Tag Archives: Bucharest

Putin threatens to take Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius and Bucharest in two days

Putin threatens to take Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius and Bucharest in two days

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has stated that he can bring troops into Warsaw, Vilnius and a number of other capitals of the EU and the NATO countries.

This information is revealed in a short message of the EU foreign policy service, a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung writes.

As stated by the newspaper, Putin had told so to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

In his turn, Poroshenko passed along the content of the conversation to the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, “Evropejskaya Pravda” informs.

Putin: Russian army may enter Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania in few days

“If I had wanted, I would have brought troops within two days not only to Kyiv, but to Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” Putin told to Poroshenko.

Besides, as the German newspaper informs, Putin recommended the Ukrainian president “not to rely on the EU too much”, as if required, he can “influence and block passing a decision at the level of the European Council.”

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PM Ponta: Gov’t cannot endlessly tolerate Hungarian Ambassador’s unacceptable slippages

Prime Minister Victor Ponta stresses that the Government of Romania cannot “endlessly tolerate the unacceptable slippages” of the Hungarian Ambassador in Bucharest.

“I don’t want to fall into the trap of provocations from Budapest, but the Romanian Government cannot endlessly tolerate the unacceptable slippages of the Hungarian Ambassador in Bucharest, or of other Hungarian officials who visit our country! The stance expressed by the Romanian Foreign Ministry was extremely balanced and consistent with European regulations and standards,” the Prime Minister wrote on Tuesday on Facebook.

Flag_map_of_Romania.svg_

Ponta adds that he respects the Hungarian people, but he doesn’t wait for “Budapest’s approval” to voice his opinions about his own country.

“And yet another necessary clarification – I respect Hungary and the Hungarian people, but I don’t need to get Budapest’s approval to voice my legitimate opinions about my country – I am not under pressure from EPP leaders (as unfortunately some of my Romanian fellow politicians are) to close my eyes and obediently swallow such slippages from the diplomatic regulations and customary respect between two countries,” Ponta wrote.

Romanian Ambassador in Budapest Victor Micula had on August 11 an audience with Secretary of State with the Hungarian Foreign Ministry Levente Magyar, at his own request.

“We hereby specify that the audience held today, August 11, at the premises of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Mr. Ambassador Micula was received by State Secretary Levente Magyar, took place at the request of the Romanian side, which was referred to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry yesterday, August 10, and not following a summons by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry.

The Hungarian Foreign Ministry answered the request of the Romanian Embassy on August 11, fixing the audience for the same day,” read the clarifications sent to Agerpres by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the cited source, the audience was requested following instructions given by the Romanian Foreign Ministry, that the stance of the Romanian side on the interview the Hungarian Ambassador in Bucharest gave Romania libera daily to be directly conveyed to the Hungarian officials.

“The Romanian Ambassador in Budapest conveyed the same messages as those the representative of the Romanian Foreign Ministry communicated yesterday, August 10, to the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Hungary in Bucharest,” the same source added.

The Hungarian state-owned news agency MTI announced on Tuesday that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry had summoned the Romanian Ambassador in Budapest Victor Micula, in connection with statements made on Monday evening by Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta on the all-news channel Romania TV, according to which Hungary is trying “to provoke” Romania.

Ikea buys 33,600 hectares of forest in Romania

Ikea has bought 33,600 hectares of forest in Romania, from a Swedish private company, making it the largest forest owner in Romania, according to Mediafax news.

Ikea purchased the hectares of forest from a Swedish company, Greengold, led by former partners in Romania of the University of Harvard.

This is the first acquisition of its kind carried out by the Swedish company worldwide and makes the furniture and furnishings retailer into the largest owner of forests in Romania.

In January, Harvard University gave, after charges of corruption, some forests in Romania to Greengold Swedish group headed by partners and employees from Bucharest of the US University’s investment division.

Purchased forest areas are in Prahova, Buzau, Vrancea, Botosani and Bihor. Romania is the first country where Ikea Group will coordinate its own activities of owned forest management, through a Romanian company, IRI Investments Ltd, part of the Ikea Group.

“Ikea Group decided to invest in forestry operations. This decision facilitates access to sustainably managed wood raw material (…). Investment in forests is a way to diversify our assets. With this acquisition, Romania became the first country in which Ikea Group will manage their forest operations and we intend to be an example of sustainable forest management,” said Frederik de Jong, chairman of the board of IRI Investments SRL.

Ikea has not communicated the transaction price due to a confidentiality agreement signed with the former owner of the forest. For now, Ikea does not intend to purchase other forests in Romania, said de Jong.

Asked what volume of timber will be cut annually and its reforestation strategy, the Ikea representative stated that this type of data has not yet been established.

