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News 01 Dec 17

Romania Activists Plan Protests on National Day

As Romania's authorities plan to mark the national day with military parades on Friday, anti-corruption protesters intend to make their continuing discontent heard loud and clear. 

Ana Maria Luca
BIRN
Bucharest
Preparations for the December 1 military parade in Bucharest. Photo: Alexandra Pandrea/INquam Photos

Romanian activists braced on Friday for renewed anti-corruption protests, as authorities readied to mark the country’s national day with military parades in several cities.

Three different protests were announced on social media in Bucharest, two scheduled to take place during the military parade, with activists demanding that politicians sentenced for corruption should be banned from the event organized by the Ministry of Defence and the presidency.

“We’re demanding our country back! #nextlevel,” activists calling for a protest at 9am at Bucharest’s Arch of Triumph said on Facebook.

“It’s time to honour our heroes. To remember the sacrifices of our soldiers. To honour, once more, as we did every night we took to the streets, the flag of this nation and its importance in history and this country’s conscience. It’s December 1, our national day. We don’t want to be ruled by thieves,” the message added.

Another protest was scheduled for 10am under the slogan “Bucharest: No criminal politicians at the military parade.”

“We don’t want politicians investigated for corruption to take part in the military parade on Romania’s national day in Bucharest! We do not accept you on this special day for Romania! You will be booed by Romanians who work for the country! You robbed and destroyed the country! You will pay for this!” activists declared in a Facebook post.

A third protest is scheduled for Friday evening in front of the government headquarters under the slogan “Romania is dying.”

The military parade in Bucharest is scheduled to start at 10am Bucharest time, with both President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Mihai Tudose present.

The two leaders of the government coalition, the President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, also the leader of the ruling Social Democrats, and Senate speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, leader of the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, announced last week that they had refused the President’s invitation and would attend a different ceremony in Aba Iulia. However, on November 29 they announced they wouldn’t be participating in events in Alba Iulia either, after anti-corruption protests were announced in town.

Both Dragnea and Tariceanu are on trial in corruption-related cases.

Romania on December 1 marks the 99th anniversary of the "Great Union", when Romanians gathered in Alba Iulia, Transylvania, to vote a resolution to unite the former Austro-Hungarian province with Romania.

The government in Bucharest has also officially launched its Romania 100 project on Sunday, a series of events, monuments and cultural festivals scheduled to take place over the next year to mark the centennial of the Great Union.

The celebrations have caused friction with the Hungarian government and caused some anxiety in the ethnic Hungarian community in Romania.

“2018 in coming and it will not spare us,” the head of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, Kelemen Hunor, told a party gathering on Saturday. “There are many anti-Hungarian and ultranationalist manifestations [planned]," he added.

"We have to ask ourselves – what changed in our country after 100 years, what’s better and what is worse? If keeping our identity, out community’s identity is safe ... I see a common future, a future we can build together here, in Romania and Transylvania.”

In 2016, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry barred diplomats from participating in events on Romania’s national day, which for Hungary still has negative connotations.

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