Will Romania give up on its anti-corruption fight?

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Liviu Dragnea and Klaus Iohannis (foto: CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 3.0)

After Donald Trump entered the White House the northern neighbour is one of the territories of global fight between pro-German and anti-German powers

Vladimir Mitev

This article was published on 5 June 2018 on the site and in the paper ”Word”. 

Has the end of the Romanian anti-corruption fight come? The question has probably passed through the head of many people, as the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) stipulated on 30 May 2018 that the urge of the minister of justice Tudorel Toader for resignation of the chief of the anti-corruption fight DNA is legitimate (because according to the court prosecutors are subordinated to its ministry). The CCR also defined the president Klaus Iohannis` rejection to sign the order for Laura Koveşi`s resignation as unconstitutional deed. In other words the Constitutional Court said that Iohannis, who is considered a pillar of anticorruption, must literally cut a part of his political body, signing the order for Koveşi`s resignation.

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Codru Vrabie: Romanian anti-corruption may take a new form, but it would hardly cease

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Codru Vrabie (photo: Vlad Stanciu/Asocaţia INK)

The expert on good governance talked with Baricada about the evolution of anti-corruption fight in Romania, about the deficits of the current discourse on potential union with the Republic of Moldova and about the need for concrete steps for better communication and closer ties between Romanians and their neighbours

Vladimir Mitev

Codru Vrabie is a civic activist, trainer and consultant on topics related to good governance, transparency, accountability and integrity in the public sector. He has contributed to a lot of reforms in the judiciary and public administration of Romania. Vrabie has BAs in legal and political sciences (Romania, Bulgaria, USA) and MAs in administrative sciences and European affairs (Romania, Netherlands, Spain). He has been working for the Romanian civil society since 1998. Starting in 2010, Vrabie works with the „Leaders for Justice” programme, which was replicated in 2017 in the Republic of Moldova. In April 2018, Codru joined the team of the site telegraful.net, where he works on the podcast series ”Hypotheses” – a project of Association ”Courage Ahead” (Curaj Înainte).

Baricada talked with Vrabie about Romania`s anti-corrupion`s direction of movement, after a member of the parliament from the ruling Social Democratic Party proposed in April 2018 changes to the penal legislation, which are believed to be beneficial for those accused of corruption and to make the work of prosecutors more difficult. Ever since 2017 there has been a tendency for redefinition of Romanian fight against corruption. Another imporant issue in the interview is Vrabie`s criticism towards the current discourse on unification between Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Vrabie also shared his thoughts on regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe and on Romanian-Bulgarian relations. 

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Victoria Stoiciu: Poverty is not on the public agenda in Romania – the poorest country in the EU

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Victoria Stoiciu (foto: Victoria Stoiciu)

An interview about the problems, related to the Romanian Fiscal Code, about the recent protests, caused by the changes in the anti-corruption fight, about the current condition of workers` rights and the crisis in labour relations

Vladimir Mitev

Victoria Stoiciu is the programme coordinator of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Romania. She makes a doctorate in the University „Babeş-Bolyai” in Cluj Napoca. She is also a national correspondent for Romania of Eurofound – an EU agency, which researches the labour and life conditions in the member states of the European community.

Stoiciu speaks with Baricada about the problems, caused by the new Fiscal Code, about the protests, provoked by the changes in the anti-corruption fight, about the current condition of workers` rights and the campaign „Heroes of Capitalist Labour“ of the Coalition for Labour, which is supported by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and presents cases of labour relations abuses. 

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Vladimir Mitev: A redefinition of Romania’s anti-corruption fight takes place

The founder of the blog “Bridge of Friendship” analyses the context in which the European Commission published its report for the progress of judicial reform in Romania in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio

On 18 November 2017 the founder of the blog “Bridge of Friendship” Vladimir Mitev gave an interview for the emission “Saturday 150” of the Bulgarian National Radio. The interview was about  the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification report of the European Commission on progress of Romania’s judicial reform.

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Why Dragnea got resented?

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Liviu Dragnea (photo: Social Democratic Party (Romania), CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons)

DNA’s new accusations against the leader of Romanian social democrats unveil the essence of political fight in Romania: technocracy’s supporters – the urban middle class, and unelected institutions such as the anti-corruption prosecution limit the attempts of the corrupted and incompetent political system to create troubles

Vladimir Mitev

This article was published on  15 November 2017 on the site  “Baricada”.

The news that Romanian social democrat’s leader Liviu Dragnea is accused in a third case have strengthened the well-known rhetoric against the representatives of “the red plague” in Romania – the Social Democratic Party, called by the indignant street in short “thieves”. The standard story is that Dragnea’s people represent the local political and business elites, known as “barons”, while the anti-corruption prosecution actions are led by another mighty lobby – the secret services. Social democrats themselves usually use rhetoric against the foreign capital in the country and declare themselves as patriots.

However the story about the fight between secret services and barons, between people and politicians in Romania starts to become boring, because it is being told without change for years. It has weak points at a closer look. But in order to see through the gaps, one has to understand better the context, in which new prosecution charges are brought against Dragnea. DNA’s accusations start as an investigation by the European anti-fraud service OLAF. Dragnea is accused of establishment of an organized criminal group, for abuse of public service and preparation of false documents.  OLAF wants the recuperation of 21 million euro, which have been stolen through the firm “Tel Drum”, that is alleged to be affiliated with Dragnea. Romanian state will have to recover the missing sum of money.

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Georgi Vasilski: The attacks against DNA aim at undermining the external trust in Romania

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The former correspondent of the Bulgarian Natioanal Radio in Bucharest has been interviewed in the emission “Saturday 150”, in which he addressed the developments in the Romanian anti-corruption fight in the last months

The Romanian anti-corruption fight has become an export resource of Romania. That is why it has been scrutinized under lenses not only to the north of the Danube, but to the south of it, and in other countries such as Republic of Moldova. On 27 July 2017 the blog “Bridge of Friendship” has posted the article “The Romanian anti-corruption fight as Game of Thrones”, in which the recent events in anti-corruption, the external and the internal context, that influence it, have been analysed. This article was referred to as Georgi Vasilski – the former correspondent of the Bulgarian National Radio, has been interviewed on 29 July 2017 in the emission “Saturday 150”.

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The Romanian fight against corruption as Game of Thrones

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The chief prosecutor of DNA Laura Koveși (foto: YouTube CC-BY via Wikipedia Commons)

The renewed attack against the chief of the anti-corruption prosecution Laura Kovesi and the recently appeared tendency for conditional liberation or conditional condemnation of people sentenced for corruption in Romania show that the system reacts to the changes in the external and the internal political balances

Vladimir Mitev

This article appeared on 28 July at the site ”The Barricade”.

The Romanian fight against corruption reminds of the series “Game of Thrones”, where all the relations between the protagonists are those of power. They either kill one another, or practice war in the form of intimate relationships, but at the end of the day everything they do is to participate in the eternal fight for power. Anticorruption to the north of the Danube is often presented as a clash between good and evil. In fact it represents the current balance of forces between the participants in the political game.

The events of the last months show that perhaps there is an ongoing redefinition of the Romanian fight against corruption, through which it sets itself for the new external and internal political conditions of Romania. The process became more visible even in Bulgaria in the last weeks after different Bulgarian media discovered with a delay of one month that audio recordings have appeared in Romania, showing how the chief of the Romanian anti-corruption prosecution DNA Laura Kovesi “orders” a criminal investigation against the prime minister Sorin Grindeanu.

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