Saturday, June 07, 2008


King Mihai officially returns to Peles Castle

‘Romania is repairing history and its identity’, the monarch said.

After 60 years, King Mihai I, accompanied by Queen Ana, Princess Margareta and Prince Radu, returned to the Sinaia royal domain, following a government decision last year to give back Peles Castle and the surrounding domain to the royal family. In the main hall of the castle, King Mihai praised the Cabinet’s decision, saying it is an act of repairing Romania’s history and identity.

“We are hoping that my return to Peles and Sinaia, the historic seat of the royal family, will be the beginning of total respect for private property, dignity, democracy and freedom by Romanian society’s institutions,” said the monarch.

He added that the gates of Peles Castle will remain open to Romanians for ever, as they always were since 1914, only that from now on, “Romanians will find here not only rooms filled with valuable items, but also living people, a family giving meaning to the Romanian state.” “For 142 years, the value of monarchy has remained above political alternatives or governing systems. It guarantees pride, identity, continuity and traditions. Peles is a symbol of our country’s independence and power,” said King Mihai.

After the speech, the royal family got out on the castle’s balcony to salute to hundreds of people present for the event. At the kings’ salute, the crowd answered with cheers and pro-monarchy slogans.

The event was attended by hundreds of monarchists or supporters of the king, but also by various diplomats in Romania (from Russia, Canada, Turkey, Slovenia and others), historians Nicolae Serban Tanasoca, Dan Berindei, Filip Iorga and Adrian Cioroianu (former Foreign Minister), director Cristian Mungiu, the president of the Romanian Academy, Ionel Haiduc, Sinaia Mayor Vlad Oprea and Brasov Prefect Adriana Dontu.

At noon yesterday, the king was offered the town’s key, in a ceremony at the Sinaia mayor’s office. The events in Sinaia come a few days ahead of the celebration of the royal family’s diamond wedding on June 10. In honour of the event, the royal family will host a concert at the Romanian Athenaeum.

Mihai I was forced to abdicate in 1947. All the properties of the royal family were seized by the communist ruling and Peles became a state museum in 1953. In 2001, the Romanian state offered the King EUR 30 M in exchange for the castle, but the project was attacked as unconstitutional. In 2006, the royal family won back the castle in court. The King was given back the domain, on condition he will keep Peles as a museum for the next three years. King Mihai decided to keep the castle as a museum forever and instead use neighbouring Pelisor Castle as the royal family’s residence.
by Mihai Barbu

(C) 2000-2007 Nine o'Clock

People vs. dogs

The capital city of Romania has many and severe problems. Some of the most serious are the infernal traffic, the massive pollution, the tons of dust and the garbage thrown everywhere, the inefficient and insufficient public transport, the acute lack of social dwellings, kindergartens, hospitals, the multiplication of the office spaces to the detriment of the green areas and of the recreation places… This enumeration would be enough to characterize Bucharest as a city which does not deserve the status of capital city of a European country.

But, if we were to ask a Bucharester which is the most serious problem of the city, the answer would definitely be: the stray dogs.

There is no street in this city where the people are not attacked by a pack of dogs in the middle of the day. Left by the indolent local authorities (see the electoral campaign and the “extraordinary” results at the limit of miracle that the still incumbent mayor Adriean Videanu boasts) to breed at will and to move free, the stray dogs have marked their territories that they defend with their fangs.

Recent statistics show that over 50 persons go everyday to the emergency wards of the hospitals with bad lesions caused by dogs, some of them even remaining with serious physical traces for life and even with psychological traumas. The dog phobia is a disease more and more scattered in Bucharest: the children use roundabout ways to go to school, the elderly get out of the house with a walking stick or an umbrella, while others take with them a paralyzing spray hoping that this entire arsenal will be helpful in case of need. Unfortunately, as the medics explain, this has only worsened the situation, because the dogs consider a potential danger any person who keeps out of their way and thus they attack them. In Bucharest, the people and the dogs have carried for years a guerrilla struggle. Unfortunately, the situation is not unique in Romania, there are cities where the packs of dogs are out of control. In some cases the exasperated people got out with a gun and shot up in order to chase the dogs who had taken control on their street. Two years ago, a few meters away from the door of the Romanian Government building, a Japanese citizen died after he was bitten by a stray dog. The Bucharesters, the internal and foreign media were outraged, they blamed the authorities who continued to sleep quietly, unmoved by this tragedy. A month ago, in Constanta, a girl aged six who was playing in front of the house, was torn to pieces by the dogs, her body being found several tens of meters away…Again, nobody is guilty, nobody can do anything…

How has this situation arisen and why nobody is held accountable for the tragedies prompted everyday by the dogs without a master?

