In an analysis dedicated to Romania, broadcast on Saturday, the American Public Radio Network( NPR) notes that the country seeks to make a fresh start after Klaus Iohannis’ surprising victory last month over the ruling party’s nominee.
“To make headway, Iohannis (photo L), who campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption, will need to work in tandem with Laura Codruța Kövesi (photo R) , who heads Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate. She faces the tall task of rooting out graft that has plagued the country since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe 25 years ago.
Kövesi is lanky 41-year-old, a former teen basketball star with a tough-as-nails reputation. She says the legacy of her prosecutor father and her strong Romanian Orthodox faith inspire her to seek justice,” says NPR in its feature story titled “Long Plagued By Corruption, Romania Seeks To Make A Fresh Start”.
NPR quotes Romania’s chief prosecutor Kövesi saying that her agency sent some 890 defendants to trial, including former ministers, parliament members and even the ex-president’s brother and the head of Romania’s organized crime and terrorism investigation unit.
“One of her high-profile cases involves software licenses sold at inflated prices for use in Romanian schools. Nine former cabinet ministers are under investigation in that case.The nearly $200 million confiscated by the courts in connection with those cases are more than seven times the directorate’s annual budget, she says”.
“It is encouraging for the Romanian people to see that we take action, that the authorities function so well,” says Kövesi. “It leads to an increased trust in our institutions and also encourages more people to come here and file complaints.”
“And yet Kövesi acknowledges that corruption is deeply ingrained in the Romanian psyche.
She and other anti-corruption figures say that attitude developed in the years following the collapse of communism, when law enforcement was weak and opportunities were rife for politicians and businessmen to make money from the shift to a market economy,” mentions NPR’s story on Romania broadcast on Saturday.
“The transition period is one in which law enforcement bodies were weak, when even police were afraid to go out on the street,” recalls Monica Macovei, an EU parliament member and outspoken Romanian anti-corruption activist. “So you have a lot of money in the public budget being transferred into private hands without knowing how to do it.”
Macovei says an independent judiciary and Kovesi’s directorate are forcing Romanian politicians to be more accountable, something the Romanian public is demanding with a vengeance.