Britain’s top diplomat in Romania has congratulated the country’s anti-corruption office for its efforts to root out high-level graft, calling it “one of the bravest countries” in the region.
British Ambassador Andrew Noble spoke Friday at a ceremony to mark 15 years since the establishment of the Anti-corruption Directorate.
Recalling its early days, Noble said the unit said British and Spanish experts had helped Romanians set up the office in 2005 two years before the country joined the European Union.
Speaking in Romanian, he said it was “the first structure to create and implement from scratch a complete set of preventive anti-corruption initiatives,” calling it “a notable achievement.”
He mentioned the May 5 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights against former anti-corruption chief prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi which said she was wrongfully dismissed in 2018.
“This case will remain a reference for all those involved in the fight against corruption, not only in Romania, but also in other countries that face this problem,” Noble said. Romania.
After the appointment of Kovesi, a former general prosecutor, in 2013 the agency vigorously pursued senior officials, including ministers, lawmakers, mayors and directors of state companies, earning the wrath of some politicians but also the support of ordinary people.
Kovesi was praised at home and abroad for her efforts to fight high-level graft. Noble said that “fight against corruption remains, together with the strengthening of the rule of law, a priority area for Romania, both nationally and from a European perspective.”
He called Romania “one of the bravest countries in the east of the continent, by creating institutions with clear anti-corruption mandates at all levels, including high-level institutions, which have demonstrated over time their resilience and dedication to a mission that is not easy.”
He said that even “when these institutions did not have political support, they nevertheless continued to respect their mandate and brought to justice those who were guilty of corruption.”
Kovesi, 46, spent five years as the head of the agency and secured the convictions of mayors, lawmakers and ministers and a European Parliament lawmaker earning praise at home and abroad.
The then-Social Democratic government moved to oust her, months before the end of her tenure. The move was criticized and served to cement Kovesi’s reputation as a fearless anti-corruption fighter.
“It is true that many times…. efforts to combat corruption have not been easy and that the European Union has been critical of Romania’s lack of progress in this area,” he said, adding he was convinced that with efforts and expertise “Romania can fulfill its objectives of being a country where the rule of law and the law reign fully, and corruption does not affect the institutions of the state and, therefore, the citizens. “
He said the UK has contributed “to efforts to strengthen the institution and its expertise in the field of preventing and combating corruption and promoting integrity.”