(Brussels) The future of Europe will now depend “to a large degree” on Romania. The president of the European Council, Polish Donald Tusk, said this at the opening ceremony in Bucharest of the six-month presidency of the EU’s Council of ministers that will be held by Romania until 30 June. All Romanian political leaders were present at the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest alongside representatives of the EU institutions. Outside, demonstrations were taking place against the government, as has been the case in the past few months, which is accused of corruption and of pushing a judicial reform in an attempt to control judges. And the lawsuit filed with the European Court of Justice by the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party and president of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, against the European Commission in connection with a case of fraud raised by the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF is also causing much controversy these days.
In his speech, President Tusk cited Romanian poets, scholars and sport personalities (including Eugen Ionescu, Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Tristan Tzara, Nadia Comaneci, Simona Halep, Helmuth Duckadam), and spoke of his attachment and cultural debt to the country. He spoke of an “energetic presidency” called to address many current challenges, from Brexit to the multiannual budget, to the European elections on 23-26 May. “To those working hard – he said – to defend European values, our freedoms and rights, I say: keep fighting”.