• AGERPRES Director General Giboi nominated by six European agencies to run for EANA Secretary General

    AGERPRES Director General Alexandru Giboi was nominated as candidate for the Secretary General position of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA).

    According to the EANA statutes, in order to become a candidate for this position, the nomination of at least three member agencies is needed and Alexandru Giboi was nominated by the following agencies: BTA (Bulgaria), CNA (Cyprus), ANA-MPA (Greece), ATA (Albania), FENA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), TASR (Slovakia), alongside AGERPRES Romanian National News Agency.

    Currently, Alexandru Giboi is a member in the EANA Board, elected in September 2015, but he also holds the Secretary General position of the Association of the Balkan News Agencies – Southeast Europe (ABNA), being elected for a second mandate in September 2016.

    This autumn’s elections will take place after the current Secretary General completes his mandate, namely Erik Nylen, who is a mass-media expert with a vast experience. Prior to taking over the Secretary General position of the EANA, he also was CEO of Sweden’s TT News Agency.

    Also running for the Secretary General position of the EANA is Poland’s Lidia Sobanska, who is endorsed by three news agencies.

    For the first time in the EANA history, the Spring Conference of the Alliance will take place in Bucharest, in April 2018, at the invitation of AGERPRES Romanian National News Agency. More…

  • #GreaterUnionCentennial – Ivascu: Centennial must be moment of national awakening and rebirth

    The anniversary of the Centennial must be a moment of “national awakening and rebirth,” of changing attitudes and mentality in addressing the fundamental problems of the nation, for the benefit of the present, but especially of the future, Minister of Culture and National Identity George Ivascu said on Thursday evening at the “Romania at the Centennial” debate, organized by the Presidential Administration.

    Ivascu also said that “we will celebrate some golden data this year. In the sound of the celebrations, the most significant sound signal we can give is a minute of silence, not just to recall the total sacrifice of the Romanians from a hundred years ago, but also a moment of silence in which everyone can ask themselves how they can contribute, not with big words, but with modest deeds, every day, so that my Romania can become our Romania,” he said.

    “This year, unique for Romania, we commemorate those who, a hundred years ago, succeeded in realizing a seemingly impossible dream: the unification of all Romanians. (…) The miracle of union was not done under easy conditions. They succeeded because they acted together. Honouring forerunners is beautiful, but not enough, because the inheritance they left us is not just a gift but also a duty. To pay homage to the forerunners means, first of all, to celebrate their spirit. They shared one thing: they all wanted a united and democratic Romania,” he said. More…

  • #RomaniaPremianta First visually-impaired judoka in Romania international medallist, stand-out student at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj

    The first visually-impaired judoka in Romania, Alexandru Bologa, who won the bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games in the autumn of 2016, and last year’s gold medal at the European Championships for visually-impaired, is at the same time a student at Special Psychopedagogy at the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj.

    Alexandru is a member of the University CSM Cluj-Napoca Club and is in a moment of full sporting ascension, aiming at the gold medal in the next year’s world championships but, at the same time, he wants to use his tatami experience to promote sport among people with disabilities because he thinks he can understand them better than other people.

    He chose to study psychology precisely because of the emotions he had before the competitions, and the years spent in the faculty gave him new ideas.

    “When I got to the stage of graduation and I had to choose what to do next after the Baccalaureate, I thought …. because during my matches I was very nervous and I often did not manage to master my emotions … I thought about how to turn them into constructive emotions. I chose to study at the psychology faculty specializing in special psychopedagogy, because I thought that after I finish I will understand more,” says the young judoka.

    Maybe because of the success he has had, but also of the luck to have met coaches who had the patience to support him in his sporting life, Alex is fighting not only in competitions but also in society to make people understand that sport and disabilities are not always incompatible.

    His coach, Tamas Gergely, thinks he has discovered the secret of his young judoka, which may be due to his special condition.

    “I’m fascinated by the idea of working with him, I do it out of pleasure, and I have no other benefit than feeling very, very good. He learns very quickly. If we learn a new technique, he has the ability to learn it so well, he makes his movements mentally in such a way that in the next training session you say that he has known that technique for two or three years,” says the coach. More…

  • INTERVIEW/Romania’s Ambassador to UN: Here it is hard to play differently than with cards on table; transparency is essential

    The presence of a country, Romania included, in the UN Security Council provides visibility and enhances the capacity of a country of radiating influence in its adjacent geographic area, Romania’s Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ion Jinga, told AGERPRES in an interview.

