Friday, February 13, 2009

Romania Vows To Continue Justice Reforms Demanded By EU

BUCHAREST (AFP)--Romania's Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu vowed Thursday to continue judicial reforms after the European Union warned Romania to step up the fight against corruption following a recent drop-off in efforts.

"Our priority is still to promote and back the adoption by parliament of the ( civil and penal) codes," Predoiu told a news conference.

"I can't help but regret that ... we haven't progressed in adopting these measures," he said, describing the European Commission's report as "objective."

The commission, the E.U. executive body, warned in its report Thursday that " it is important that the Romanian authorities regain momentum on judicial reform and the fight against corruption so as to reverse certain backward movements of recent months."

Romania's state prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, deplored meanwhile that " parliamentary procedures" had frozen cases against ministers accused of corruption.

"The important thing is that parliament respond to requests from the prosecutor's office concerning the launch of judicial investigations against ministers," Kovesi said.

Several of these requests were blocked for months by parliament ahead of November 2008 elections but since then there has been no movement either.

President Traian Basescu also announced Thursday that he had reconfirmed the head of the national anti-corruption directorate, Daniel Morar, in his position.

Morar's announced ouster last year had prompted criticism from Brussels, which considers him a guarantor of efforts to fight corruption.

Romania joined the E.U. on Jan. 1, 2007, along with Bulgaria, but due to the country's shortcomings in justice reform and anti-corruption efforts, the commission has kept an eye on developments through a special monitoring mechanism.

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