In Bucharest, the story began by the mid-‘80s, concurrently with the massive demolition campaign started by Ceausescu. Whole neighbourhoods were destroyed overnight, the people being obliged to run away from the bulldozers leaving behind them their goods and also their pets. Thus, the dogs went to street and bred year after year, decade after decade, without any viable project to stop this phenomenon connected both with safety and public health. Until the year 2000, the local officials raised their shoulders and declared that they did not have solutions for this problem. But, concurrently with the European integration process, the authorities received also funds from EU and solutions to settle this situation. Several shelters, absolutely insufficient, were built, and a sterilization campaign was started, which should have yielded results in a few years, stopping the breeding of the stray dogs. But the money did not go there where it had to, the dogs were put some collars with the words “community dog,” their ears were attached some insignia, and they were released back in the street. On paper, the situation was wonderful, but in the street the situation was different. Thus, the authorities estimate that in Bucharest alone there are over 150,000 stray dogs, although actually their number appears to be twice bigger.

A Bucharester was writing on a forum dedicated to this matter that the people from this city experience a unique paradox: they pay money to the local budget, but the state keeps the dogs in the streets, the latter bite, attack and even kill them, and then they pay money from their purse once again for drugs, hospital treatment, and even complex surgery, or in extreme cases for burial.

In Bucharest City Hall there is a specialized department, called Administration for stray dogs monitoring (ASPA). This public authority is a mere bureaucratic aberration. ASPA website specifies that if a person has a problem connected with the stray dog, he/she is asked to appeal…. to the Community Police! Then, which is the job of ASPA and on what around EUR 3 M from the Bucharesters’ purses are spent every year? Well, ASPA collects the stray dogs from the streets and takes them to a shelter where they are kept seven days. In this period, the dogs are offered for adoption, and if they do not find a master they are released again in the street in the place where they had been taken from. Considering that an extremely small percentage of dogs are adopted, we can say that ASPA’s activity is to carry the dogs from one place to another!

Here is what ASPA wrote in one of its official reports: “In the first four months of the year 2006 (this is the most recent report) 5,700 dogs were taken away of which 600 were adopted. All carry or should carry the visible identification insignia. Thus, there were 600 dogs with masters at the beginning of the year, a fact which does not reduce the percentage of complaints. The point is that ASPA has ceased to take away the dogs with visible identification insignia: THESE DOGS HAVE A MASTER.” In other words, 90 per cent of the displaced dogs go back to street. Nobody takes care of their vaccination, sterilization or food. These are the facts.

Maybe the time has come for someone to assume the responsibility for this utter lack of interest for people and animals. Hopefully, the lawsuit filed against Bucharest City Hall by the actress Monica Ghiuta, bitten recently by three dogs in the street where she lives in the heart of Bucharest, will have a snowball effect and ever more victims will defend their rights in court. As we see, in Romania the authorities can be obliged to observe the law and do their duty only through court ruling. Then, let’s take them to court!
by Rodica Pricop

(C) 2000-2007 Nine o'Clock

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Very interesting. Yes, the dogs are a problem. I'll never forget my first encounter with one. Honestly, you go to sleep at night with the barks and howls of dogs echoing in your ears. Those very same sounds are the first to greet you in the early morning of a new day in Romania. It is one of the things that makes Romania They are everywhere and it is a chore to keep orphaned children from feeding, and trying to befriend the puppies that will rapidly turn to beasts.

Very interesting info about the castle. Sinaia is a beautiful place and the castles are captivating. I remember them well.