    According to the Ambassador, for a state to be elected non-permanent member in the Security Council, a well coagulated strategy, a united team and much transparency are needed.

    Ion Jinga showed that Romania is a candidate for a position of non-permanent member in the Security Council, for a two-year mandate, in the period 2020-2021, with elections in 2019, most likely in June 2019.

    Jinga also explained that the migration issue must be dealt with at the source: “In order not to have refugees, we must solve the conflict problem in the countries where the refugees come from, solve the development problem, and here we automatically hit the poverty issue.”

    AGERPRES: You have been elected co-chair of the intergovernmental negotiation process on the reform of the Security Council. What does this position mean for Romania and for the UN?

    Ion Jinga: We are talking about a process that began in 1992, when the first more serious talks emerged concerning the need for adjustment, the Security Council reform, in terms of working methods, but, in the first place, in terms of its numeric increase. There was even a resolution around 1993, there was a resolution draft, which didn’t manage to pass for reasons related to different positions, sometimes diverging, of the member states. The matter became topical again in 1998, then in 2005 there was another impetus with a few series of projects in this respect.

    In short, it is a project going on for about 25 years. At some point an open working group was created to think the reform of the Security Council, a conclusion was reached subsequently and a resolution of the UN General Assembly was adopted in this respect, on the creation of a forum devoted to negotiating the Security Council reform. This forum is called “The intergovernmental negotiations process on the Security Council reform” and is headed by one or two representatives appointed by the UN General Assembly President.

    Furthermore, many times, the one directly running this process was the General Assembly President himself. This year, for the 71st session of the General Assembly, the President decided to appoint two co-chairs. These appointments are made having persons in mind, they are not based on geographic location, or the regional balance, there are people whom the General Assembly President chooses because he believes the persons in question could contribute to the advance of the process.

    In the current situation, there are Romania’s Ambassador and Tunisia’s Ambassador, therefore two co-chairs coming from two different geographic and culture areas, which ensures a good complementarity and I believe that at the moment the process is in a stage of going from discussions, from position presentation, to something more concrete.

    In its current form, the Security Council was conceived 71 years ago, when the UN was established and since then it underwent one single modification or major reform, in 1965, when the number of non-permanent members increased from 6 to 10, and the number of permanent members remained unchanged.

    Currently we have 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members, therefore a Security Council with 15 members. Well, in 1945 when the UN was created, it numbered 50 members. Today, we are talking about 193, we are talking about other geopolitical realities and there is a considerable pressure for adjustment, for adaptation, as there are also certain reserves.

    Especially because we have to do with a wide variety of positions and interests which do not only regards the positioning of the great players, of the global players if you wish, but also of the various groups of interest, regional groups. It is a highly complex process.

    In the end, there is a series of positions which, at first glance, seem irreconcilable, each one speaks of the desire to advance the process, but when we reach the stage of a compromise option, there is the trend of each one saying they have already made compromises and that it is the others’ turn. The role of the two co-chairs now would be to find an innovative method, a formula accommodating the great interests.

    I have told you a very tough reality. There are talks, there are negotiations having lasted for a very long time. Now we are in the stage of consultations with the main groups, with the main players. And, little by little, we are trying to reveal what would unite us and set us at the same table, so we can leave aside the divergence points.

    It is not easy at all, there are great expectations, there are high pressures, but there are pressures on various trends. What we are trying to do now is identify a possible road map, an action plan for the next eight months until the end of July 2017 and, to the extent to which the discussions and negotiations in the plenary sitting allow it, to come up with a possible concrete solution, allowing the continuation of the process. However, I don’t think we can speak of completing this process within one year, after it has dragged on for 25 years.

    There is, still, a great expectation horizon and, I would say that through this position occupied by Romania’s Representative to the UN, in New York, we bring a plus of visibility, of weight specific to Romania inside the United Nations, a plus of notoriety, which can at some point translate to support, alliances, in formulas allowing the further consolidation of Romania’s presence at the UN.

    AGERPRES: Is there an unanimously accepted direction in respect to the Security Council reform?

    Ion Jinga: There are five major topics at present on the agenda of these negotiations. We are going from the relation between the Security Council and the General Assembly, the Security Council dimension and working methods, going through the geographic representation in the Security Council, the member categories, we are talking about permanent and non-permanent members and the veto right. Of course the most contentious are those related to the member categories and the veto right, which the five permanent members have now.

