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Romanian officials receive European Commission report with blame on others and appeals for "zero tolerance" on corruption

de V.O.
Miercuri, 23 iulie 2008, 16:58 English | Politics

Romanian officials received with mixed feelings the report published by the European Commission on Wednesday regarding the justice reform and fight against corruption in Romania. Top magistrate Lidia Barbulescu, leading an institution harshly criticized by the report, blamed the EC criticism on the Parliament and the Government. For his part, Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu called for a constructive political discourse and zero tolerance towards corruption, while opposition leaders commented on the report extensively.

Lidia Barbulescu, head of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), about which the EC report wrote in critical terms, said she considered the Parliament and the Government to be the first to blame for not finishing high-level corruption files. CSM was criticized in the report for not making a clear, unbiased stand on the two issues.

She said judges of the High Court of Justice - also criticized in the report for returning corruption cases to inferior courts - have not given solutions to the files because of a Constitutional Court ruling that a bill allowing for former ministers be criminally investigated without parliamentary approval was against the Constitution.

"It is not our fault", she said.

According to Barbulescu, mentions in the EC report about the politicization of Romanian justice refer to the fact that high profile corruption cases are now in Parliament.

For his part, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said shortly after the presentation of the report today that he was decided to continue "the policy of zero tolerance towards those using their public seat to get rich". He was quoted in a press release saying that he called on political parties to "adopt a constructive discourse" on the issue of justice.

"The report shows a series of positive evolutions, progress that shows us that Romania goes on in the right direction, within the European Union", he said.

And Justice minister Catalin Predoiu believes the report is balanced and realistic and welcomed the objectivity of EC representatives' evaluation of Romania's progress. In his opinion, the continuation of reform was the only way to lift the mechanism by which the Commission verifies judicial reform in Romania and allow the country to take its full seat within the Union.

Meanwhile, Mircea Geoana, leader of the Social Democrats (PSD, the biggest opposition party supporting the current government), said the report showed the fight against corruption was excessively politicized and that the country continued to remain at the periphery of the European Union.

He said the report had two bad news and a piece of good news: the excessive politicization of the fight against corruption, the continued monitoring of the country by the EU, while the good news is that Bulgaria "not only received a bad report, but was taken money from" while "we got over it with no money taken" - a reference to funds received by the two countries from the EU.

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