Today we are publishing the issue no 5,000 of our daily newspaper. When the first issue of “Nine O’Clock”, Romania’s first ever English language daily, appeared in early October 1991, nobody could imagine what the future held in store for it. Neither myself, nor my three former fellow foreign affairs commentators with whom I brought this initiative to life, or the readers, most of them foreigners living and working in Romania, would have thought of the… issue 5,000.
As I said before, the publishing of “Nine O’Clock” was a mere matter of chance. Having graduated the Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest, where I also took my PhD in International Public Law, and having worked continuously as a foreign policy commentator, in the early 1990, I had run for a couple of months, at the invitation of Romania’s first president the “Dimineata” daily newspaper, which was meant to be the first democratic newspaper in the new Romania. Late that year, I was editor-in-chief of the “Mondorama” magazine published by “Agerpres”, when, one evening, my younger friend, the late Ralu Filip, who was to become president of the National Council of the Audiovisual, only to die absolutely unexpectedly of a disease which was not diagnosed in due time, invited me to visit Ceausescu’s former club on the bank of the Floreasca Lake. Ralu, a professional lawyer, had his first press article, published by me. Chance had it to meet at the said Club an important Greek businessman who ran an US import-export company that exported steel and petrol products from Romania, while he was celebrating his birthday anniversary in a select company of Romanian businessmen, politicians and bankers, some of them still present on the Romanian political and economic scene. A few weeks later, he told me he would like to do some business together, and this is how I got the idea of a daily English language newspaper being published.
It is my former colleague Viorel Popescu who hosted at that time a Radio Romania programme called “Nine O’Clock”, who gave the newspaper the same name, though it is also true that, afterwards, the Radio Romania Director back then well-known journalist Eugen Preda, suspended my colleague’s programme. However “Nine O’Clock” with its 5,000 issues today, will celebrate its 20 year anniversary next month, continued, and, most importantly, made an outstanding name for itself in the landscape of the Romanian post-December 1989 press.
Looking back at the road travelled so far, we cannot help remarking that our chief concern was to offer our readers a most accurate picture possible of today’s Romania and not the few problems it has been facing over time, and not the few success stories it had over time. We also cannot help noticing the permanent dialogue we have had all this time with state institutions and decision-makers. For years, the newspaper’s correspondents joined the journalist delegations that accompanied Romania’s presidents, prime ministers, ministers of foreign affairs, defence and so on. Also, we cannot help remarking the steady dialogue and cooperation with foreign diplomats, bankers and banks, business people that allowed us to enrich the content of our newspaper and to offer information and viewpoints directly from the source, to contribute to the rapprochement and development of cooperation between our country and other countries of the world.
It is plain to see that, in the current period of economic and financial difficulties, which are felt in Romania too, the press community is hit as well. However, we haven’t lost, nor will we lose our optimism, as we keep counting on your support and cooperation. And, at any rate, we are waiting for you to attend the early October event we are preparing for, the 20 year anniversary celebration of “Nine O”Clock”.