Efforts by parts of the Romanian judiciary to push through controversial changes to the judicial status quo have led to renewed confrontations, which included disputes over recent statements of an American official regarding the rule of law in Romania.
As he visited Bucharest earlier this month, the US Ambassador to Bucharest Gordon Sondland said the US Attorney General invited Romanian Justice minister Ana Birchall to work together on an "advisory road map" to strengthen the rule of law in Romania
. "A great example of our concern with rule of law is that our Attorney General recently invited your Justice minister - which was one of the reasons I am here, to meet her as a follow-up to the invitation - to come to the US and to continue to work with him and his team directly on a roadmap he has helped create for Romania", Ambassador Sondland said, referring to the invitation.
- The statement came as the Attorney General had invited Birchall - who the US depicts as a good partner within the Romanian Government - to the US just as Birchall was about to be changed as Justice minister. The change no longer happened.
But on Tuesday, Ana Birchall took part in talks at the Romanian Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM), where she faced CSM head, Lia Savonea, in a dispute that has been lasting for months. Savonea has been trying to name a controversial prosecutor, Adina Florea, as head of a new section due to investigate justice-related crimes, a body of the judiciary which has been strongly challenged as an attempt to subdue the judiciary politically. This attempt - her fifth - by Savonea to see Florea validated failed eventually.
While Ana Birchall voiced her opposition to the move, Savonea strongly supported it. And at one point she insisted that Minister Birchall say if she signed any "roadmap" with US Attorney General William Barr.
Birchall said she would answer on paper, complaining that the request was made without her being previously announced about it.