US Attorney General William Barr on Monday invited Romanian Justice minister Ana Birchall for a meeting in Washington in September, his office announced. The news comes as Romania's PM Viorica Dancila last week nominated a new minister, Dana Girbovan, who has been the subject of political controversies but who has yet to receive the approval of the president of Romania.

Ana Birchall Foto: Guvernul Romaniei

In the release today, Barr's office stated, among other things:

  • "The Department of Justice has worked closely with Ana Birchall and views her as a vital and trusted partner in the fight against corruption. Her leadership comes at a vital time for Romania, where controversies have raised questions about Romania’s commitment to rule of law values and have diminished public trust and caused increasing concern in the international community. Under Birchall’s leadership, Romania can once again be a model in the region for progress on anti-corruption issues."
  • "(...) In particular, during their June meeting, Minister Birchall emphasized her commitment to ensuring that Romania takes all steps necessary to strengthen its anti-corruption laws and processes. In their meeting in September, the Attorney General and Minister will discuss how the U.S. Department of Justice can assist the Minister, and her Ministry, in this vital task. The Department of Justice welcomes this opportunity to meet again with a valued and trusted partner who is committed to fighting for the rule of law."

PM Dancila announced last weekend she planned to replace Birchall with Dana Girbovan, a magistrate who also led an organisation of judges. Girbovan had come to prominence with her support for a wave of changes to the laws of justice, which opponents and observers both at home and abroad criticised as moves to subdue the judiciary politically and put an end to the fight against corruption.

In order to receive presidential approval and take over as minister, Girbovan had to resign as a judge - which she did earlier on Monday.