COVID-19 – The Prime Minister Florin Cîţu announced that Romania has a stock of 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be used by the end of March. The government introduced in the second vaccination stage, which began on January 15, new categories of population, such as the people with disabilities and those who take care of them, the diplomatic staff, seafarers and athletes who participate in international competitions. The elderly and the vulnerable people will have priority, according to the government's decision that changes the vaccination strategy. Thus, the registration platform will be modified to give priority to the elderly and the vulnerable persons, so that, during one day, 25% of the appointments should be for people in key areas and 75% for vulnerable people, the Vaccination Coordination Committee announced on Thursday. Another 2,878 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Romania in the last 24 hours, following more than 30,000 tests, the authorities announced on Thursday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total number of 704,000 contaminations has been reported. 641,288 patients have recovered. 69 people have died from COVID-19, which takes the death toll to more than 17,550. More than 1,000 patients are in ICUs. Most new cases in the last 24 hours have been registered in Bucharest, in Timis and Cluj counties.
Talks - The Romanian Justice Minister, Stelian Ion, on Thursday held talks in videoconference format with Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice. The Romanian official talked about the Government's decision to urgently adopt, by the end of February, the draft law for abolishing the controversial Section for the Investigation of Crimes in the Judiciary. Other topics under discussion were related to the Rule of Law Mechanism and its relation to the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, to how to make operational the European Prosecutor's Office, how to transpose and implement EU directives, how to digitalize the justice system in Romania. Commissioner Reynders expressed his willingness to cooperate with the Romanian authorities in order to ensure the predictability and sustainability of the justice reform process. The stability, predictability and coherence of the justice laws are a priority for the Justice Ministry, and the correct and complete transposition of all EU directives is a priority of the Government Program, said justice minister Stelian Ion.
US – The Democrat Joe Biden is, as of Wednesday, the new US president. He took the oath of office during an atypical inauguration ceremony. Against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of US flags were installed in Washington DC, where visitors from around the country would have normally stood to watch the presidential inauguration. Romanian political leaders have conveyed their congratulations to Joe Biden. President Klaus Iohannis voiced confidence that Bucharest and Washington will continue to develop their Strategic Partnership, to the benefit of the two nations, and work together in the spirit of genuine trans-Atlantic ties. "We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again,” President Biden said in his speech.
Commemoration - Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism are current dangers that must be firmly countered by society, the Romanian Senate Speaker Anca Dragu said on Thursday, on the occasion of the commemoration of 80 years since the Bucharest Pogrom of January 1941. The victims of the legionnaire pogrom in Bucharest (the interwar far right), of January 21-23, 1941, were commemorated, on Thursday, by wreath laying ceremonies and online transmissions on the Facebook page of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania. The historical moment was also marked as part of the debate "The Jewish Quarter under the terror of the Legionnaires pogrom in January 1941." The pogrom in Bucharest, during which at least 120 Jews were killed, was the continuation of the violent actions initiated by members of the legionnaire movement, which included murders, arrests, robberies, ill-treatment, and the desecration of cemeteries and places of worship.
Migrants – The Romanian border police in Nădlac and Vărşand (west) caught 42 citizens from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who were planning to illegally cross the border in Hungary heading for European countries. They were hidden in eight goods trucks driven by Romanian, Turkish and Czech drivers. The migrants, aged between 17 and 28, had asked for asylum in Romania. The border police are making investigations to establish whether drivers are involved in migrant trafficking.
NATO - A detachment of the Spanish Air Forces, consisting of about 130 soldiers - pilots and technical personnel - and six Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, will carry out enhanced Air Policing missions under NATO command in February and March, together with the Romanian Air Forces aircraft such as F-16 Fighting Falcon, MiG-21 LanceR and Romanian soldiers, shows a communiqué of the Romanian Defense Ministry. The deployment of the Spanish detachment at the 'Mihail Kogălniceanu' Air Base (southeastern Romania) is part of the implementation of the Action Plan for ensuring NATO's operational capacity on the Alliance's eastern flank and it demonstrates NATO’s unity and determination in response to security challenges. The Defense Ministry points out that the Air Policing missions and the joint trainings contribute to the development of the reaction and deterrence capacity, as well as to the strengthening of interoperability between the Romanian and Spanish Air Forces, proving involvement and determination in the context of COVID-19 pandemic challenges. (tr. L. Simion)