Romania Vaccination Campaign

Romania Vaccination Campaign

In normal times it's the last place you'd want to get puncture marks on your skin.

But these are not normal times and people have been queuing to get inside the fabled Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania to get their COVID jabs.

Imaginative officials came up with the idea of transforming the mythical mansion into a vaccination centre to help speed up Romania's inoculation programme.

The government wants to vaccinate ten million people by September, but a recent survey showed Romanians were the least inclined to be vaccinated among the EU’s eastern members.

"Our main target audience are Romanian tourists who spend their weekend in the Bran region," explains Alexandru Priscu, marketing director at Bran Castle.

"But people from the community are not excluded and the same goes for the castle's employees."

And it's proving to be something of a shot in the arm for the local tourist industry.

Liviu Necula was intrigued by the offer of a vaccine.

"I came with my family to the castle, I saw the banner and I wanted to find out more," he said. "So I mustered the courage and accepted the sting."

Those willing to risk their necks also get a special certificate and an invitation to visit the castle again valid for the next 100 years!

OTHER NEWS, It is not possible to split the EU membership bids of North Macedonia and Albania, says North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

Brussels had been considering both applications alongside each other, but last week Olivér Várhelyi, the European commissioner for enlargement, told Euronews that decoupling the bids "might be an option" if Bulgaria continues to oppose North Macedonia's entrance in the bloc.

Bulgaria demands North Macedonia, which has been a potential candidate for EU membership since 2003, to acknowledge the Bulgarian origins of the Macedonian language and nation.

"Our identity, Macedonian language, Macedonian identity, are holy for us, like for every [other] country," Zaev told Euronews on Monday morning after his meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.

"Our Macedonian language and Macedonian identity are not negotiable." Zaev said the Prespa agreement, which Greece and North Macedonia reached in 2018 to resolve a dispute over the latter's name and facilitate the accession talks, is an example of his country's willingness to engage in diplomacy.

But there are limits to that goodwill, he warned.

"We have our pride and we have our identity. Our pride can go up and down. We showed that through the Prespa agreement and with our diplomacy and flexibility.

"Our identity is one and unique and there is no possibility my government or any other government to negotiate for that. And therefore, it's not possible [for] either a state or even a union [of which] we are not still members, to play with that.

"[From my side], it's not possible to have decoupling, or [any other kind] of development or event for practical reasons without a word of North Macedonia after everything that's happened," Zaev said in reference to the landmark agreement and the reforms his country has implemented as part of preparations for EU membership.

Zaev believes North Macedonia "deserves" to enter the next step of the membership process: the intergovernmental conference.

Negotiations to become an EU country are conducted within the framework of a bilateral intergovernmental conference that gathers representatives from member states and the candidate country.

The European Commission also participates in these sessions, which focus on how the candidate country will incorporate the entire body of EU law and adapt its domestic regulations.

In March 2020, the European Council agreed to open accession talks with both Albania and North Macedonia, thus enabling the creation of the conferences. However, Bulgaria's persistent opposition has so far prevented the diplomatic breakthrough from becoming a reality.

"We expect the EU as a whole, all 27 member countries, the European Commission, to be in the line to what they promised to us. That was: you deliver, we will deliver. We delivered and we have doubled it. And we expect the European Union to deliver," said Zaev.

It is not possible to split the EU membership bids of North Macedonia and Albania, says North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

Brussels had been considering both applications alongside each other, but last week Olivér Várhelyi, the European commissioner for enlargement, told Euronews that decoupling the bids "might be an option" if Bulgaria continues to oppose North Macedonia's entrance in the bloc.

Bulgaria demands North Macedonia, which has been a potential candidate for EU membership since 2003, to acknowledge the Bulgarian origins of the Macedonian language and nation.

"Our identity, Macedonian language, Macedonian identity, are holy for us, like for every [other] country," Zaev told Euronews on Monday morning after his meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.

"Our Macedonian language and Macedonian identity are not negotiable."

Zaev said the Prespa agreement, which Greece and North Macedonia reached in 2018 to resolve a dispute over the latter's name and facilitate the accession talks, is an example of his country's willingness to engage in diplomacy.

But there are limits to that goodwill, he warned.

"We have our pride and we have our identity. Our pride can go up and down. We showed that through the Prespa agreement and with our diplomacy and flexibility.

"Our identity is one and unique and there is no possibility my government or any other government to negotiate for that. And therefore, it's not possible [for] either a state or even a union [of which] we are not still members, to play with that.

"[From my side], it's not possible to have decoupling, or [any other kind] of development or event for practical reasons without a word of North Macedonia after everything that's happened," Zaev said in reference to the landmark agreement and the reforms his country has implemented as part of preparations for EU membership.

'We deserve the next step'
Zaev believes North Macedonia "deserves" to enter the next step of the membership process: the intergovernmental conference.

Negotiations to become an EU country are conducted within the framework of a bilateral intergovernmental conference that gathers representatives from member states and the candidate country.

The European Commission also participates in these sessions, which focus on how the candidate country will incorporate the entire body of EU law and adapt its domestic regulations.

In March 2020, the European Council agreed to open accession talks with both Albania and North Macedonia, thus enabling the creation of the conferences. However, Bulgaria's persistent opposition has so far prevented the diplomatic breakthrough from becoming a reality.

"We expect the EU as a whole, all 27 member countries, the European Commission, to be in the line to what they promised to us. That was: you deliver, we will deliver. We delivered and we have doubled it. And we expect the European Union to deliver," said Zaev.

"We are open to discuss any issue [that] is negotiable for everyone. But issues like identities, like languages, are never talked in any step of enlargement of the European Union with any other country.

"It's a huge risk if there is a continuation of the blockage. It’s a risk for Bulgaria also, for North Macedonia, for the whole Balkans," he warned.

The prime minister believes the prolonged accession bid and its resulting frustration have led to the circulation of an alleged non-paper that advocates redrawing the borders of the Balkan countries formed after the break-up of Yugoslavia.
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