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2023 should see Romania into the Schengen space, says head of state Klaus Iohannis
Speaking on Tuesday to ambassadors in Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis said that Romania preserves its foreign policy coordinates in 2023, mainly to strengthen Romania's place and role in NATO and the EU, at the same time fortifying its strategic alliance with the US. The head of state specified that Romania will continue supporting the consolidation of NATO's eastern flank, promoting the strategic importance of the Black Sea, and the open door policy of the alliance. He said that major diplomatic resources would be reallocated to including Romania into the Schengen space, while at the same time maintaining support for neighboring Ukraine. Speaking about the free circulation space, the president recalled the success of lifting the monitoring mechanism in 2022, with a view to Schengen inclusion. This is considering that Romania has met all criteria, underlined in a telephone conversation that Iohannis had with the Bulgarian president, focusing on the two states entering the free circulation zone, overcoming the block issued by Austria and the Netherlands in December 2022. The two leaders reiterated their firm commitment to close cooperation for reaching this aim during this year. The Romanian president also had a phone conversation with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander van der Bellen. The former expressed gratitude for the latter's support in joining Schengen, saying that the many messages on the political, economic, and social sides from Austria were clear signs that Romania's place is in Schengen. President Iohannis decided to send once again to Vienna Ambassador Emil Hurezeanu, who was recalled to Bucharest after Austria vetoed Romania's joining Schengen.
Romania takes over OSCE presidency
Romania has taken over the presidency of the Security Committee of the OSCE, one of the main organisms within this organization, holding it during 2023. Among the attributions of the committee are discussing non-military issues and security policy. Romania will be supporting the OSCE in reaching its aims in terms of human trafficking, border management, and the fight against terrorism. This mandate is a recognition of Romania's active role within the organization in supporting its fundamental principles of assuring peace, security, and cooperation in Europe, as stated by Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. Romania has formerly held the presidency of the security committee in 2015 and 2016.
AWACS surveillance over Romania
On Tuesday, as a first, NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft landed in Romania. These airborne warning and control systems will be running in the country missions of surveillance and monitoring the eastern airspace of the Atlantic alliance. Since the invasion of Ukraine, they have been running constant patrols in Eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea region in order to monitor Russian air operations. Three of these aircraft have been deployed at the Otopeni airbase, right north of Bucharest, along with 180 military air force personnel and pilots. This is a multiple week operation for these unarmed airborne control centers. The Boeing 707 based aircraft have a wide range of radar and electronic surveillance capabilities, able to pinpoint and identify flying objects at ranges of over 400 km.
The flu season in Romania may extend to spring
Experts say that the flu season this year in Romania may extend to the spring season, and so they recommend continued vaccination. This can be done in almost 100 local pharmacies all over the country, licensed by the Ministry of Health as part of a pilot project. The most recent data shows that the number of respiratory infections is rising. Last week almost 140,000 cases have been recorded, over a third more than last week, and almost double against the period before the pandemic. Physicians have confirmed cases of several respiratory ailments at once, including the flu and coronavirus. In this epidemic context, Romania called on the EC to temporarily lift the ban on distribution outside the country of certain pills, such as antibiotics and fever control drugs. The Romanian authorities say that the measure does not affect the export of drugs manufactured by domestic producers. The application was made in order to avoid a crisis in the supply of medical drugs in Romania, since these are in short supply in several European countries.
Historic temperature day in Romania
The first days of 2023 came with extremely high temperatures in many areas. Experts announced that a new record high temperature was registered in Turnu Magurele, 22.4 degrees Celsius, making January 18 the hottest day in the history of weather measurements. These unseasonably high temperatures are also taking a high toll on farmers. A drought is expected later in the year in the south of the country, while in the north there is a risk for fruit trees to bloom and then freeze, compromising the crop of fruits for the entire year.
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