With this acquisition, the group holds in Romania – as a global permiere – both timber resources and a direct relationship with local manufacturing of furniture or finished products in stores.

According to Violeta Nenita, operations manager of South East Europe Purchasing, Ikea, the company cooperates with over 20 suppliers in Romania, mainly producing sofas, armchairs, tables, chairs, baby items and ceramic products.

“More than 14,000 people work for our suppliers in Romania, and the value of products purchased by Ikea Group in Romania rose to EUR 400 million per year. We have over 15 years of collaboration with our existing suppliers, during which most of them have registered increased sales and have significantly improved their production capacities,” added Nenita.

Ikea Group’s retail division is represented in Romania by a store opened in Bucharest in 2007, and the group recently bought land for a second store, also in Bucharest.

Bucharest or Budapest? Jersey politician Steve Pallett flies to wrong country

Bucharest or Budapest

A British politician has become the object of internet ridicule after taking an official trip to the wrong European capital.

Jersey’s assistant minister for sport, Steve Pallett, was due to arrive in Bucharest in Romania for the handover ceremony of the Dance World Cup, which is to be hosted in the Channel Island next year.

Instead he landed in Budapest, Hungary, some 530 miles away, after getting a ticket for the wrong flight.

Steve Pallett
Jersey’s assistant minister for sport Steve Pallett flew to the wrong country(Twitter)

Pallet apologised for the mistake, which he described as a human error made by staff at the Education, Sport and Culture department.

“All I can do is apologise for what is a schoolboy error, the last thing I needed was a day trip to Budapest after a long week supporting the Island Games,” he told the BBC.

Shortly after the blunder was reported, Bucharest was trending on Twitter and Pallett found himself the target of social media pillory.

It could have been worse though, since Budapest is actually a very nice place.

Here are some of the top things you can do in the city, as listed by the We Love Budapest website:

  1. Visit the Royal Palace and Castle hill, listed as UNESCO world heritage sites
  2. Have a beer in the district VII ruin pubs
  3. Enjoy a hot thermal bath at one of the many city resorts
  4. Take a boat cruise on the Danube.
  5. Eat some Goulash, Hungary’s traditional stew meat soup and some other local delicacies.

Greenpeace activists arrested after ‘digging for gold’ in the yard of Romania’s People Palace

A group of 50 Greenpeace activists from 10 countries were arrested in Bucharest on Monday (December 9), after entering the yard of Romania’s People Palace where they started digging as part of an anti-gold mining campaign.

The 50 people, which included Canadians, Americans, Austrians, Hungarians, Poles, Germans, Czechs, Croatians and Romanians, started a so called ‘ gold mining area’ in the yard of the second largest building in the world, which hosts the Romanian Parliament. Among those arrested was also a journalist.

“In the last couple of months, the Government issues special laws allowing any private company, not just Roșia Montană Gold Corporation, to exploit any kind of resource, wherever it is. It just needs the label ‘national interest project’ and ‘public interest project’ and it is enough,” said Alexandru Riza, who coordinates Greenpeace Romania’s campaigns.

“The destruction of communities, environment, national patrimony, historic of cultural. This is as abnormal as digging for gold in the yard of an institution,” he added, referring to the unusual protest. “Today’s protest shows exactly what can a company interested is exploring and exploiting the country’s underground resources do.”

Canadian activist Mia Jessica Steinbach said she came from her home country to start digging for gold in the yard of the Parliament Palace. “I understand the Romanian Government issues laws allowing to search for and exploit resources by anyone, especially by Canadians,” she said.

Greepeace’s demonstration is the latest in a series of anti-mining protests sparked by plans by Canadian – owned Roșia Montană Gold Corporation to open a gold mine in the Transylvanian village of Rosia Montana, using cyanide in the gold extraction process.

An entire village, four mountains, churches and graveyards, as well as the historic center and the ruins of the Alburnus Maior citadel and Roman vestiges would all be destroyed by the cyanide pond in 15 to 17 years, according to Greenpeace. Cyanide mining was banned in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany, the organization said.

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources has been trying to get approval for 14 years to extract 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver from Rosia Montana over a period of 16 years using cyanide.

The operation would be run through its local arm, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), which is 81 percent owned by Gabriel and 19 percent by the Romanian State, whose stake would increase to about 25 percent if the project became functional.

The Romanian Government approved the project earlier this year, but the Parliament is yet to decide on the matter. Meanwhile, thousands have taken the streets of Bucharest protesting against the gold mining project.

