Thursday, May 24, 2007

Corruption Still an Issue in Romania, TI Says

BIRN

24 05 2007 Bucharest __ Romania needs to take action to revive the fight against corruption as the recent political crisis has affected the Balkan country’s efforts to tackle this problem, a report by Transparency International, TI, Romania, said on Thursday.

“Despite the fact that Romania became a member of the European Union, corruption remains at almost the same level,” Iuliana Cospanaru, of the Romanian branch of the international anti-corruption watchdog, said.

Cospanaru added that the activity of most anti-corruption institutions in the country had clearly been influenced by political developments.

The organization described the efforts of the government’s National Anti-corruption Department, DNA, as inconclusive.

Few officials have faced legal charges as a result of its work. In 2006, seven parliamentary deputies, one minister, two state secretaries, two presidents of local counsels, one DNA prosecutor and two mayors were investigated and indicted in 2006 on corruption charges.

Surveys show Romanians link most of their nation’s problems, from pot-holed streets to lack of foreign investment, to corruption, nepotism and red tape.

The reform drive has lost steam since EU accession in January, which was followed by deepening feuds among the major parties and a split in the ruling centrist coalition.

President Traian Basescu, who was suspended last month by parliament for alleged abuse of power, on May 19 survived a referendum on his impeachment.

According to Transparency International’s corruption perception index, despite some progress made since 2004, Romania remains the most corrupt country in the EU.

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