After the European Commission report was presented, the president Traian Basescu had a statement at Cotroceni, arguing that the report was an adequate one, which reiterated, however, aspects where problems still exist. “The report of the European Commission is an accurate report, which indicates, on the one hand, the progress made, (…) and, on the other hand, calls attention to the problems still existing in the judiciary, which affect the credibility of the justice system in its entirety, as well as Romania’s credibility,” the head of state argued. According to the president, the report shows that “alongside the Cabinet, which received a very positive evaluation”, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ)’s Prosecutor’s Office, the General Anti-Corruption Directorate (DGA), the Romanian Police General Inspectorate’s Anti-fraud Direction and the National Integrity Agency (ANI) got good marks, while the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the High Council of Magistrates (CSM) and Parliament were deemed “unconvincing institutions”. “If I may make a comment, this would refer to the Romanian Parliament, where, we have to admit, there was a majority which backed the Government’s repeated taking responsibility on the legislation concerning the justice system. However, the Parliament’s less positive reaction to attempts to lift immunity or to requests for permission to further pursue an investigation generated this evaluation, which I do not entirely agree with,” Basescu argued.
The president took the opportunity to criticize, once again, a portion of the press and some political figures for their alleged attempts to discredit the activity of bodies such as the National Anti-Corruption Directorate. “I call on you to present this report in a fair and balanced manner (…). The great lies promoted by a portion of the press, alongside groups of politicians, refer to the notion that some institutions are politically manipulated (…). Dear journalists, I urge you to understand one thing: the institutions I’ve mentioned – ANI, DNA and the General Prosecutor’s Office – are no longer what they were in 2004 (…). Your attempt to discredit these institutions, by claiming they are politically manipulated, puts you in an unflattering light,” the president Basescu told the journalists at Cotroceni Palace.
The head of state further stated that the Romanian administration did not deem it fair that the Mechanism for Verification and Cooperation (MCV) report should be included among the conditions for Schengen accession, in the context in which some states call for the EC report to be taken into consideration in the Schengen accession decision. The report adopted yesterday clearly specifies that European states should not allow comments in the report to influence them in their decision regarding Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area.
Ruling party concludes Constitution revision is needed
The Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) argues that the political class as a whole should take responsibility for observations in the European Commission’s report on the Romanian justice system, concluding that the modification of the Constitution is necessary, according to the spokesperson for PDL, Sever Voinescu, quoted by Mediafax. In turn, the PDL MEP Theodor Stolojan stated that the recommendations in the EC Report were accurate, while voicing his concern over the fact that Romania would remain under watch yet another year, as the next evaluation is scheduled for the summer of 2012.
The honorary president of the National Union for Romanian Progress (UNPR), Cristian Diaconescu, argued, as well, that, beyond some encouraging evaluations, maintaining the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification would pose a problem, if the mechanism comes to influence other political decisions, such as Romania’s Schengen accession or the European funds allotted to Romania.
Opposition sceptical over potential for change
The president of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Victor Ponta, stated that the opposition would back the implementation of measures requested by the European Commission, but voiced his pessimism as regards any concrete results of the anti-corruption battle. The Speaker of the Senate, Mircea Geoana, stated, in response to the report, that the institution he represents had validated all of DNA’s requests for permission to investigate and detain elected officials. The National Liberal Party (PNL) argued, in turn, in a press release, that an extra year with Romania under MCV watch is a failure and affects our image inside EU.
The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Ciolos, argued that the report was an encouraging one, but added closer involvement and supplementary efforts were needed, and not exclusively from the Executive. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate, mentioned in the report, qualifies it as an accurate one, arguing that comments on the battle against corruption “objectively reflect the current situation”. The High Court of Cassation and Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office also deemed the report an objective one, underlining it faithfully reflected progress in opposing financial crimes. The head of CSM, Horatius Dumbrava, admitted, in turn, that the report depicted, objectively, Romania’s progress, but argued most counts for criticism had to do with the faulty communication between institutions.