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A review of the main events of the week
The COVID vaccination campaign continues
Romania is fourth place in the EU in terms of COVID-19 vaccination, with a rate of 3.75%, according to the National Committee for Coordinating Vaccination Activity president, military physician Valeriu Gheorghita. He added that the EU average is 2.95%. So far, about 650,000 Romanians have been vaccinated. Over half a million people have been scheduled for vaccination for the first dose before April 14, and almost a million for the follow-up. The calendar of delivery is delayed, just like in the rest of Europe, but the manufacturing companies provided assurance that by the middle of the month deliveries would be ramped up. Undersecretary with the Health Ministry Andrei Baciu said that Romania would receive 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for the months of February and March.
Preparations for reopening schools
Starting on Monday, February 8, schools in Romania reopen, and students can go back to school in person, in the second semester of the school year. The authorities have decided that going back would be based on three scenarios, depending on the incidence of COVID cases registered in the last 14 days. In the first version, in places with incidence of up to 1 per thousand, all students and teachers can attend class in person. In the second, in places with an incidence between 1 and 3 per thousand, classes will be attended in person only by kindergarten and primary school students, along with students that are about to graduate. In the third version, only kindergarten and primary school students attend classes physically. Students, teachers, and the rest of staff have to wear protective masks at all times, both indoors and outdoors.
Romanian prosecutors for Europe
The Ministry of Justice in Bucharest has announced that it has selected six candidates for the position of European prosecutor on behalf of the country. They will be working for the newly created European prosecutor office, the EPPO within their states, and will have the same attributions in terms of initiating investigations, cases, and prosecutions. The EPPO was set up in April 2017 upon the initiative of Romanian EuroMP Monica Macovei, formerly justice minister in Bucharest, and is led by Laura Codruta Kovesi, formerly head of anti-corruption prosecutors in Romania. It was created based on the consolidated cooperation procedure, and joined optionally by member states. 22 states are participating right now, among them Romania. The role of this structure, headquartered in Luxembourg, which will become operational next month, is to facilitate cooperation in investigations and prosecutions of crimes that affect the budget of the EU, such as fraud and money laundering.
Novelty in the Romanian justice system
A court in Bucharest on Thursday has issued the first criminal sentence against a person for denial of the Holocaust. Former lieutenant-colonel in the Romanian Intelligence Service Vasile Zarnescu got a year and a month in prison suspended sentence for publishing several text denying the Holocaust, the killing of millions of Jews and other minorities by Nazi Germany and its satellite states. A 2002 emergency ordinance issued by the government makes contesting or denying the Holocaust in public a crime, punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison, or by a fine. No other court had previously issued a definitive sentence based on this act. Liberal MP Alexandru Moraru, special representative of the government for policies against anti-Semitism and xenophobia believes that this first sentence in Romania for denying the Holocaust sends a strong message on behalf of justice, and also raises the alarm against a growing wave of anti-Semitism, which should be taken very seriously.
A settlement in the Cancun situation
The Mexican authorities have solved the situation of Romanian citizens stuck in the international airport in Cancun, as a result of a telephone conversation held by Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubó. All Romanian citizens in the airport were granted access to Mexico, with the exception of five people, who were remitted to Romania because of a security alert. According to the press, 114 Romanian tourists had been held in the airport for several days without explanation, in humiliating conditions.
Maia Sandu in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his unabashed support for the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders, as well as for a settlement in the conflict involving Transdnestr, the pro-Russian separatist region. In a meeting at Elysee Palace between the French president and newly elected pro-Western Moldovan president Maia Sandu, Macron said that France is committed to supporting the Republic of Moldova in its investment projects, support for reforming government and the justice system, and renovating infrastructure with a view to sustainable development. In turn, President Sandu, quoted by the Radio Romania correspondent in Paris, said that Moldova's commitment to Europe, made in 2014, when they signed the association agreement with the EU, was the shortest path to democracy and prosperity. The Moldovan president, Maia Sandu, who also holds Romanian citizenship, said the her country is a European country not only geographically, but also by culture, history, language, as well as aspirations towards democracy, equality, and rule of law. Two thirds of Moldova's trade is done with EU countries.
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