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Romanian report Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-03-27 09:53:24
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Romania not yet ready to fight graft

The change of mentality needed to eradicate graft in Romania “has not happened yet”, the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor said yesterday, two days after a critical EU report. And by openly supporting colleagues condemned for graft and by criticising the anti-graft prosecutor’s office, some Romanian politicians “do not give a very good example”, Daniel Morar said during an interview. In a report on Tuesday, the European Commission criticised Bucharest for not maintaining the pace of justice reforms, with Brussels deploring delays in high-level corruption trials and the “non-dissuasive penalties” doled out by courts.
But the report complimented Morar’s office noting it “has maintained its good track record of impartial investigations into high-level corruption cases”. Since Morar’s appointment in 2005, the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has indicted former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, ex-ministers, mayors and judges accused of taking bribes or influence-peddling. In 2009 alone, 244 high-ranking officials in the administration and politics were sent to court. Hailing from a family of many lawyers, the 43-year-old Morar, who likes to play football in his spare time, has become Romania’s “Mister clean”. Since his arrival at the DNA, “politicians have not been sleeping well any more”, daily newspaper Romania Libera wrote recently.

It was social-democrat opposition senator Catalin Voicu’s turn this week. He is accused of having used his influence “to intercede with magistrates and high-ranking police officials in favour of two businessmen facing trial” in exchange for €289,000 ($385,000). In an unprecedented move for Romania, lawmakers gave their go-ahead on Wednesday to his arrest, as requested by the DNA. However, in Morar’s eyes “the fight against corruption should not be limited to arrests and convictions.”  “We need an awareness campaign along with punitive measures to have a change of mentality. When people are less ready to receive or give bribes, then we will see the rate of corruption drop,” he said. “But this mentality change has not happened yet,” he said, while adding he was “confident” for the near future. “It could happen soon as we have started to see more convictions in high profile cases. People should get the idea that no one is above the law.” Since January, the mayors of two important cities, Ramnicu Valcea (southern Romania) and Baia Mare (northern Romania) have been sentenced to prison for graft. Mircea Gutau, from the governing Liberal-Democrat party (PDL), was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and the Liberal Cristian Anghel (opposition) to two and a half years.


No autonomy for Hungarians, says Romanian president

Romania will “never” grant territorial autonomy to a Hungarian-speaking minority in Transylvania, Romanian President Traian Basescu said Tuesday, during an official visit to Hungary. “Never,” said Basescu when asked at a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Laszlo Solyom, as to when Hungarians in Transylvania might be awarded territorial autonomy. “There will never be territorial autonomy as long as Romania is a unified and sovereign state.” “Romania will never recognise the collective rights of ethnic minorities,” Basescu said.

But Bucharest would always recognise “the individual rights of representatives of minorities in matters of mother-tongue education, culture and parliamentary representation,” he added. For his part, Hungarian president Solyom reaffirmed his country’s support for making the region in Transylvania autonomous, but “strictly within a constitutional framework”.

Close to 1.5 million Hungarians currently live in Romania, after Hungary lost two thirds of territory and half its population under a peace treaty concluded at the end of World War I.


Romania "plays with fire" at 2010 Eurovision

"Playing with Fire" by the duo Paula Seling and Ovi was far and away the most popular among the 16 tunes from Romania competing at the national Eurosong contest on March 20th.

"I can really say this is the most important thing that has ever happened to me," said Seling after the winners were announced. "We will surely have the same type of show in Oslo because the concept is good, a musical duet with two pianos and two voices."

The song was composed by Ovi -- born Ovidiu Cernauteanu -- an expatriate Romanian living in Norway. The song will represent Romania at the Eurosong semi-final competition in Oslo in May.

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