Romania’s president blasts government over corruption report

International

Moldova’s Prime Minister Maia Sandu, left, shakes hands with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Sandu is on the first visit abroad after the political turmoil that followed the formation of her country’s new government last month. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s government is ignoring the will of its own citizens by not adopting anti-corruption recommendations made by a European anti-graft body, the country’s president said Wednesday.

President Klaus Iohannis said that it was “extremely worrying” that Romania was still in the focus of European institutions.

A report by the Council of Europe’s corruption monitoring division said Tuesday that Romania had made “very little progress” in efforts to prevent high-level corruption, noting that the country had complied fully with just four of 13 recommendations for handling corruption among lawmakers, judges and prosecutors and partially complied with three more.

Iohannis, a former leader of Romania’s National Liberal Party, said that the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s Social Democrat Party, “got a red card once again” for the “damages made by this government by modifying the justice and penal laws.”

“The actions of the Romanian authorities are in contradiction with the recommendations of the European body,” Iohannis said.

Romania has faced international criticism because of legal changes considered to undermine anti-corruption efforts, including warnings from the European Union about its concerns over the rule of law.

Dancila’s party rejected the criticism from Iohannis, saying that 14 other countries in Europe, including France and Germany, had yet to implement some of the recommendations made by the Group of States against Corruption, or GRECO.

This “means Romania is not by far an only case, as the president suggests,” the Social Democrats said, adding that the government would wait until a “general consensus” is reached among the country’s magistrate associations before implementing the GRECO recommendations on the judicial reforms.

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