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Romanian report Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-03-31 09:21:44
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Economy bottoms but only gradual recovery seen

Following several years of rapid growth, the Romanian economy entered recession in 2008 as a result of the global economic crisis. While most of the economies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) showed initial signs of recovery towards the end of 2009 and rebounded to varying degrees in 2010, the Romanian economy continued to contract this past year. We predict that Romania's GDP will grow in 2011, marking the economy's first growth following the crisis.

"In CEE, the Romanian economy was definitely one of the most affected by the global economic crisis. However, the decline in Romania's GDP appears to have bottomed out in 2010, when it fell 1.3%," says Peter Brezinschek, head of Raiffeisen Research.

Brezinschek predicts a gradual recovery in the country's economic activity over the course of the current year, with increasing external demand continuing to bolster export volumes and contributing to overall GDP growth of 1.5% in 2011. Romania's GDP growth rates in the years ahead will come in below the levels recorded between 2000 and 2008, reflecting the fact that foreign capital inflows will be lower. Raiffeisen estimates that the CEE region's average GDP growth rate was 3.1% in 2010 and forecasts it to rise to 3.7% in 2011.


Environment often seen as minor subject

Protecting the environment is often perceived as a minor subject in Romania and is not considered a priority by the authorities, the Soros Foundation deplored Wednesday in a report. "The environment is often perceived as a subject of minor importance in Romania though it is one of the major issue of European policies", the report called "Politics and Environmental Rights" underlines. According to the research carried out by Catalina Radulescu, a lawyer specialising in environmental law, the former communist country adopted several packages of laws in this field when it entered the European Union in 2007.

"However, implementing these laws is very difficult because of the instability in public administration", she stresses. "Problems arise with central authorities as well as with local authorities," she adds, criticizing the "lack of interest of the administration" in reaching the goals of a sustainable development strategy. "There are many violations of the environmental legislation in Romania", the head of the national environmental protection agency, Silvian Ionescu, admitted after the presentation of the report.

"But we managed to increase the number of inspections from 40,000 in 2009 to 60,000 in 2010 with only five percent extra personnel", he added. Ionescu deplored that in 2010 judges preferred to give a simple warning in about half of the cases for which the environmental inspectors had deemed it necessary to impose a fine.


Newspapers hacked by nationalists

The website of right-wing newspaper Magyar Hírlap was attacked last week by hackers who uploaded Romanian nationalist material. The paper’s deputy editor said staff was appalled at the anti-Hungarian bile that appeared on the paper’s homepage on the morning of Sunday, 20 March. “Particularly stomach-churning were references to the death of (murdered Romanian handball star) Marian Cozma, particularly given that the tragedy brought Hungarians and Romanians closer together,” deputy editor László Szentesi Zöldi told state news agency MTI.

The hackers’ message included the words: “You are mistaken if you think the blow you gave to Romania’s history and people will not be returned.” The cyber attack came in the wake of a demonstration on 15 March by ethnic Hungarian nationalists in the Romanian town of Miercurea-Ciuc (known to its majority Hungarian population as Csíkszereda). A new group calling itself the Székely Gárda (Székely Guard) hanged an effigy of Romanian national hero Avram Iancu and posted the video on YouTube.

The chair of parliament’s national security committee, Ágnes Vadai, said there would be no immediate investigation into the Hírlap attack, despite calls from the paper. “I do not feel there are professional grounds,” Vadai said last Thursday. “If someone feels that a crime has been committed against them they should make a report to the police.” News website index.hu reported that the culprits may also have been behind similar recent cyber attacks on the websites of  RAI, La Stampa and Corriere della Sera in Italy and the French newspaper Le Monde. The same hackers, calling themselves “Romanian National Security”, posted material on the website of the UK’s Daily Telegraph last April, apparently aggrieved at the conservative paper’s identification of Romanians with gypsies. The Budapest Times’ website (above) was hacked by the same group last Monday. The webmaster said the attack was unsophisticated and was able to restore service within a couple minutes.

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