Focus on Romania
1. GEOPOLITICAL EVENTS
The Romanian Parliament recalled a law limiting the number of foreign soldiers who can stay within the country to 3,000. At the same time, the movement of heavy NATO military equipment to Romanian military bases is hotly debated. At the military base in Mihail Kogălniceanu, Constanța (a Black Sea port), the training of American soldiers has increased. "The consolidation of NATO forces in Eastern Europe is an unprecedented step, which breaches all the existing agreements," stated Aleksander Lukashevitch, spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He continued: "You should be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a step." The problem is that no citizens were asked and no public debate has taken place with respect to this matter. In fact, the union with NATO was made without any referendum – although a great majority would probably have approved any such referendum. President Klaus Iohannis received the Turkish President Erdogan in Bucharest. The main topic on the meeting agenda concerned military partnerships – both the bilateral and that with NATO.
2. THE INTERNAL SOCIAL AND POLITIC SITUATION
Romanian farmers are facing the prospect of bankruptcy. The National Federation of Trade Unions in Agriculture estimates that the lowering of milk prices to the level of the European Union beginning April 1st could lead to the disappearance of more than 60% of the cow farms in Romania. Protests have taken place in Bucharest, but advocates are likely to encounter "deaf ears." Fiscal authorities have begun a campaign of very severe inspections, because of which numerous service companies identified as having minor non-conformities (2-3 extra lei in the cash register) have been closed for varying lengths of time, and several people have lost their jobs. A well-known civic activist, Erwin Albu, announced that he is refusing to pay taxes and charges to local authorities, but instead will provide work for the benefit of the community. His decision is motivated by the fact that the money paid to the budget could tempt the local decision makers. Could this be the beginning of a civic non-obedience movement?
3. CHRISTIANITY AND THE WORLD
The last remaining cleric in the area of Idlib city in northern Syria, the Orthodox priest Ibrahim (Avraham), together with a part of his flock, was kidnapped by terrorists. Their fate remains uncertain. * We receive messages from the Romanian-Syrian community (especially from Romanian women married to Syrian men and their children) that even the most bitter critics of the Assad regime acknowledge the president as a protector of Christians, and that Christianity is preferred to the chaos created by war and the extremism of the Jihadist troops.
4. FAMILY VALUES / BIOETHICS
The Romanian Senate rejected, with only eight votes out of more than 120 in favor, the second attempt to legalize "civil partnerships” between persons of the same sex. The proposal was initiated less than one year after the rejection of the first by the same “papier-mâché” character in the Romanian Parliament, a secular extremist lacking any Parliamentary support, but with backing from Washington. Christian civil society is interested in these debates and will continue to stand resolute. The children benefit in Romania is the lowest in the European Union, amounting to only 42 lei (9 euros). An attempt to increase this benefit was rejected due to the "lack of available budget funds." A similar endeavor to tax-exempt families with handicapped children was also rejected on the same grounds. Secular groups panicked when they learned that members of the association "Parents for the Religion Class," the biggest parenthood association in the country, intend to introduce a citizenship initiative to review the Constitution, with the aim of protecting families and marriage and parental rights.