Romanian Future Taking Shape: Equal Political Treatment and Military Involvement

Romania, 19 Jun - 16 Jul 2016
Former PM Ponta, accused of plagiarism, has doctor’s title withdrawn ++ NATO Summit brings changes for Romania’s international military involvement ++ Rio Summer Olympics 2016: Gymnast Cătălina Ponor flag bearer for Romania. by Alina Agafiţei
Former PM Ponta, accused of plagiarism, has doctor’s title withdrawn

On July 8th, the Romanian Minister for Education, Mircea Dumitru, gave a public statement which contained details about the former social democratic prime minister Victor Ponta’s doctoral thesis plagiarism enquiry. Although the plagiarism scandal began shortly after Ponta’s investment in June 2012, the final verdict of the former PM’s doctoral thesis was only now announced by the National Board responsible for Titles, Diplomas and Certificates’ Confirmation (CNATDCU). The conclusion: plagiarism without a doubt. According to Viorel Barbu, President of the General Council of CNATDCU, the commission concluded that a third of the paper’s content was plagiarized. This comes as a cherry on top of his rocky road whilst Prime Minister.

Victor Ponta reacted quickly: with an ironic tone, he stated: “I understand that now (after this great victory) everything will be ok – from today the budget incomes will increase, the deficit will be reduced. I am honored by the effort made especially for me by the large government of technocrats. From now on, I will be in charge of a new doctor’s thesis, with the subject 'The Fabulous Technocrat Governance and its great realizations for the Romanian people' – that will be fun”. The former head of government has the right to submit a challenge to the ruling within ten days, which would send the case for reanalysis. Failure to do so would imply that the CNATDCU will pass the resolution to withdraw his doctor’s title to the Education Ministry.

After the CNATDCU decision, nine people who obtained their doctor’s title at the National Academy of Information “Mihai Viteazu” voluntarily renounces their titles. Among them was Radu Stroe, former Interior Minister. Most of them had Gabriel Oprea, another former Minister for Internal Affairs, as coordinator for their theses. It appears that 13 years after Ponta obtained his doctor’s title, with former Prime Minister and convict Adrian Năstase (sentenced to prison for bribery and money laundering) as his paper coordinator, a light will be shed on the Romanian educational system, and with Ministers such as Mircea Dumitru in charge, the small steps towards the much needed educational reform may follow the right path.

NATO Summit brings changes for Romania’s international military involvement

Following the Brexit vote spotlight, another event would detour the international attention: the 2016 NATO Summit held in Warsaw, Poland, on the 8th and 9th of July.

When it comes to Romania’s visibility and implication, its role is an important one for the Black Sea region. Romania was represented by President Klaus Iohannis (Independent), followed on the initiatives presented a month ago during an official visit to Sofia, Bulgaria – signing an agreement to create a NATO Black Sea fleet. This fleet would have been the result of collaboration between Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. Now, in Warsaw, the last point on the Romanian agenda was the hosting and guidance of a multinational brigade. Formed by 5,000 NATO soldiers, they are to be relocated to Romania for training with half of the numbers to be provided by the Romanian military. The brigade is to ensure what Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, sought – the military presence on the Eastern flank of the Alliance. The Multinational Division Southeast will have its headquarters in Bucharest.

Even though the political analysts claim that the results of this Summit were modest for Romania, from October the military involvement of the country at the international security would increase considerably through the Multinational Southeast Division. It remains to be seen how Romania will rise up to the task it so eagerly sought and how the upcoming developments will shape the NATO Alliance – most recently following the developments in Turkey, and the not so distant US presidential elections in November.

Rio Summer Olympics 2016: Gymnast Cătălina Ponor flag bearer for Romania

2016 will see, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the 31st edition of the Modern Summer Olympic Games. Recently, a decision that caused quite a stir in Romania ahead of the events was the choosing of Cătălina Ponor as flag bearer for the country. Cătălina Ponor is a gymnast who represented Romania at various international competitions, obtaining titles for single performance but also for team acknowledgement. She is at her third participation in the Olympics, returning after the Athens and London competitions in 2004 and 2012 respectively. She has five Olympic medals, three gold, one silver and one bronze.

The honour of bearing the flag for Romania was previously bestowed on figures such as Horia Tecău (tennis player, former men’s doubles Wimbledon champion) and Valeria Beșe (a handball player). Even though Romanian tennis is on the rise and players such as world class player Simona Halep are continuously putting Romania on the map, Ponor remained the top choice of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee (COSR). Questioned on her take on the decision, Halep stated that she was a little surprised, because she was not aware of Ponor’s nomination. Marian Drăgulescu (gymnast) wrote on his Facebook page that in spite of the controversy and recognition that the Halep name brings to the game and the sports field, she has a long way to go until being able to claim flag bearer role.

A participant nation since 1936, Romania will send a delegation of about 100 athletes to the Summer Olympics 2016, coming from 15 different sports.

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