Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Romania’s Anti-Graft Crusader Moves to Macedonia

Romania’s graft-fighting former justice minister, Monica Macovei, on Monday started a new job as anti-corruption adviser to Macedonia’s Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski.

A Macedonian government spokesman, Ivica Bocevski, told Balkan Insight that Macovei’s anti-corruption drive and judicial reforms had helped transform Romania’s image and “we hope she will transfer that experience to Macedonia”.

“I will not be able to fight corruption on my own; I’m her to give advice,” Macovei said on Monday after meetings with the country’s justice and interior ministers.

The move came as a surprise in Bucharest, where Macovei is admired as a professional who made a good job in rooting out the corruption long practiced in Romania.

“During her term as justice minister Ms Macovei made fighting corruption her mission and got some clear results,” a political analyst, Cristian Ghinea, told Balkan Insight.

“Her experience and very good personal relations in Brussels are bound to help the Skopje government in its mission to tackle corruption.”

A trained lawyer who spent most of her career defending human rights, Macovei was made justice minister in December 2004, when Romania urgently needed to prove to Brussels that it was serious about fighting corruption.

Macovei, 48, entered the government as a nonparty member. While winning strong support in the European Commission and among the public, she was deeply unpopular among legislators who feared her campaign.

Pressure on Macovei to step down began as soon as Romania entered the EU. On February 13, a majority in the Senate approved a motion of censure and called on her to resign, criticizing her, accusing her of “discrediting the legislative work being done in the country”.

She was fired on April 2, her removal being precipitated by the rupture in the governing coalition between the Democratic Party, aligned with President Traian Basescu, and Prime Minister’s Calin Popescu-Tariceanu’s Liberal Party.

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