How Romania Loses $28 Billion To Tax Evasion Every Year

Romanian flag

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Every morning, hundreds of traders pour into a cheap wholesale market in a northern suburb of Bucharest. But if the tax inspector calls, the bustle stops, shutters are quickly pulled down and the place falls silent.

Tax dodging remains rife in Romania, despite demands for improvement from the European Union, which it joined in 2007, and the International Monetary Fund, which provided aid after the financial crisis.

Untaxed, undeclared activity amounts to more than 28 percent of national output, putting Romania second only to Bulgaria in the EU for the size of the black economy as a proportion of GDP, a study by consultancy AT Kearney found.

One in three workers pays no income tax and has no pension, according to the Fiscal Council, a Romanian watchdog set up under the IMF deals.

“It was the only job I could find,” says one of those, a vendor at the Bucharest market. He earns 1,000 lei ($290) cash a month – just above the minimum wage – and has no job security.

“If I complain, I’m afraid my boss would replace me.”

Tax evasion in Romania amounted to 16.2 percent of GDP last year, about 22 billion euros ($28 billion), almost doubling from 9.1 percent in 2000, the Fiscal Council estimated.

That eats into government revenues, pushing successive administrations to squeeze honest workers and businesses with new taxes to fill the gap, and leaving little cash to invest in a country with the worst motorway infrastructure in Europe and where 40 percent of households do not have indoor bathrooms.

“We continue to see a very high level of tax evasion from certain private companies … They distort competition,” said Mihai Bogza, the head of Romania’s foreign investors’ council, , whose members account for two-thirds of all foreign investment in the country.

“Taxes not collected from these companies will ultimately be raised by hiking taxes for contributors in good standing.”

That situation could worsen after a presidential election that runs from Sunday to Nov. 16.

The leftist prime minister and front-runner, Victor Ponta, has announced tax cuts and a list of spending pledges in the run up to the poll, without spelling out how they would be paid for.

Ponta has already cut value added tax on certain foods, such as bread, reduced social security tax, reversed wage cuts introduced by his predecessor and has promised to hike the minimum wage from next year.

If he wins the election, his Social Democrat Party would have a greater hold on power, without the brake often applied by his bitter rival, outgoing President Traian Basescu.

And, on top of that, under an EU fiscal treaty, Romania must lower its budget deficit next year to 1.4 percent of GDP from this year’s 2.2 percent target, which means raising taxes, cutting spending or chasing the tax dodgers.

HARD TO PAY

Tax evasion goes far beyond small traders.

Eight soccer club owners and officials, including a former deputy prime minister, were jailed this year for corruption and tax dodging. Anti-corruption prosecutors are investigating several members of parliament.

Bad behavior by the rich and powerful is hardly an encouragement for the average Romanian to pay up, but even if they want to, the system does not make it easy, with long queues at tax offices and time-consuming bureaucracy.

“It’s hard to pay taxes here; it took so many papers and trips to register and it’s not like others are paying,” said one building contractor, who used to work in Spain. He advertises by posting flyers in mailboxes and pays two workers off the books.

Romania has started tackling the problem. The World Bank is helping its tax authority adopt processes that should see collection rise by at least three percentage points in relation to GDP by 2018, according to Alberto Leyton, a public sector expert at the World Bank.

The authority has merged tax collection and customs offices. In 2014, the government scrapped or merged 92 tax payments, to reduce bureaucracy. The finance ministry has passed legislation to cap cash payments in an economy where few people use credit cards and is working on enabling taxes to be paid online.

But the lack of predictable fiscal policies and the risk of sudden tax changes could remain a deterrent for investment.

“When I talk to British companies working in Romania, they often raise the unpredictability of the legislative and fiscal environment, particularly due to the widespread use of emergency ordinances,” said British Ambassador Paul Brummell.

“British businesses tell me that they would be more likely to invest if the legislative environment were more stable.”

ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom Explore New Prospect Offshore Romania

BUCHAREST–ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom (SNP.RO) Monday said they are drilling an exploration well on a new prospect about 155 kilometers offshore in the Romanian sector of the Black Sea, news agency Mediafax reported.

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania Ltd., the Romanian unit of the U.S. oil giant, and OMV Petrom, the largest oil and gas company in Romania, have started drilling the Pelican South-1 exploration well on a new prospect in the Neptun Block, the companies said in a statement.

The well will test a new geological structure on the Neptun Block. Earlier in October, the Ocean Endeavour rig completed drilling of the Domino-2 well and data from the well are being evaluated, the statement said.

In February 2012, ExxonMobil and Petrom announced the discovery of a natural gas field estimated at 42-84 billion cubic meters following the drilling of a first well in the block.

ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania and OMV Petrom each hold 50% of the deepwater sector of the Neptun Block.

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