A roundup of domestic and international news.
PANDEMIC – Hungary will close its borders again starting September 1st, returning to a policy implemented during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis. It is the first EU country to reintroduce wholesale border restrictions after the bloc reopened in the past months. Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, discussed the issue over the phone with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto on Saturday. The latter confirmed that the Romanian citizens’ transit through the neighbouring country and the access of the Romanian cross-border workers would not be affected at all, with the same border check points being open. Szijjarto said that the rules to be changed only refer to people who enter Hungary as their final destination. In its turn, Poland will ban flights from 46 countries, Romania included, starting September 2nd, while Ukraine banned the access of foreign citizens, with several exceptions, starting Friday night. Several other European countries have imposed additional restrictions. France, with over 7 thousand new infections every day has made mask wearing compulsory outdoor in several cities, including the capital Paris. Spanish kids older than 6 must also wear face masks while Germany has raised fines for not wearing the mask. Britain, on the other hand, prepares to ease restrictions in some regions.
DISPUTE – In Berlin, European Union foreign ministers have agreed “in the absence of “progress with Turkey,” to develop a list of further sanctions against the country over its recent activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Commission’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has announced. “We are clear and determined in defending European Union interests, in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus. Turkey has to abstain from unilateral actions. This is a basic element to allow dialogue to advance,” Borrell told a press conference following the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers. Romania has offered to share with Turkey and Greece its expertise acquired in its maritime delimitation issue with Ukraine. As a first step, Minister Aurescu suggested introducing a standstill agreement on exploration in the disputed area pending a clear delimitation, either via negotiations or by referring the matter to the International Court of Justice.
BELARUS - The European Union has urged Russia not to intervene in Belarus and observe the democratic rights of the country’s citizens. The crisis in Belarus started after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko extended his 26-year rule in an election on August 9. Large-scale protests have taken place since then calling for his resignation. The EU has rejected the results of the poll, which saw Lukashesko claim 80% of the vote and is preparing sanctions against his regime for ballot fraud and a violent crackdown on opposition protesters. Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu has asked for the release of political prisoners and of the thousands of detained protesters. Aurescu called for a "firm, coherent, coordinated and comprehensive policy" to obtain results in relations with the Russian Federation, which remains "a strategic challenge for the EU and Member States".
CORONAVIRUS - Romania has 1,365 new confirmed infections with Covid-19 since the latest report, the Strategic Communication Group has announced. 32 new fatalities have been reported, bringing the total death toll to 3,539. Since the beginning of the pandemic Romania has reported a total of 85,833 confirmed infections, while 37,388 patients have been declared healed. 8,982 people are presently in home isolation and 32,968 people have been quarantined at home. 490 patients are in intensive care. The number of Romanian citizens abroad infected with coronavirus stands at 6,589 and the death toll at 126.
ELECTIONS - Saturday was the second day of the Romanian local election campaign. Authorities have again announced the rules that candidates and their staff must observe in order to prevent coronavirus infections. According to the Interior Ministry, wearing face masks is compulsory. Access and individual protection rules will be displayed in visible places and there will be a minimum 1-meter distance between participants. Events held in enclosed spaces will last 2 hours at the most and will be attended by maximum 50 people while in the case of outdoor events, as many as 100 people can attend. Moreover, for the door-to-door type of campaign, only teams of two people will be allowed. The local elections are scheduled for September 27th. At stake are 41 seats of county council president, over 13 hundred seats of county councillors, 40 thousand seats of local councillors and 3200 mayor seats. (Translated by Elena Enache)