    Some progress was made in respect to the cooperation between the Security Council and the General Assembly, a few aspects were approached in terms of the Security Council working methods, and somehow its possible dimension. It is a breadth accepted by somewhere around 21 and 26-27 members.

    Also left to be seen is which is the feasible formula, from a practical viewpoint. There is a high number of countries, over 80, which have pronounced in favour of including the fact that non-permanent members, those who are elected for two years, should exercise at least once during a two-year mandate the presidency of the Security Council.

    This presidency changes each month, which means that in 24 months, in two years, each non-permanent member should hold this highly prestigious position once. Here we reach right away the numeric dimension of the Security Council. How many members would allow this rotation to be done? What stratagems or intermediary formulas could be identified?

    When we reach the veto right, which is probably the most sensitive side of this process, there are countries that say the veto right should be dropped for everyone. I wouldn’t comment on how feasible such an alternative is.

    Others say that, if the veto right is not dropped, then the new permanent members should also have the veto right, and here we talk if new permanent members are to be admitted, how many and, if an enlargement of the veto right is reached, how many countries will have the veto right, because we imagine how a Security Council would look like with 10-12 countries having the veto right.

    There are other trends talking about the voluntary limitation of the veto right in the context in which the Security Council agenda includes matters regarding genocide, atrocities, mass crimes.

    At the same time, if we speak of the member categories, there is a strong trend of supporting the enlargement of the Security Council, with both member categories, permanent and non-permanent.

    But there are others who say “no, democratic would be to elect members in the Security Council, not only non-permanent members.” There is also an intermediary option, which speaks of a transition period, with extended mandates, which can be from four to eight years, with the re-election option. All alternatives have tackled keeping or dropping the veto right.

    Then there are talks on observing a regional balance. For instance, Africa has no permanent member. Africa is a continent with 54 countries and for the entire African continent there are only three non-permanent members in the Security Council. Here, in the African continent, we include the Arab countries. Our African friends speak of historic injustice, because they haven’t received a higher representation in the Security Council. It is left to be seen to what extent this is accepted on the level of all the 193 countries.

    On the other hand, the affiliation to the Security Council entails in the first place not rights, but obligations. It is the capacity of the respective countries to contribute to promoting peace and security on a global level. This is the role of the Security Council. It is the guarantor of peace and security. The member countries in the Security Council are countries capable to secure peace, not only on their territory, but also in adjacent areas and on a global level. And the permanent members are, at the same time, great contributors to the United Nations budget, in terms of assistance for development, in the peace keeping missions.

    We are talking about an extremely complex process, where each elements, each detail can be essential and where the balance is the key word.

    I told you all this to clarify why this process is so important and why it can be important for Romania too. Beyond visibility, beyond the standing such a position can confer you, in the end, for instance if in an expanded formula of the Security Council, the Eastern European Group, which Romania is also part of, received an additional seat as non-permanent member, the period in which Romania and other countries in its geographical group could accede as non-permanent member would be reduced to half. The presence of a country in the Security Council represents a pinnacle, a top achievement in the respective country’s foreign policy.

    AGERPRES: So Romania should set itself as a goal participating in the Security Council?

    Ion Jinga: As a co-chair, I cannot represent Romania’s position, my role is that of an honest broker, a person capable to build consensus. For this you need the trust of the member countries and you cannot win it if you promote the national interest. We are talking about a construction, not a particular interest.

    Returning to your question, I think that the presence of a country, Romania included, in the Security Council, provides visibility, specific global weight, it provides the ability to radiate influence in the contiguous geographic area and beyond. To a country like Romania, it provides for instance a strengthened profile inside the European Union, it would raise our prestige, our influence in the geographic area we belong to or we are a neighbor to. I think not only about the EU but also about the Balkan region, the extended Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. On the other hand, I think of countries where Romania is present in peacekeeping missions.

    And Romania candidates for non-permanent membership of the Security Council for a two-year term between 2020-2021, with elections due in 2019, most likely in June 2019.

