Romania. According to
Countryaah, the Social Democrats' minority government
managed to reach an agreement on social stability at the
beginning of the year. The government promised increased
wages, increased pensions and efforts to combat
unemployment, and the union then agreed to abstain from
strikes for one year to give the government work peace for
Parliament passed a law in January with the right for
original owners to regain property nationalized during the
communist era. Critics, however, argued that the law did not
go far enough. Hundreds of thousands of buildings were
exempted, e.g. hospitals and schools, even many that were
confiscated from Jews during World War II. But Romania's
Hungarian minority supported the decision, including the
Hungarians have the right to claim many church buildings.
After a long and intense public debate, Bukarest's mayor
decided in the spring that all the stray dogs of the city
should be killed. There are reportedly about 300,000 of
these. The proposal had been heavily criticized by animal
rights activists led by French ex-actress Brigitte Bardot.
In June, the Romanian government condemned a new
Hungarian law that was considered discriminatory because it
granted special rights to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring
countries. From 2002 onwards, they would, according to the
law, be entitled to, among other things, education, work and
free health care in Hungary. Nearly 1.7 million ethnic
Hungarians live in Romania. At the end of 2001, Romania
reached an agreement with Hungary that the new law should
apply equally to all Romanian citizens.
Social peace did not last year. About 10,000 workers
demonstrated in Bucharest in November demanding the
resignation of the government. Life was better under
communism, some of them claimed, and believed that the
promises of higher wages and pensions had been broken. They
also condemned price increases for basic service. After
three years of economic decline, more than a third of the
population was estimated to live below the poverty line, ie.
a monthly income of approximately SEK 400. Although the
economy began to recover and was expected to grow
substantially in 2001, the hard-pressed population did not
yet notice any standard improvement.