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Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2016-08-18 11:29:52
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Royal funeral for Romania's uncrowned Queen Anne

romania_400_01A royal funeral takes place in central Romania on Saturday for a queen who was never crowned and never served and yet still commands full state honours. Anne of Romania will be buried at Curtea de Arges. A day of mourning has been declared in both Romania and Moldova, and flags will fly at half-mast. She died in hospital in Switzerland on 1 August, aged 92. In the past days, President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, Moldova's President Nicolae Timofti, many other statesmen and thousands of well-wishers, have paid their respects, as her coffin lay in state at Peles Castle at Sinaia and at the Royal Palace in Bucharest. Her husband, former King Michael, now 95, and five daughters survive her. Michael will remain in Switzerland and miss the funeral, due to his frail health. It seems hard to believe that democratic Romania is going to so much trouble over a royal family that was only created in 1866, after the end of Ottoman rule, and then forced into exile in 1947.

Anne barely spoke Romanian, preferring her native French, and in a sense could hardly be called a queen, as she married the king after he lost his throne. The answers lie in the extraordinary popularity of the royal couple among Romanians, and the careful diplomacy of the former king, queen, and their daughters since they were allowed back to Romania. Although there is little prospect of restoration of the monarchy, polls suggest the royal family is the most trusted institution in Romania. Anne always looked after her guests. She opened the door of the house when I came to interview her husband at their home in exile near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2011. As we spoke, she arranged the tea and biscuits, and corrected her husband when his memory faltered. An earlier guest, Christian Mititelu, then head of the BBC's Romanian Service, remembers her arriving on her bicycle at the royal guest house, to bring fresh croissants in the morning. Princess Anne Antoinette Francoise Charlotte of Bourbon-Parma was born in Paris in 1923, grew up in Denmark and fled to New York when the Nazis occupied her homeland. She worked as a nurse with the Free French forces in North Africa, Italy and France, then met King Michael at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in London in November 1947.

When Michael returned to Romania a month later (against the advice of Winston Churchill) to announce his engagement to her, the Communist authorities forced him to abdicate at gunpoint. The couple were married in Athens in June 1948 and began a long and happy life in exile together. They were allowed back into Romania only after the fall of communism. In the chaos after the popular revolution of December 1989, even the restoration of the monarchy seemed possible. Michael tried to visit in 1990, but was expelled by police. Allowed into the country for three days at Easter 1992, more than a million people turned out to see him. Frightened by such enthusiasm, Socialist President Ion Iliescu banned any further visits. Later the same year, a meeting of his supporters tried to encourage Michael to reclaim his throne. He listened, but said little. The next President, Emil Constantinescu (1996-2000), restored their Romanian citizenship, but did little to promote a restoration of the monarchy. Ion Iliescu, back in power from 2000 to 2004, finally allowed the family to live in Romania and reclaim several properties.


Romania has exported weaponry and military equipment worth EUR 38 mln

Romania has exported weaponry and military equipment of EUR 38 mln in Q1 2016, the main destination being US (approximately EUR 9 million), according to the data of Exports Control Department (ANCEX) within the Ministry of External Affairs. The ANCEX report on the first three months of 2016 shows that Romania exported weaponry and military equipment valued at EUR 38 million, out of which exports to US were EUR 19 million: 1,900 semi-automatized rifles, 500 guns, 300 soft choppers, 4,500 assault rifles, 100 choppers of 12.7 millimetres calibre.

Moreover, Israel has imported weaponry in Romania valued at over EUR 4 million in the same period, comprising various components for field military vehicles and for aircrafts. Morocco imported a military helicopter from Romania which needed an overhaul of approximately EUR 2.4 million.

Within the top countries that imported Romanian military products in the first months of the year are India (EUR 2 million), Bulgaria (EUR 1.7 million), Italy (EUR 1.2 million) and UK (EUR 1 million). Romania had also three intermediary operations between South Africa and Azerbaijan (six equipment for military aircrafts), Czech Republic and Mozambique (18 products for training military airplane) and India and Mozambique (10 equipment for military fight airplane).


Romania opens probe against journalists over TV report

Romanian authorities said Wednesday they had launched a probe against three journalists of British TV channel Sky News for allegedly "disseminating false information" in a disputed report on illegal arms trafficking. Prosecutors accuse the journalists of paying three Romanian nationals to pose as gun dealers selling weapons to Islamist terrorists – allegations firmly denied by Sky News. "We have launched proceedings against three British journalists including the report's chief correspondent" Stuart Ramsay, the spokeswoman for Romania's organised crime investigation unit (DIICOT), Mihaela Porime, told AFP. She said British authorities were set to quiz the journalists who would also face "a series of questions put forward by DIICOT" as part of the inquiry. Sky News said last week it "fully stands" by the report, which was broadcast on Aug. 7 and is still up on the channel's website.

The investigation by Ramsay and his team focused on networks of gangs trading in vast supplies of military-grade arms in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. In the report, two men with covered faces showed the TV crew a number of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, in a remote area of EU member Romania. They boasted of being able to supply thousands of guns from Ukraine, plus ammunition. "We bring them from Ukraine with the ammunition, as much as you want," Sky News quoted one of the men as saying. "If you have the money, I don't care who you are. I sell to anyone." After seeing the report, Romanian authorities opened an investigation and eventually detained the three alleged arms dealers.  One of them told investigators he and his friends were given a script, told to wear balaclavas and offered cash to be in the report.

"The British journalists offered to defendant Szanto Aurelian-Mihai 2,000 euros ($2,250) in exchange for the 'journalistic investigation'. He took 1,000 euros, while the remaining amount ... was to be divided between the defendants Pantics Attila-Csaba and Pantics Levente," DIICOT said in a statement last week. Investigators also said the guns had been recovered and were legally owned by one of the three Romanians, a member of a hunting association. The Romanians have been remanded in custody pending trial and face up to five years in prison if found guilty of spreading false information. The report sparked strong criticism from Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos last week who said it "denigrated" his country "without proof."


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