Romanian leaders promise to build highway linking underdeveloped region to the heart of the country

Inquam Photos / Alberto Grosescu

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and  Prime Minister Ludovic Orban  celebrated a national holiday Friday by promising to build a highway to link the poor region of Moldova to Transylvania, in the heart of the country.

Iohannis and Orban traveled to the northeast city of Iasi for ‘Little Unity Day’ which marks the the day when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia united to become the Union of the Romanian Principalities.

Thousands of Romanians applauded and jeered the president and the prime minister as they made speeches in Unity Square in downtown Iasi. They were joined by other senior officials, politicians and diplomats.

“I have sent a strong signal to the government that Romanians and Romania needs a Unity Highway,” Iohannis said.  

“We need a high-speed over the Carpathians,” Iohannis said. “The historical provinces of Moldova and Transylvania should be united. Without this highway, Moldova won’t be able to overcome its economic” disadvantage.

 “Our goal is for the highway to be built with European money,” Orban said.

People shouted: “We want a highway!” and “We don’t want a parade, we want a highway!”

Asked about the mixed reactions, Iohannis said: I am very happy that we have a lively democracy which can be seen on a lovely day like today.”.

“We are not at all bothered (by the jeers). Every Romanian has the right to his opinion and I think that overall things are going better here in Iasi,” he said.

“It is very, very sad that Moldova is a little bit behind and this is why I came here with the prime minister to show our solidarity and concern and we will fix Moldova’s problems,” he said.

Highway building has become an electoral priority for the country’s political parties in the last year, after a Moldovan entrepreneur Stefan Manfachi built a 1-meter highway in 2019 to shame authorities and protest the lack of road infrastructure in Romania.

Romania’s highway network is only 805 kilometers long and road construction continues at a very slow pace. The former Social Democratic government built 44 kilometers of highways last year, short of its target of 100-180 kilometers.

Moldavia (now known as Moldova) and Wallachia had been principalities in Eastern Europe since the 14th century. In 1859, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected as ruler of both principalities, creating the Union of the Romanian Principalities.



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