Moldova Picks General Prosecutor to Help Start EU Entry Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Moldova’s president named a new general prosecutor after months of delays, part of a European Union-required reform of the judiciary needed to be able to start accession talks to the bloc.

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President Maia Sandu appointed Ion Munteanu as the nation’s general prosecutor after he obtained the highest score in a selection competition, ending months of a limbo during a long vetting process marked with scandals.

Munteanu, the current interim top prosecutor - who previously worked for almost a decade in the anti-corruption department - now takes on the post on a permanent basis.

“We need to sanction corruption acts and we need honest and professional people in charge in the justice system,” Sandu said Saturday in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital.

Read more: Moldova Likely to Start Talks to Join EU Soon, Commissioner Says

The vacancy was triggered by the ouster of the previous chief prosecutor, who was suspended in 2021 due to alleged corruption, which he denies.

The appointment is aimed at helping Moldova meet crucial criteria set out by the European Commission as part of its EU accession process.

Moldova received candidacy status to join the EU in 2022 and may start formal entry talks at the end of June provided it shows significant progress in judicial reforms. Its goal is to join the EU by 2030.

Moldova’s judiciary has been rocked by several scandals and accusations of corruption over the past few years, especially in the wake of a massive $1 billion fraud that’s yet to be recovered. The EU’s requirements aim to boost momentum for the judicial reforms, including by appointing independently-vetted prosecutors and judges.

The vetting process itself has been rife with scandal, and both Sandu and Prime Minister Dorin Recean have repeatedly warned that the justice system is posing unexpectedly strong resistance to reforms.

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