U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm believes that a transparent process of appointing the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the heads of other directorates and offices within the judiciary will lead to the nomination of the best persons for those positions.
The statement was made against the backdrop in which this is an important year for the Romanian judiciary – the nine-year term of Constitutional Court President Augustin Zegrean will expire in April, the terms of the heads of prosecutor’s offices will expire in May, including that of National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Codruta Kovesi, and the term of High Court President Livia Stanciu will expire in September.
The U.S. position is that “as long as the criteria are well-established and the process is clear, the Justice Minister consults the Judiciary’s decision-making factors, we are confident that good decisions will be taken in what concerns the leadership of key positions within the Romanian judiciary in the upcoming months,” he explained.
Moreover, the US ambassador expressed his appreciation for the activity carried out by DNA Chief Prosecutor Codruta Kovesi.
“From what I know and what I’ve seen, I believe government officials, both the Presidency and the Ciolos Government, have supported Ms. Kovesi’s and the DNA’s activity. I believe in the past year she received supplementary resources from the Government for the work carried out by the Directorate and I believe the results speak for themselves,” Hans Klemm stated at a meeting with some media representatives, ziare.com informs.
“Romania is yet to qualify for the Visa Waiver programme”
Ambassador Klemm also stated that he is not very optimistic in what concerns Romania’s chances of becoming part of the Visa Waiver programme in 2016, considering that Romanian visa applicants are registering a refusal rate that surpasses the legally required level of 3 per cent, and that there are low expectations for this stipulation to be modified, bearing in mind the political context in the United States.
“American law demands that Visa Waiver programme participants should have a refusal rate no greater than 3 per cent. In Romania’s case, the latest statistics, published well over a year ago, show that although the evolution was in the right direction, the refusal rate was still considerably greater than 3 per cent, and that is why Romania is yet to qualify for this programme,” Klemm stated, Agerpres informs.
He pointed out that given the fact that Romania’s refusal rate remains “in the ballpark of 10 per cent” and the political context does not favour the modification of the law in the sense of raising the minimum threshold required, he finds it hard to be optimistic about Romania’s accession to the Visa Waiver programme.
“In line with current legislation, there are a number of legal procedural steps that have to be taken and the Romanian visa applicants’ refusal rate has to drop below a certain legal percentage. In what concerns the steps that have to be taken, refusal rate aside, all these steps have been made. It is an agreement that was signed in October last year, that has to be ratified by Romania’s Parliament, but all requirements have been met basically. The important thing now is for the refusal rate to drop,” Klemm explained.
The American diplomat also talked about the role that the US could play in order for the refusal rate to drop.
“We have to explain to Romanians what the eligibility requirements are in order to obtain a non-immigrant visa. If we were to make a better job explaining these requirements to Romanians, not only here in Bucharest but throughout the country, this might positively deter visa applications on the part of those less likely to qualify. It is very expensive, it is not cheap to apply for visa, and basically 10 per cent of the applicants not only fail to obtain a visa but also make a financial investment,” the ambassador stated.
American ambassador wants Secretary of State Kerry to visit Romania
U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm says he will prompt on every occasion Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Romania, and hopes Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos will pay a visit to Washington.
In a meeting with journalists in Bucharest on Monday, the American ambassador to Romania reminded Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu’s open invitation to Kerry. He also voiced his optimism about some high-level bilateral meetings in 2016.
It’s been too long since a U.S. secretary of state has visited Romania, Klemm asserted.
As for PM Ciolos’ possible visit to the United States, no schedule has been decided so far, he mentioned.