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March 21-25 2022
Summits in the context of the Ukraine war
This week in Brussels, as part of an unprecedented diplomatic mobilization of Western democracies, three summits were dedicated to Ukraine: by NATO, by the EU, and the strongest seven economies. G7 leaders demanded in a joint declaration for Russia to comply with the ruling of the International Court of Justice and immediately cease military operations in Ukraine. The same declaration demands the withdrawal of Russian troops, while promising that the G7 will ensure that sanctions on Moscow will be strictly enforced. At the NATO summit, the alliance decided on additional support for Ukraine. This is the gravest security crisis in a generation, said the secretary general of the organization, Jens Stoltenberg, whose term has been extended to September 30, 2023. He announced that new combat groups would be created for Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia, consolidating the other four in Poland and the Baltic Countries. The decision is meant to bolster NATO's eastern flank, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The leaders of the alliance will also issue plans to create additional forces and capacity ahead of the summit in June, according to US President Joe Biden. The White House leader came this week to Europe to take part in the aforementioned summits in Brussels, and to visit Poland, a country to which most of the Ukrainian refugees went. At the NATO reunion, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis underlined that strengthening allied presence in Romania and the entire eastern flank is a strategic objective for Bucharest, in response to Russian aggression against European and Euro-Atlantic security.
Decisions for Europe's energy security
The economic impact of the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, and European energy security while reducing the dependence on Russia were the topics on the agenda of the European Council in Brussels. The European Commission wants member states to purchase natural gas together, in an attempt to consolidate the EU's energy security, and reduce dependence on Russian sources of energy. A strategy to this end was made public on Wednesday by the executive, ahead of the Brussels meeting of heads of state and government in the EU. A new working group would be set up to handle partnerships from outside the community, and the activity of this team would get inspiration from experience gained during the pandemic, when the member states purchased vaccines against COVID-19 jointly, the EC specified. The idea of reducing dependence on Russian gas is also reflected in the announcement made by President Biden and head of the EC von der Leyen about an agreement to bolster the amount of LNG that Europe gets from the US. At the same time, Brussels wants for every member state to make sure that, by November 1, every member state has sufficient gas reserve for the winter, at at least 80% of their own storage capacity, and at least 90% the following winter. At the same time, the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine caused European officials to reconsider their position on coal as an energy source. That includes Romania, which, though less dependent on Russia for energy, is preparing to boost coal production.
Support from the refugees from Ukraine
Brussels proposed to increase by 3.4 billion Euro the funds for member states who take in refugees from Ukraine. The money will go mainly to the countries bordering that country, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, but also to those who took in the highest number of people reported to their population – Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, and Estonia. A press release from the EC specifies that right now efforts are focused on protecting children, access to education, healthcare, and access to housing and jobs. 10 million Ukrainians, about a quarter of the population, were forced to leave their homes because of the war started by Russia on February 24. A few hundred thousand of them crossed into Romania, and the treatment they were given here was given lavish praise by Bucharest's partners. The EC decided to send to Romania a team to evaluate the expenses incurred by the government in relation to the refugees, and to establish a way to reimburse them. At the same time, the government in Bucharest put together a national plan to support refugees. Six working groups will manage the people who want to stay on Romanian territory. Over the border, fighting continues. In its second month of war, Ukraine manages to resist against the Russian onslaught, with victims on both sides, while peace negotiations have so far been inconclusive.
Former Romanian President Traian Basescu found to be former Securitate informer
Former Romanian President Traian Basescu was a Securitate informer. That was the ruling this week of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which upholds by definitive decision the ruling of the previous court. Along the years, the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives looked into President Basescu, and he eventually got an affidavit stating that he had not collaborated, in 2014. In 2019, however, the Council concluded, based on documentary evidence, that the former president did collaborate with the political police. As a first reaction, Traian Basescu said that he would not comment on the decision of the supreme court, and will undertake legal action at the European Court for Human Rights.
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