Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Romania marks 100 years of nationhood with parades, boos

AP, BUCHAREST

Despite freezing temperatures, tens of thousands of Romanians on Saturday turned out to celebrate 100 years since their nation became a modern-day state, with some saying they were concerned about the rule of law and the state of democracy.

Romanians waving the country’s flag attended huge military parades in Bucharest and Alba Iulia, the Transylvanian city that symbolizes Romania’s 1918 reunification. Crowds braved temperatures of minus-5°C to watch tanks and military vehicles drive under the Triumphal Arch built after World War I.

While most considered the event a national celebration, some booed anti-riot police who participated. That anger comes after police in August clashed with anti-corruption protesters, leaving 450 people injured.

Members of the ruling Romanian Social Democratic Party were booed at a ceremony in Alba Iulia, where Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, a political rival, called for Romanians to build a “dignified and powerful country, integrated through education, culture and creativity into a Europe of values, prosperity and freedom.”

More than 1,000 Romanians on Saturday evening gathered outside government offices in Bucharest to protest high-level corruption, yelling “Resign.”

Electrician Gabriel Ene said he was glad that Romanians had “a free voice,” but that the laws the Social Democrat government wants to pass “will support liars and thieves.”

Other Romanians celebrated the day with the traditional dish of cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat, rice and polenta.

The US and the EU are among those criticizing a judicial overhaul in Romania by the Social Democrats that they have said would undermine the fight against government corruption.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Romania for contributing to global and Black Sea security as a NATO member, and participating in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His statement said that Washington stands with Romania “in its efforts to uphold democratic values and the rule of law ... which are ... the foundation of economic growth and prosperity.”

Romania entered World War I siding with Britain, France and other allies in 1916, but capitulated to the Central powers led by Germany. It re-entered World War I in 1918 and doubled its territory after the end of the war.

That was partly thanks to Romanian queen Marie, who warned the Allied victors that there could be an uprising if Romania did not reunite with Transylvania, which until the war had been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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