    AGERPRES: Practically, almost concomitantly with the time when Romania will hold the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

    Ion Jinga: Yes, you remarked this correctly. Romania will hold the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2019. Our term at the helm of the EU Council ends at the end of June. In the auspicious event that Romania gets this seat of non-permanent member of the Security Council, the moment when Romania’s term at the Presidency of the Council of the EU comes to end would coincide with elections to the Security Council. Just imagine what the seamless splicing together of a six-month term at European level with a two-year term at global level would mean for Romania and Romanian diplomacy. I think this would place Romania on an orbit of international influence with reverberations that could span a decade afterwards. More…

     

  • Ioan Opris, Georgeta Filitti and Vasile Parizescu, among ‘MNC 25 years’ anniversary gala laureates

    Professor Ioan Opris, PhD, historian Georgeta Filitti and president of the Society of Romanian Art Collectors Vasile Parizescu were among the laureates of the “MNC – 25 Years of Existence in Romanian Culture” anniversary gala, carried out on Wednesday evening at the National Cotroceni Museum.

    In her speech, the institution’s interim director general, Stefania Dinu, who has been working with the museum for 22 years, stressed the importance of the event, appreciating that the Cotroceni National Museum was created 25 years ago from an urgent need for change, its organisation and functioning highlighting the rigors of respecting modern museography.

    “Our events were varied, complex. Outstanding temporary exhibitions, with a valuable heritage, concerts, now already a tradition — our Easter and Christmas concerts, as well as book launchings, scientific colloquia, round tables, national and international debates, museum evening parties that enjoyed the presence of some great figures of the scientific and academic life, some internationally renowned opera singers,” Stefania Dinu underscored.

    Presidential advisor Sergiu Nistor sent a “word of respect and admiration” on behalf of the Presidential Administration, while professor Ioan Opris, PhD, founding director of the museum, evoked the early years of the institution, the manner in which, together with the team he headed, he “brought this place to life”, a place that has brought “joy, serenity and passion for beauty” to a devoted public.

    Among the recipients of an anniversary diploma and medal of the museum there were also: Secretaries of State with the Culture Ministry Alexandru Oprean and Irina Cajal Marin, National Village Museum Director Paulina Popoiu, Director of the National Museum of Romanian History Ernest Oberlander Tarnoveanu, National Archives Director Ioan Dragan, Archimandrite Priest Irineu Dogaru, Archimandrite Priest Policarp Chitulescu, PhD, Director of the Holy Synod’s Library, interim Director of the “Ion Dacian” National Operetta and Musical Theatre Bianca Ionescu, AGERPRES National News Agency Director General Alexandru Ioan Giboi, AGERPRES Deputy Director General Claudia Nicolae, journalists and museum employees.

    “Together with the Cotroceni National Museum we continue to promote cultural values; it is one of the strong points of the AGERPRES National News Agency. Everything local, national represents for AGERPRES a value that has been consecrated along the agency’s history,” Claudia Nicolae said.

    After the award ceremony of the anniversary medals and diplomas to the collaborators of museums and culture institutions, as well as mass-media partners of the Cotroceni National Museum, the “MNC — 25 Years of Existence in Romanian Culture” anniversary gala included the gala concert “A Winter’s Tale” featuring the soloists, choir and orchestra of the “Ion Dacian” National Operetta and Musical Theatre.

    The Cotroceni National Museum opened its gates 25 years ago, fully committed to the ideal of capitalizing on the history of the Cotroceni medieval and modern ensemble, illustrating the life and activity of Romanian landmark personalities whose name is connected to this place: Serban Cantacuzino, Constantin Brancoveanu, Barbu Stirbei, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth, King Ferdinand and Queen Mary, high-profile people who over time have crafted modern Romania and who gave Cotroceni back its former style and brilliance and, not in the last place, preserving and placing into the limelight a priceless heritage. More…

  • AGERPRES launches at the UN headquarters the first Facebook Messenger NewsBot in Romania

    Romanian National News Agency AGERPRES premiered on Wednesday, November 30, at the UN headquarters, in New York, the first Facebook Messenger NewsBot in Romania, AGERPRES NewsBot, as well as the “People of the Danube Delta, the realm between the waters” video documentary.

    Furthermore, the event included an exhibition of images from the AGERPRES Photography Archive. The Romanian National News Agency and the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations organized this event on the occasion of the National Day of Romania.

    “The photos chosen for our exhibit invite you to explore and better understand Romania and its people throughout their history and actions. The basis of this project is linked to the very ideal of the United Nations, as more we know about each other, the better are the premises of peaceful coexistence and working together for prosperity,” Romania’s Ambassador to the UN Ion Jinga said.

