Romanian newspapers on Monday look into the future, present and past as they prepare for the Christmas holiday. The near future predicts a condemnation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, while 2008 is expected to turn Bucharest into the hub of the universe with a NATO summit next spring. Present comes with trampling consumers taking over hypermarkets across the country, while one newspapers look into the traditions of Christmas, many of them forgotten.
Evenimentul Zilei looks forward to April 2008 when Bucharest will host a NATO summit for the first time. The event is expected to bring together the most powerful leaders and diplomats of the world and is the most important event ever to take place in Romania.
According to the newspaper, authorities have one concern about the event, which will bring together US President George Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British PM Gordon Brown and the like: not to turn Bucharest into a sieged city.
For the 30 million dollar event authorities are preparing to "empty" Bucharest by granting days off to its citizens.
The newspaper sees the summit as the third most important NATO summit in recent history, after those in Madrid 1997 and Prague 2002.
Also looking into the future, the same Evenimentul Zilei deals with a major issue affecting Romanian current events. It reports that the fate of Transport minister Ludovic Orban, whose image was seriously affected by his involvement in a car accident, will most likely be sealed sometime between Christmas and the New Year's Eve, if not in early 2008, as prosecutors investigating the case have left for the winter holidays.
The future comes to limelight in another report in the Saturday edition of Romania libera, which reported that Romanian President Traian Basescu has announced in a radio interview his readiness to condemn the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact before the Romanian Parliament. Among others, the Pact led to the separation of Romania and Bessarabia, which later became the Soviet Republic of Moldova and then the Republic of Moldova.
Basescu said he already condemned the Pact in a statement, but needed to give this gesture "full political force" by making the statement before the Parliament, in the name of 4,5 million Romanians living in the Moldovan Republic. The newspaper quotes expert Armand Gosu, according to whom it would be a late gesture bout to spark controversies and feed Chisinau rhetoric that Romania has territorial claims over the Moldovan Republic.
Meanwhile, Gandul looks into the much mundane present and reports that customers trampling each other in Romanian hypermarkets on the eve of Christmas faced grotesque sequences despite opening hours being extended throughout the night last weekend.
The newspaper tells stories of cashiers going mad with fatigue and overwhelmed with neverending queues of buyers - and of buyers on the brink of revolt as stocks always seemed depleted while they were told to move from one queue to another.
Adevarul looks into the history of Christmas customs and tells that before the holiday was permanently changed by Western habits that put family and not the community at its core, Romanians in rural areas had very specific traditions that blended Christian and pagan customs together.
Some of these customs are still to be found in some areas across the country, where, for example, nobody is allowed to reveal the Christmas Eve meal before the priest gives his blessing to all, and where both children and adults sing carols that speak less of Christian traditions and more of pragmatic wishes such as good health and good crops in the coming year.