John Heffern: Deveselu anti-missile shield full-fledged by mid-December
The missile defence system in the Romanian southern village of Deveselu will become operational on December 18, John A. Heffern, US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, told Radio Romania on Wednesday. Mr. Heffern made the statement at a reception organised at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on the occasion of Romania’s National Day. There are lots of challenges everywhere – of course, the aggression of Rusia in Ukraine in the East. But we also face challenges in the South. And Romania’ strategic position and the country’s political commitment are key assets to helping us address such challenges, Mr. Heffern said in an interview with RRA. The ballistic missile defence system is the key component in President Barack Obama’s plan for a phased deployment of a missile defence umbrella in Europe. Another missile base is scheduled to become operational in Poland by 2018.
Fate of a Romanian MP under renewed debate in the Senate
Further debates in the Romanian Senate are expected to answer a request by Romania’s anticorruption watchdog concerning the preventive arrest of Dan Şova, a senator of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), for his alleged involvement in a corruption-related case. „You are expected to consider a 3,000 page-file. Some 60 pages are about me. However, those 60 pages are not evidence against me as they only include orders issued by prosecutors and a denouncement”, told his fellow MPs on Thursday. DNA prosecutors accused Mr. Şova of influence peddling in the case of Mihai Bălan, a former head of the CET Govora, an electricity company in the Romanian southern town of Râmnicu Vâlcea, also under investigation. A bid to lift the immunity of Mr. Şova has fallen short in a parliamentary vote last March. Dan Şova is also involved in the corruption case against former Prime Minister Victor Ponta. According to prosecutors, Ponta forged expense claims amounting to around 39,750 euros during his time at a law firm belonging to Mr. Şova, a political ally and former government minister, using the funds to pay for luxury apartments and an SUV rental. Ponta also appointed Şova as a minister at least three times during his tenure as prime minister, constituting a conflict of interest.
Romania was ranked the last in the European Union in terms of the ratio that research and development spending hold in the country’s GDP, according to Eurostat. According to Eurostat, Romania spends only 0.38 percent of its GDP on R&D, being among countries with very low spending, which also includes Greece, Bulgaria and Poland. At the opposite pole, there are countries like Finland which spends 3.17 percent of the GDP, followed by Sweden, with 3.16 percent and Denmark, with 3.08 spending. In another development, a Eurostat report, which was carried out over all 28 EU countries, positions Romania with the highest threat to children at risk of poverty in the EU, ahead of Bulgaria, which has seen a 16.2% drop from 61% to 45.2%.
More than half of all children (51%) under 18 in Romania are at risk of poverty, more so than when the Eastern European country joined the EU in 2007 (50.5%), data has revealed.
Romania’s Allegria children choir meets Pope Francis
Romanian Christmas carols and other traditional Christmas songs were performed at the Vatican on Wednesday when Pope Francis welcomed the Allegria children choir of the Andrei Mureşianu Greek-Catholic Bishopric in the Romanian Transylvanian town of Cluj-Napoca. The Romanian children visited the Vatican on the occasion of the traditional Papal General Audience held in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis was offered a Byzantine-style icon of St. Francis of Asissi on the occasion. The children also displayed a 7 meter-Romanian flag at the border between the Vatican and Italy.