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National Day: Military parades and free meals

President, prime-minister, politicians were booed.

Thousands of people came out to watch the military parades organized on National Day, encouraged by the weather that was particularly warm for this time of year. The politicians that scattered across the country to convey political messages were booed. More appealing however were the free shows and meals offered after the parades were over, people stampeding to get free portions of forcemeat rolls of cabbage, and of beans and sausage. Over 5,000 people took part in the festive dinners organized in Bucharest’s District 2. 5,000 portions of beans and sausage were prepared in Petrosani too, while in Buzau over 1,000 people stampeded in order to receive free portions of forcemeat rolls of cabbage. Others Romanians preferred to take advantage of the mini-holiday and flooded the mountain resorts.

Military parade at Arch of Triumph – spectators three times more numerous

Festivities in Bucharest centred on the military parade that took place at the Arch of Triumph, authorities stating that over 7,000 persons watched the parade, a figure that is almost three times higher than in previous years. The parade consisted of fighting vehicles, soldiers on horseback, special navy teams and fighters from all branches. Moreover, three detachments subordinated to the General Directorate for Defence Intelligence (DGIA) took part in this year’s parade for the first time ever. Likewise, three Spartan C27 transport planes, 6 MiG-21 LanceR fighters and 3 IAR-99 Soim helicopters flew over. In previous years, fog prevented the MiG fighters from taking part in the parade.

Bucharest’s Mounted Police Detachment, consisting of 24 mounted policemen, took part in the parade for the first time. The detachment was created in 2009, at the order of Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu. Apart from the solemnity of the parade, the celebrations were a profitable moment for street sellers that sold tricolor flags for RON 5 apiece.

Romania’s National Day was marked through military parades organized for the first time in Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara, where approximately 4,500 persons watched the events.

In Cluj-Napoca’s Avram Iancu square, over 500 persons watched the first military parade that included fighting vehicles. In Timisoara, approximately 4,000 persons watched a military parade that consisted of 350 soldiers, firefighters, policemen and gendarmes. In Targu Mures, approximately 3,000 persons watched the National Day events organized in Victoriei Square, at the Latinity Monument.

Throngs of admirers, award ceremonies and boos

President Traian Basescu attended the military parade at the Arch of Triumph alongside other officials. In the end, the President went to talk to the crowds and was met with good wishes, but also with reproaches and boos. In the afternoon, after meeting the representatives of the District 2 Mayoralty, the Head of State went to talk with the people assembled in the Obor Square where over 16,000 free portions of beans and ribs were handed out. President Basescu posed with children and a man kissed his hand.

On Thursday evening, Traian Basescu offered a reception at the Presidential Palace, calling on Romanians to have self-confidence, to be responsible, generous and brave, listing among Romania’s goals the political class’s responsibility to continue state reform.

“I believe the most valuable lesson that the 1918 generation and the challenges of today offer is that solidarity can never be politically annexed. Through solidarity we can give a coherent answer to the economic crisis and to the crisis of values, a crisis that could have far more dramatic consequences on the long term,” the President stated in his message. Approximately 1,000 persons took part in the event, including Premier Emil Boc, the Presidents of the Two Chambers of Parliament Roberta Anastase and Vasile Blaga, former President Emil Constantinescu, Patriarch Daniel, judges, MPs, members of the diplomatic corps, etc. On the same day, the Head of State also promoted Guard and Protection Service (SPP) chief Lucian Pahontu and Special Telecommunications Service (STS) chief Marcel Oprisan, high officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and from the Ministry of Defence, and awarded decorations to the head of the Emergency Rescue Service (SMURD), the head of the Bucharest Ambulance Service, and to a team of doctors and nurses from the ‘Grigore Alexandrescu’ Hospital for its involvement in the Giulesti Maternity fire case.

Premier Emil Boc, as well as Opposition leaders Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, attended the events in Alba Iulia on Thursday. The events were attended by 15,000 persons, most of them watching the show of fireworks and the concerts that took place in the evening. The Premier was booed when he laid a wreath at Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave’s) statute, when the troops taking part in the military parade gave him the official salute and when he left. Asked for comments, Emil Boc refused to answer, stating that December 1 is a day free of politics. Nevertheless, he stated that he loves Romania for its people, telling Romanians that “the future takes us towards prosperity even though the present is rougher.” “Maybe we need unity and solidarity now more than ever and this solidarity is primarily found in Alba Iulia,” Boc stated, being quoted by Mediafax.

On the other hand, Social-Liberal Union (USL) leaders Victor Ponta, Crin Antonescu and Daniel Constantin pointed out that Romania’s National Day is a moment of unity and solidarity and asked all Romanians, in USL’s name, not to lose hope that better days will soon come. “Romanians forgive stupidity or ignorance, but they never forget those that harm them with harshness and brutality,” the USL representatives said.

Incidents

A 16-year-old boy that took part in a cross organised in Oradea on National Day collapsed shortly after finishing the race. The boy lost his life. In Brasov two soldiers fainted during the military parade. In Bucharest, a tank that took part in the parade broke down and remained blocked in the Grant Bridge area, affecting traffic.

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