union average as late as in 2050. Such an assessment relies on an economic growth to possibly stand at 3-4 percent on the long-term.

‘The combination of a fair business climate, a EU member’s status and the improvement of the physical and social infrastructure backed by European funds should sustain high levels of investments in time, allowing for a gradual rise in the real income towards the community bloc average.

Nevertheless, such trend will take considerable time, about 40 years most likely’, the Cotidianul and Ziua quote the Moody’s report as saying.

A woman from the northwestern Oradea city, who gave birth to a baby girl three weeks ago at the city’s maternity unit, says the doctors had told her, immediately after giving birth, that the baby had died.

On Wednesday, she was announced by the medical staff that the baby was alive. Therefore, she had to go to the hospital’s maternity unit to draw up the birth document to then use at the registry office to be issued a birth certificate. The authorities came up with a bewildering explanation:

‘There might have been a communication malfunctioning between the hospital staff and the family’. A similar case occurred six years ago at the Maternity in Ploiesti (north of the capital). The health care system has learnt nothing from that lesson, the Romania libera writes.

Most Romanian pupils come from families in which the cell phones, motor cars, watching TV and less learning are the main values.

The Romanian education ministry, which reforms the system every year, offers the children no support to pass this level and thus condemns them to a lack of knowledge, placing them on the same spot with Botswana children, who do not seek to get higher education, the Jurnalul National reports.

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