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Frans Timmermans in Bucharest: Stop attacking the judiciary, there is nothing wrong with it. Politicians and governors should let judiciary carry out investigations

de Victor Bratu , 5.3.2018

First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans (photo), announced Thursday in Bucharest that he has established a direct communication line with the Parliament and Government leadership to eliminate any communication problems.

When they have the impression that I do not understand they should not go to the press, but call me directly,” Frans Timmermans said.

The European official also said he told Liviu Dragnea that he had to move forward from the moment “when we are talking only about the reform of the judiciary”. “We like to talk to people about education, health. Imagine how it would be if you improve your infrastructure,” Frans Timmermans explained what he told the Government.

I believe you will see me back here very soon,” was the sentence the First Vice-President of the European Commission told at the end of the meeting with journalists.

Frans Timmermans was in Bucharest on Thursday for an official visit during which he had meetings with key officials of the Romanian state.

The European official’s agenda included meetings with President Klaus Iohannis, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, the President of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, as well as the DNA Chief Prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi.

In the end, Frans Timmermans held a press conference at the European Commission Representation where he also expressed publicly the key messages addressed to Romanian politicians:

  • In the past 20 years, you have achieved so much in terms of the independence of the judiciary. Much has been achieved since the EU accession also thanks to MCV. It is like you have been running a marathon, and now you are at the last hundred yards. My message is to keep running, but not in the wrong direction! Run to the finish line! You are close to the end. There are some recommendations of the European Commission left to be implemented. Do not stop, do not stand still and for God’s sake, do not run in the wrong direction!
  • Attacks on the judiciary, in the press and in debates, risk creating the impression that there is a problem with the judiciary. The European Commission’s opinion is that there is nothing wrong with the judiciary. Of course, there may be improvements… But there must be respect for each person’s role, to create a cooperation procedure and ultimately lift the MCV.
  • We have agreed with the presidents of the two chambers, with the Prime Minister, that we shall intensify our contacts, I shall be available to them every day if necessary. It is very important to be in touch with the Parliament as well. There seem to be some people who said that the European Commission did not understand things very well. Well, nobody will have such an excuse from now on, because we shall be working directly.
  • Honestly, after today’s meetings, I have no other information (regarding the amendments to the laws on the judiciary -editor’s note) than I already had, I did not feel like I was misinformed. I want us to avoid these situations and for this reason, I have established a direct contact. I told them that when they have the impression that I do not understand, they should not go to the press, but call me directly.
  • It is important to be in direct contact with the Parliament, not just with the Government, given its involvement in this process. We should work on the laws of the judiciary to make sure we do things in the right way.
  • I told the presidents of the two chambers and the Prime Minister: my belief is that the activity of checking magistrates must be done by magistrates. All people are wrong at times, so is the case in the judiciary. If there are people who make mistakes, they should be checked, but not by politicians or people from the Government, but by the judiciary. This is about the separation of powers.
  • It is not my job to say whether Laura Codruta Kovesi should be dismissed or not. If we talked about DNA today, it was because I wanted to. When I launched the topic, I was told what was going on, I noted that and I believe the discussion will continue. I want us to have more cooperation.
  • In the discussions with Mr Dragnea I do not consider the political family, this is not important to me when I talk about the judiciary. When we talked very briefly about politics, I told him that we like to talk to people about education, health, not the reform of the judiciary. We should overcome this moment when we are only talking about the reform of the judiciary. This country has an incredible potential, I told the Prime Minister that we need to find opportunities to spend the structural funds. Imagine how things would be if you improve the infrastructure, the work should focus on that
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