Light snow fell in the capital Sunday as Romanians in their thousands turned out to watch large military parades in Bucharest and other cities for the national day holiday. President Klaus Iohannis later called on millions of Romanians who live abroad to return home to a „normal” Romania and praised countrymen for „defending democracy.”
„Unity is our celebration, all of us, no matter where we are,” said Iohannis. „I’d like Romanians who are scattered around the globe to come home to find a functional Romania, a normal country,” he said referring to the estimated three to five million Romanians who live abroad.
„Our national unity was indelibly linked to the aspirations of a real rule of law, and an inclusive society,” he said. „The way Romanians defended democracy on the streets, and also in the polling booth, means our society today continues to strengthen this commitment, and demands it, without compromises being made to it by politicians. „
This year’s celebrations were more relaxed than a year ago when Iohannis warned about democratic backsliding under the previous Social Democrat-led government. Iohannis won re-election last week after he defeated former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in a landslide victory.
Some 4,000 military officers took part Sunday morning in a military parade at Bucharest’s Triumphal Arch which was built to mark the 1918 reunification of Transylvania with Moldova, Wallachia and Bukovina.
Iohannis watched the parade and saluted the troops before wishing the crowd “Happy Birthday!”
U.S. President Donald Trump called Romania „a treasured ally for the United States of America and the North-Atlantic Alliance,” and praised Romania’s commitment to shared values of democracy and the rule of law.
Some 200 military vehicles joined the parade, and 50 aircraft flew overhead to mark the day which this year fell during the weekend. There were traffic restrictions during the weekend for rehearsals and for the actual parade.
Some 500 military officials from 20 allied and partner countries also took part in the festivities.
Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban attended another military parade in the Transylvanian city of Alba Iulia where reunification took place in 1918. Hundreds watched the parade, which will be followed by concerts and a fireworks display.
“Hurray, hurray, hurray, long live Greater Romania!” said Orban, echoing the words used when modern-day Romania was proclaimed at the end of World War I. Orban’s minority Liberal government took office on Nov. 10 after the Social Democrats were ousted in a no-confidence vote in October.
There was a military parade in the northwest city of Cluj, together with concerts featuring traditional and rock music. Festive street lights will be turned onSunday to mark the start of holiday season.
Romania entered the war siding with the Allies in 1916 but capitulated to the Central powers. It re-entered the war in 1918, and doubled its territory after its conclusion. The great union of 1918 as it is called is when Transylvania, Moldova and Bukovina reunited with what was called the Romanian Kingdom.