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Western states put pressure on Romania for reforms, observers in key institutions expected

de R.R.     HotNews.ro
Miercuri, 1 octombrie 2008, 13:14 English | Politics

Representatives of Western embassies in Bucharest participate at a growing rate in sessions of the Romanian institutions with an important role in Justice reforms. A western diplomat explained for HotNews.ro that there is a significant concern on the course of the reforms, especially when it comes to Justice. Corruption and the lack of respect for the rule of law don’t affect just one country, but may have international implications, the official emphasized. On the other hand, leaders of almost all political parties comment in a more and more aggressive voice the participation of foreign diplomats in the sessions of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), write letters to Brussels and lobby for the non-involvement of EU officials in the interior political decisions.

The most active embassies are from UK, USA, Holland and the European Commission Delegation in Bucharest. On September 22, diplomats or embassy employees from Western states participated in the CSM session in which the case of Alice Draghici was discussed. Alice Draghici, a member of the National Integrity Council, attempted to block the investigation against an allegedly corrupt medical doctor whom she represents as a lawyer.

"It is a normal action, it is a public hearing and there are issues that we are interested in, it's just normal to be there", a HotNews.ro source in the diplomatic environment says.

The teams of observers from embassies also participate in other key-events. at the beginning of the month, European Commission and US Embassy officials monitored the CSM session in which the magistrate decided on a negative note for Monica Serbanescu, the ministerial nominee for the replacement of Daniel Morar, chief-prosecutor in the National Anti-Graft Prosecution Office (DNA).

The changes brought to the Criminal Procedure Law and to the Criminal Law in October 2007 raised concern in Brussels, European officials going up to direct interventions in the Romanian Senate's Juridical Commission, in order to prevent amendments that diminished the power of prosecutors from coming into force. The most severe interventions were made by the UK and the Dutch ambassadors.

US ambassador Nicholas Taubman openly criticized the parliamentarian attempt to change the laws, showing that certain amendments, if adopted, would make it impossible for the prosecutors to investigate almost any crime at all. Taubman also expressed his support for Daniel Morar in moments in which the chief-prosecutors was targeted by political attacks.

The problem, HotNews.ro columnist Dan Tapalaga believes, is that the European Commission and the United States don't have anymore strong instruments to correct the democracy flaws and to influence reforms, since Romania became a full member of NATO and the European Union. Indirect pressure, statements, adopting positions and monitoring open sessions are instruments that have to face the nationalist responses of the Government, amplified by Social Democrats, Conservatives and the far-right Greater Romania Party. Even the Prime Minister, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, stated that Romania has equal rights to all other EU countries and that it should not be treated as a second-rank country.
























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