A series of storms across Romania over the weekend draw most media attention on Monday, with reports of many dead and missing and of extensive damage especially in the county of Suceava. Newspapers today also tackle the effects of the political disputes sparked last week by a request to withdraw Romanian troops from Iraq.

And a statement by President Basescu regarding the accession of the Moldovan Republic to the EU promises renewed criticism for the leadership in Bucharest.

Six dead, eight missing, over 2000 destroyed houses and many damaged bridges and roads - that’s how Evenimentul Zilei describes the disaster caused by a 90 minute storm in the Eastern Romanian county of Suceava.

The most affected of the 21 townships that the storm hit this weekend is the village of Arbore, where a small creek swelled and sent down a lahar that erased everything in its path.

“It’s like after a bomb attack”, county prefect Orest Onofrei says, quoted by the Evenimentul Zilei. And the newspaper shows strong winds, mudflows and floods also hit the counties of Mehedinti in SW Romania, Maramures in the north, Sibiu in the center and Constanta on the Black Sea coast.

And in Bucharest torrential rain over the weekend wreaked havoc in several city quarters, after several days of extreme heat.

Newspaper Cotidianul, meanwhile, presents the toll in the village of Arbore differently, reporting nine dead and three missing. According to the newspaper, the number of victims could have been lower had the villagers listen to weather warnings which they received - only to mock at - 12 hours before disaster struck.

For its part, Jurnalul National interviews the head of the National Meteorology Administration, Ion Sandu, who says the extreme phenomena of the past several days are the result of global warming. And he says in such situations small creeks, capable of swelling fast, should be most feared in rural areas across the country.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Adevarul reports a new poll showing almost two thirds of Romanians consider the presence of Romanian troops in Iraq as useless. 62% of the respondents believe so, the poll says.

The study came two days after President Basescu and the Supreme Defense Council - CSAT buried a controversial initiative by the Liberal Party, a senior member of the governing coalition, to call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The request sparked huge criticism as it was not preceded by consultations with Romania’s Western allies.

Adevarul also reports that the debates in this regard have led the Liberal Party of PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu on the brink of political crisis. According to the newspaper, Tariceanu and his cronies were making considerable efforts to deal with the effects of the request, seen by many as a huge gaffe.

And representatives of Tariceanu’s party wing have been calling for the resignation of Liberal ministers Razvan Ungureanu (Foreign Affairs) and Sebastian Vladescu (Finance), who in the CSAT session last Friday voted against the troops withdrawal.

Evenimentul Zilei tries to show its audience what the participation to the Iraqi coalition means for Romania and reports the life of a Romanian colonel-doctor who, accompanied by some 30 other Romanian staff, spent six months in Iraq, “saving lives” and resisting insurgent attacks at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Cotidianul reports that the Romanian Intelligence Service retained “another terrorist” on Saturday. The suspect, of Yemeni origin, was retained in the city of Constanta for deeds seen as threatening for the national security of Romania.

Allegedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement for which he recruited new members, the man received a ban to enter Romania for 15 years and was due to be expelled yesterday.

Last but not least, Gandul quotes a statement by President Traian Basescu on Saturday, that Romania offered sister-country Moldovan Republic the option to join the EU together and that, while the people is still devided between the two states, its unification might be accomplished within the EU.

According to the newspaper, in his speech before a group of winners at a history contest for pupils, President Basescu did not say anything about a consultation with Brussels in this regard, but it’s clear that “raising this issue at this moment risks having the most negative implications” for Romania’s EU accession effort.