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What the newspapers say: February 17, 2009

de Radu Rizea     HotNews.ro
Marţi, 17 februarie 2009, 9:53 English | Press Review

The tensions between Romanian immigrants and Italian citizens have peaked again, reaching the same level as before the 2008 local elections in Rome. The latest incidents include a new rape case involving two Romanian suspects and the aggression against four Romanian immigrants, a few yards away from the scene of the alleged rape. Back in Romania, the economic crisis reveals new threatening figures, doubled by the authorities' lack of ability in spending European funds.

Four Romanians were severely beaten in Rome on Sunday night, and tension is still building up between Romanian immigrants and Italian citizens. The incident came after media reports that two Romanians "seem to be" suspect in a new rape case. Despite the fact that the aggression took place only a few meters away from the alleged rape scene, authorities treated the incidents separately, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

The tensions seem to skyrocket in Italy, the official position of authorities being far from conciliatory. "Rapists should be castrated", Government officials suggested recently. The Italian Agriculture minister suggests chemical neutering, while the Law Simplification Minister suggested surgical castration. As a response to the warlike statements of the Italian officials, Romanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu said he would hand to his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini some 22 files of unsolved aggressions against Romanians in Italy, Gandul reads.

"The Romanian rapist - a convenient myth" is the headline in Cotidianul, the newspaper claiming that the Police and the propaganda don't take into account real figures. According to the latest statistics, 0.03% of the Romanian immigrants committed a rape in Italy, compared to 0.4% of the Albanians and 0.53% of the Morocco immigrants. Since immigrants are to blame for 40% of all rapes, Italians remain the largest crime group in Italy, the newspaper informs.

Back to Romania, a new report of the Academic Society (SAR), an NGO, reveals economic expectations far beyond  the Government's darkest fears. 7% unemployment rate - double than the official estimations, a 0.7% economic growth - compared to the 2.5% expected by the Government, as well as a 4.4% budget deficit, also double than the state budget for 2009 plans to keep up - these are just a few of the report's findings, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

The real estate market is still in free fall, Gandul reads. Prices dropped 5% for new apartments and 15% for older apartments in Bucharest, compared to December 2008, and the drop may reach 30% by the end of 2009, Gandul reads.

Meanwhile, Bucharest authorities managed to spend some 176 million Euros out of the 3.1 billion Euros the European Union made available as structural funds for 2007 and 2008, Romania Libera informs, adding that the situation is not caused by the lack of projects: all submitted projects add up to an amount double than the available funds. Instead, the high level of bureaucracy, the complicated procedures and the lack of information and communication are to blame, the newspaper comments.


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