    In his turn, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson voiced his gratitude for AGERPRES’ contribution to promoting the importance of international cooperation:

    “We are very grateful for Romania’s and your own, and AGERPRES’ contributions to send the message that international cooperation and the United Nations are indispensible. […] I also think that… there is something that I have been very much impressed by the last five-ten years, and that is the power of the image. […] I see a person, Foreign Minister Manescu, who was one of my predecessors as President of the General Assembly, he was chairing the 22nd session, I was chairing the 60th, some years ago. And then there is the picture of a young man there studying something on the podium — that’s me, as President of the General Assembly, 2005, in front of the President of Romania. So, I’m very impressed by your research here.”, Jan Eliasson stated.

    AGERPRES Director General Alexandru Giboi took to the floor with a presentation starting from the past and looking towards the future.

    “As you can see, we have Romania’s history, with the good sides and the bad sides. This is the role of media, to capture everything and show it for the future generations to know effectively what to repeat, the good parts, and what not to repeat, and learn from the mistakes. […] We’ve taken you from one hundred years ago, and now we’ll look a bit into the future, maybe 10 years from now. And I’ll show you a project that AGERPRES has. It’s called the AGIL. AGIL is the AGERPRES Innovation Lab. And this innovation lab has not been working for very much time, and we only have a product, which is the AGERPRES NewsBot. The AGERPRES NewsBot helps you access the most relevant content about Romania directly through Facebook Messenger,” said Alexandru Giboi.

    The AGERPRES NewsBot helps Facebook users identify the Agency’s most important news items in English, in an easy, interactive and practical manner. It can be accessed using Facebook Messenger, at the link: https://www.messenger.com/t/AgerpresNewsAgency/.

    AGERPRES NewsBot is part of the AGERPRES Innovation Lab project, an initiative of the National News Agency devoted to creating an innovation environment, aimed at testing and deploying the newest media production and broadcast techniques on a national and international level. The NewsBot will soon be available in Romanian. More details about AGERPRES NewsBot and AGERPRES Innovation Lab, at the following link: http://agil.agerpres.ro/.

    The “People of the Danube Delta, the realm between the waters” video documentary, which was also premiered at the UN headquarters, is a material which entices one to a journey to a world where everything seems to be coming from other times and where the challenge comes from only one question: “What can be saved, preserved and passed on?.” The documentary can be watched online on AGERPRES VIDEO Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AGERPRESVIDEO/ and on the www.agerpres.ro public website.

    At the event, AGERPRES also exhibited part of its photographic archive, images depicting the most important moments of Romania’s activity at the UN, the main peacekeeping operations Romania participated in, as well as images reflecting the Romanian cultural-artistic, social, sports and political life. The AGERPRES PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE can be admired at the UN headquarters until December 9.

    Also attending the event were Associated Press Vice President John Daniszewski, members of the UN member states’ permanent representations to the UN, as well as members of the Romanian community in the US. More…

  • AGERPRES premieres at UN – Romania’s first Facebook Messenger NewsBot and “The realm between waters” documentary

    AGERPRES National News Agency launches on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in New York the first Facebook Messenger NewsBot of Romania – AGERPRES NewsBot, and the “People of the Danube Delta, the realm between waters” video documentary, a story about the Danube Delta told by people for whom Romania will always be at home.

    AGERPRES NewsBot helps Facebook users identify the most important news items of the Agency, in an easy, interactive and practical manner. Thus, those who will access AGERPRES NewsBot will be able to read, using Facebook Messenger, news items in English in the areas of Culture, Economy, Politics and Sports.

    Moreover, AGERPRES NewsBot users can subscribe to a weekly overview of the most important news, which will be delivered every Sunday, at 15:00. In Romania, AGERPRES NewsBot will be available starting 1 December, at 13:00 hrs. The Romanian version will be available soon.

    AGERPRES NewsBot is part of the AGERPRES Innovation Lab project, an initiative of the National News Agency devoted to creating an innovation environment, aimed at testing and deploying the newest media production and broadcast techniques on a national and international level.

    The “People of the Danube Delta, the realm between waters” video documentary, which will be presented as a first at the UN headquarters, isn’t only a monography of the localities which, in history, have been closely linked to the destiny of a nation, but a material which entices to a journey to a world where everything seems to be coming from other times and where the challenge comes from only one question: “What can be saved, preserved and passed on?”

