Several Romanian officials have reacted to the message sent on Monday, November 27, by the US State Department, which urged Romania’s Parliament not to vote legislation changes that could undermine the fight against corruption and weaken judicial independence.
Justice minister Tudorel Toader, and Social Democratic Party (PSD) MP Florin Iordache – the head of the parliamentary committee in charge of the justice laws (opening picture) reacted to the US State Department's statement.
Justice minister Toader said on Tuesday, November 28, that the US State Department expresses an opinion “as much as it is allowed.” He claimed that the US State Department’s press release talks about the draft project currently debated in the special parliamentary committee and assumed as a parliamentary initiative.
Meanwhile, Florin Iordache, the head of the parliamentary committee in charge of the justice laws changes, who was justice minister when the government adopted the controversial justice changes at the beginning of this year, doesn’t seem worried about the critical message sent by the US State Department. He said on Tuesday that the debates on the amendments to the justice laws would continue “without any doubt,” arguing that the changes debated in the commission are different from those proposed by the Justice Ministry, reports local News.ro.
“Undoubtedly, we will continue this debate and take into account all the views expressed by the legal environment," said Florin Iordache. He also said that he didn’t understand why the US State Department issued the press release, which, according to Iordache, refers to the legislation proposed by the Government.
“My colleagues and I have a series of important changes to the laws proposed by the Government, and in the debate we took into account all the observations made by the legal system. We do nothing else but transpose those observations and those changes that are demanded by the legal system in Romania. None of the changes that we have made and that we will continue to make affect the judicial independence and put pressure on either the judges or the prosecutors.”
Meanwhile, Serban Nicolae, a senator representing the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), said the message from the US State Department is “profoundly offensive.” He also said the words used in the press release are the same words used by US Ambassador Hans Klemm, whom Nicolae sees as a “harmful character”.
“Such an approach is far beyond the usages of the international relationship. We do not make laws for strategic partners but for Romania, and we have nothing to comment on, "Nicolae said, reports local Digi24.
Labor minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu, who is also a PSD member, also reacted to the critical message, saying that it would be interesting to know “which article of the draft justice laws is wrong.”
Even representatives of local Opposition parties disapproved the US State Deparment's message. Former justice minister Catalin Predoiu, an MP of the National Liberal Party (PNL), said he couldn’t accept the tone on which the US State Department talks to Romania.
US is one of Romania’s most important international allies. The two countries have a strategic partnership for security and economic development. In the statement released on Monday, the US State Department urged the Parliament “to reject proposals that weaken the rule of law and endanger the fight against corruption.”
Irina Marica, [email protected]