The good state of the Romanian economy but also its troubles claim most interest among newspapers today. But the media also considers the implications of a hunger strike among inmates across the country’s penitentiaries and notes that ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet might not have lived so long were it not for a geriatrics specialist from Romania.

Cotidianul is one of the few newspapers to continue detailed reports about a recent revolt in Romanian penitentiaries, where inmates have been on hunger strike to support a parliamentary initiative that would grant a pardon for those with sentences of less than five years.

According to the newspaper, Nati Meir, the deputy who initiated this draft legislation, may take advantage of it for himself if it somehow gets the necessary approval. That is because Meir is about to face court in an embezzlement case and may benefit of a pardon due to amendments he and his lawyers conceived in this regard.

On economy, the same Cotidianul reports that EADS CASA (Spain), the aeronautical company, has announced it would challenge a tender for the renewal of Romania’s military transport fleet, which was one by Alenia Aeronautica from Italia.

According to EADS CASA, the most important criterion for the contract - the most advantageous price - has been breached, as according to news reports EADS’ offer was 12 million euro below that of 220 million from Alenia.

Still, Adevarul describes Romania as “the economic tiger of the Balkans”, as proven by data the National Statistics Institute announced yesterday: an 8% economic growth in 2006 compared to 3.7% in Greece, 5.2% in Turkey and 5.7% in Bulgaria.

Gandul quotes the International Herald Tribune, which reported yesterday that the Romanian currency RON had the fastest pace of growth against the US dollar among currencies worldwide this year, a tendency that may be maintained in 2007 as Romania joins the European Union.

And for its part, Jurnalul National reminds that Romania will have access to non-reimbursable funds of over 30 billion euro once it joins the EU to improve its roads, schools and hospitals, agriculture and rural environment but also competitiveness among its companies.

Still, the newspaper quotes EC representatives who’ve been warning that there’s still much to go until Romania gets the money as it has to finalize national development plans.

For its part, Evenimentul Zilei compares the status of an experimented doctor working at a privatized hospital in Szeged, Hungary, with a just as experimented surgeon at one of Romania’s best hospitals in Bucharest.

While the Hungarian earns some 1,500 euro monthly, the Romanian struggles with supplementary hours to improve his salary from about 300 to some 500 euro.

And Adevarul points towards yet another weak spot in Romania - the agriculture, which is not expected to be able to reach EU standards before 30 years from now.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Gandul reports that the life of Augusto Pinochet, the ex-dictator of Chile who died two days ago was “prolonged” by a Romanian geriatrician, Maria Georgescu, who has applied the recipes of internationally famous Romanian geriatrics specialist Ana Aslan for three years (1993-1995).

“If we had had our own Pinochet in the ‘40s, if would have been good - except for all these blamed on him, if they’re true”, Georgescu says of the ex-Chilean ruler.