    With the aid of the air and underwater shooting, the AGERPRES Video team has tried to illustrate as best as possible the reality of a place which isn’t presented as a tourist’s eye view. The trailer of the documentary the “People of the Danube Delta, the realm between waters” can be watched on the online video channel of the News Agency.

    Moreover, the full documentary will be available online starting 1 December on AGERPRES VIDEO Facebook page and on the www.agerpres.ro public website.

    The two premieres take place as part of the event organised by AGERPRES Romanian National News Agency and the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations.

    On the occasion of the event in New York, AGERPRES will also exhibit part of its huge photo archive, images depicting the most important moments of Romania’s activity at the UN, the main peace-keeping operations Romania participated in, as well as images reflecting the Romanian cultural-artistic, social, sports and political life.

    The event benefits from the support of the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR), an Erste Group member.

  • “Re-Start Project – for a high-quality journalism!” reaches Republic of Moldova

    The “Re-Start Project – for a high-quality journalism!,” launched by the MediaSind Romanian Union of Journalists, reached the Republic of Moldova, where a partnership with the University of European Studies of Moldova (USEM) was signed, union representatives inform in a release sent to AGERPRES on Monday.

    The students of the faculties of communication, journalism, public relations and not only, with this university, can register starting Monday, 31 October 2016, in the first stage of the project which provides them with a chance to become professional journalists.

    “The best students, selected by the professors, will receive press badges to become volunteers within the ReStart project. It is the first important step for the youth who want to discover what journalism and the deontology of this trade mean, and we will be by their side. I am glad that this project extends abroad, where we can offer support and landmarks for the future generation of professionals in journalism,” MediaSind President Cristi Godinac said.

    The collaboration protocol within the ReStart project was signed by University of European Studies of Moldova (USEM) rector Iurie Sedletschi and SRJ MediaSind President Cristi Godinac.

    The USEM is one of the most prestigious universities of the Republic of Moldova, including the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences.

    The first “ReStart Volunteer” press badges last week reached the students of the Faculty of Communication and International Relations at “Danubius” University of Galati, together with which this project was founded, alongside AGERPRES National News Agency and Bursa daily. The students selected in the project have already signed volunteering contracts and job description sheets with the AGERPRES leadership.

    The volunteers will work together with the journalists from AGERPRES and Bursa daily.

    The project is carried out by signing partnership agreements with universities of several university centres. So far, partnerships were signed with the “Ovidius” University of Constanta, the “Lucian Blaga” University of Craiova, the “Aurel Vlaicu” University of Arad, the International Free University of Moldova — ULIM — and Bursa daily, and other institutions from Timisoara, Cluj, Iasi and Bucharest are going to join the project. More…

  • AGERPRES, awarded CCIB’s “Ioan V. Socec” trophy, for objectivity and professionalism in reflecting economic phenomenon

    AGERPRES National News Agency was awarded by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Bucharest Municipality (CCIB), within the 23rd edition of the Bucharest Municipality Companies’ Ranking, the “Ioan V. Socec” trophy, for “objectivity and professionalism in reflecting the economic phenomenon.”

    “Established in March 1889, AGERPRES National News Agency was the first specialist news agency of Romania. In time, it went through several stages of development and key-moments. Since the autumn of 2013, AGERPRES has started a rebranding process. The agency continued to consolidate its image, both on a national and on an international level, getting involved in new projects, organising events, launching new news feeds and dedicated sections. Today, AGERPRES has the role of providing balanced, unbiased information and it is the main source of information for the citizens and institutions of Romania, as well as the most important source of news about Romania abroad,” the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Bucharest Municipality (CCIB) said.

    Alongside successful business people, academic figures and officials from the Government, the Capital Prefecture, district halls and non-governmental organisations, as well as members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Bucharest participated in the event.

    A number of 6,710 companies were awarded within the ranking, out of the 34,390 which met the combined criteria taken into account by the organiser, from the total of 120,615 companies which submitted the balance sheet corresponding to 2015.

    At the same time, the CCIB awarded excellency trophies to the companies which took the first spot in the elite competition over the past five years. More…

  • INTERVIEW Harvard expert: NATO will continue to do the heavy lifting in European defence

    NATO will continue to do the heavy lifting in European defence, despite France and Germany advancing a new policy of boosting European Union defence and security cooperation with the support of several high ranking officials in Brussels, Visiting Scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University Dimitar Bechev said on the sidelines of the yearly Bucharest Forum, a conference organized by Aspen Institute and the German Marshal Fund.

