March was a fairly quiet month on the political front. With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, it was the proverbial calm before the political storm, which dominated headlines for the rest of the year once it broke.
Romania’s burgeoning car industry was in the news; Ford unveiled the new B-Max model at the Geneva car show and started hiring for planned production in mid-2012. Local car manufacturer Dacia also launched its new Lodgy model on the world stage at the Swiss car show.
It’s been a great year for Romanian film and the country’s new wave of daring directors continue to gain international recognition for their work, but in March one of the landmarks in Romanian film was shown in a retrospective at New York’s MoMA modern art museum. Lucian Pintilie’s 1968 masterpiece Reenactment/Reconstituirea is a sublimely subversive, darkly humorous and moving portrayal of petty bureaucracy attacking the human spirit.
Plenty of energy news in March; after the discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea Neptune perimeter in February, representatives of US oil and gas company Chevron met President Traian Basecu to discuss extracting shale gas in Romania. The the induced hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technique used to extract shale gas has caused controversy across Europe. Romania gave Chevron the green light for exploration in Constanta County at the end of the month, but plans were later put on hold pending the results of European environmental impact studies. PM Victor Ponta recently suggested that shale gas projects could soon begin. There has been something of a shale gas boom in the US in recent years and more and more politicians across Europe are being seduced by the economic potential of the technique.
Renewable energy projects are popping up all over the place in Romania and in March energy company GDF Suez announced a EUR 75 million investment in a wind farm in Romania. Italian energy firm Enel also announced EUR 330 million investments in Romanian wind farms in 2011 as well as plans for significant future investments in wind energy in the country.
Our ancestors may have gazed in awe at astronomical phenomena, anxiously awaited the outcome of battles or looked forward to great sacred festivals as the seasons turned, but nowadays it takes an Apple product launch to inspire breathless excitement and wonder among the masses. The iPad 3 came along in mid March, but Romania had to wait until the end of the month for the latest Apple must have.
Workers on the new metro line got a surprise when they tunneled into an old wine cellar. Experts estimated that the wine cellar dated from the the late 18th or early 19th century and work was halted pending an archeological investigation. Reports at the time suggested either the route of the tunnel would be changed or, possibly, the historic wine cellar would be incorporated into the metro.
Corruption cases involving politicians are not unusual in Romania. The anti-corruption directorate’s efforts to meet EU demands has meant plenty prosecutions and although politicians contest the cases and appeal decisions as many times as possible, few go as far as ‘bolting’ Boldea. Romanian MP Mihail Boldea did a runner to Kenya in an attempt to escape justice. He returned willingly and said he’d simply been on holiday. But his timing – before his parliamentary immunity had been lifted to allow the criminal investigation – and media reports that he’d been finding out which African countries did not have extradition treaties with Romania looked a little suspicious. The crimes of which Boldea was accused were pretty serious too; connections to organized crime, money laundering and human trafficking.