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What the newspapers say: May 22, 2006

Luni, 22 mai 2006, 0:00

The question of vicinity is what seems to matter most in Romanian newspapers today, from the recent Eurovision contest to the spread of the bird flu virus in the region.

But nobody seems pleased with either the regional votes in the music glitz hosted by Athens last weekend, nor with the suspicious lack of the H5N1 virus beyond Romanian borders, nor with what people farther away, in France or Germany, think of Romania.

Why is the the bird flu affecting Romania alone? – wonders Evenimentul Zilei, noting that while the country is paralyzed by the spread of the H5N1 virus across many counties no proplem was signaled in any of the neighboring countires.

According to the newspaper, one possible explanation would be that the virus spread here from imported poultry – with a devastating impact as chicken sales dropped 80% lower last week and consumption fell 20%.

Besides chicken farms, tourism seems the Romanian industry most affected by the spread of the bird flu, especially in rural areas and the Brasov region where the virus was first identified in the latest outbreak.

Cotidianul is most worried about people trying to profit financially from the bird flu crisis – as it happened before. This time, it eyes a tender by the main roads management body in the country, AND, to pick firms for the disinfection of cars in bird flu hotbeds.

While the tender is still to take place, one might know who will be the winner as the AND established criteria that only three firms can meet.

And Adevarul is focusing on the discovery of bird flu cases in the Romanian capital Bucharest and the future European capital Sibiu, where the quarantined areas will see the culling of thousands of birds and people will be allowed to leave their homes only after full disinfection.

The same newspaper discusses plans of a government reshuffle, which PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu warned yesterday would lead to political instability and risked seeing Romania fail to join the EU on January 1, 2007 as planned.

The Democratic Party - PD have been pressing their Liberal (PNL) partners in the governmental coalition to reshuffle the government, including a change of Agriculture minister Gheorghe Flutur for the way he tackled the bird flu crisis.

According to PM Tariceanu, quoted by Adevarul, all the charges against Flutur are “immature and politically irresponsible” as the minister did his best in dealing with the crisis.

According to Romania libera, however, the Liberals and the Democrats will discuss the reshuffling issue in a special meeting today, where the PD will call for a change as “the government cannot run anymore on the complicated structures established the (former) Social Democratic government”.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, the Eurovision music contest is turned inside out after Romanian representative, considered a winner at home, took the fourth place and saw his No1 dream taken by a grotesque heavy metal band from Finland.

“The horned got crowned”, Gandul writes, focusing on how the Finnish band Lordi, with their devilish costumes and masked, managed to push a win thanks to the boredom of European viewers at a contest that only managed to produce yawns among the audience over the past several years.

Evenimentul Zilei, meanwhile, says that Romanian representative Mihai Traistariu remains a winner despite the “negative vote of the Europeans” that led to the victory of the Finns.

That is because Traistariu managed a reasonably good place in the next year’s finals and the second best notes reported by Romania in the Eurovision contest ever.

The same Evenimentul Zilei notes the vicinity issue in which most countries voted in favor of their neighbours – the Scandinavians voted for Scandinavians, Balkan nations for Balkan nations and ex-Soviets for ex-Soviets, which rises huge questions about how the event is organized.

The same line is taken by Cotidianul, according to which “The Northern Coalition” beat the Warsaw Pact”, with many of the votes drawn by Traistariu coming from Romania’s neighbors and from Romanians working abroad, in countries such as Spain and Portugal.

But while countries such as Germany and France remained mostly unnoticed in the Eurovision votes, their representatives, official or not, make sure Romania pays heed to them.

Gandul quotes former German President Roman Herzog who, in an interview for the Focus magazine, says the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU is a “scandal” and a “huge farse” as the two countries still have enormous things to do before they join the 25-member European club.

And Cotidianul reports that a research ordered by the Romanian office for the Promotion of Tourism sees the French – polled by Ipsos in February this year – considering Romania as a country not worthy visiting, as it lacks quality hotels, a strong flight schedule or a relevant nightlife.

Only 2% of the French believe Romania is a beautiful country, while half of them have a bad opinion and about a third are neutral on this issue.

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