    The expert believes that the initiatives comes from an internal crisis of the EU, the Brexit referendum and it is a way of showing to the outside world that the EU still matters.

    However, he says, symbolism is what matters for the Europeans right now and they see defence as a low hanging fruit, that can accomplish a lot in terms of external image.

    AGERPRES: How do you see the new debate on boosting the EU cooperation on defence and security?

    Dimitar Bechev: If you’re talking about the French-German proposal, I think they come from the internal crisis of the EU, the Brexit referendum and it’s a way of showing to the outside world that the EU still matters. Security and defence is a highly visible area, so they can get maximum exposure by targeting that area. The French have been lobbying for a long time for a more robust security and defence policy.

    AGERPRES: They also have one of the strongest defence industries…

    Bechev: Of course, they are one of the big players in the field. And their consistent policy has been to strengthen the EU defence area. Germany has been the more problematic part of this deal. With Germany it’s symbolism that matters, not the results. It’s different for France, it wants a working policy.

    However, I don’t think it’s going to move forward that easily, because there is a lot of fraction in Europe and NATO is doing the heavy lifting. NATO has been revitalized after the annexation of Crimea and the Warsaw Summit.

    But anyway, even if nothing really happens on a short term, getting Germany onboard in advancing a more robust defence policy is a step forward.

    AGERPRES: We’ve seen a lot of support for the idea, though…

    Bechev: I think Europe can pick up the slack and have a contribution. But I don’t think there will be a big leap forward in the immediate future.

    AGERPRES: The idea was also advanced by the head of the European Commission. Juncker spoke about a military capacity development fund member countries can access.

    Bechev: Maybe this could happen at a different moment. Budgets armies in Western Europe are being cut. If you look at all the data, not many countries have met the 2 percent target. You can talk about defence, you can try to streamline policies and create new initiatives, but it’s a long process and there haven’t been many deployments in the past. The EU is not doing much beyond the operations in the Mediterranean. The real fighting is done by somebody else. France is intervening in Mali, on its own. It would take some time before Europe has the capabilities to make a difference on sites. Before anything, the economics, the military expense is not right, so it’s difficult to envision anything concrete. But the symbolism matters for the Europeans right now. They see defence as a low hanging fruit, that can accomplish a lot in terms of external image.

    AGERPRES: How would Europe deal with an unfulfilled promise later?

    Bechev: I don’t think the costs would be that high because the story of the European defence has been there since the 1990s. It’s a stopgap process. I don’t think expectations are so high.

    AGERPRES: Many countries, especially in the Eastern flank, might be disappointed, because all this rhetoric has been creating expectations. And they feel threatened by Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    Bechev: Their institution of choice is NATO and it’s the buildup of NATO’s presence that matters. If the EU can do some extra bits, the better. I don’t think many people are putting their chips on the EU as opposed to NATO. It’s the US administration, the question of what happens after the elections, if the new president would be Donald Trump. I think these are important questions and they discussed them in Bratislava. The proposal of the French and the Germans is, I think, a side show. If anything moves forward it has to go through the Weimar triangle, Poland needs to have a say, and right now I’m not sure what their position is. They’ve been absent. It cannot be only a French German initiative.

    Secondly, there is a big question about the UK. They’re against it, and even after Brexit, the EU has to have a connection with the UK so part of the future arrangement with the Brits will have a defence cooperation side.

    So there are lots of moving parts. It’s very early to say anything conclusive. Even the French and the Germans have their own different perceptions. The French are more pragmatic and the Germans are more idealistic about the symbolism.

    AGERPRES: What about in terms of soft power, how can the EU engage Russia? There is a line of countries between the EU and Russia that would like the EU to be more involved and more efficient.

    Bechev: That’s because the EU and Russia operate with different sets of instruments. EU cannot project military force, whereas Russia can. The EU doesn’t have a media arm the way Russia has. Russia sometimes wants to imitate the EU and develops similar tools and set up an Economic Union. It’s all basic. This is not an equal competition because we’re talking about two very different actors.

    I think the result is a stalemate. Russia cannot push militarily very much further into Ukraine because of the costs of such a move, and at the same time the EU cannot respond with military force, but has the sanctions. They won’t be very effective at first, but later, in combination with falling oil prices they will have a bite. More…

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