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    People re-decorate a shop as Romanians waving a flag fill the Calea Victoriei, a main avenue of the Romanian capital, during a large protest in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.

    Romania Lashes Out at EU Over ‘Second-Rate’ Treatment

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    Political divisions and rifts are becoming more acute as Romania prepares to take over the EU presidency.

    Romanian officials slammed the European Union for treating their country as "second-rate," while Bucharest prepares to take over the EU's rotating presidency, a report by the Associated Press said Monday.

    Mihai Fifor, a Romanian Social Democrat leader, criticized EU officials, including current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, for their remarks about Romania.

    "Romania is under special [EU] monitoring. Romania is treated like a second-rate nation by some EU officials," Fifor wrote Sunday, adding that Romania "will no longer take being scolded or sanctioned for things that happen everywhere in Europe."

    On Saturday, Juncker said in an interview that while Romania may be "technically well-prepared," he has doubts about whether the country is politically fit for the role of EU president.

    Romania is under special monitoring over long-time charges of corruption and concerns about the rule of law, the AP report says. The country is also still not a part of passport-free Schengen zone.

    Not unlike many other Eastern European countries, Hungary and Poland included, the Romanian government insists Bucharest should be able to adopt its own laws. Of particular concern are the so-called anti-corruption prosecutors, with Romanian authorities claiming they have too much power.

    In July, the Romanian government dismissed chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, who is said to have been a driving force behind the prosecution of hundreds of lawmakers, ministers and other top officials in recent years. The mass prosecutions have earned Kovesi praise from the US and EU, AP notes. She has still not been replaced.

    Another Romanian Social Democrat leader, Liviu Dragnea, whom AP calls "the country's most powerful politician" and who was imprisoned for abuse of office in July, is demanding amnesty for "thousands of Romanians" he claims have been wrongfully imprisoned through anti-corruption efforts. Dragnea has appealed his sentence, and the hearing is scheduled to take place during Romania's EU presidency.

    During their visit earlier in December, a group of EU ambassadors headed by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz praised Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for the prosecutions, saying the president "watches and reacts" to the "negative developments."

    Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, an ally of Dragnea and occasional critic of Iohannis, lashed out Sunday at EU officials, saying they had been misinformed by the media, AP reports. There is a rift between the centrist Iohannis and Romania's left-wing government, according to AP. Criticizing Iohannis for representing Romania in the EU, Dancila argued that it was the government's job to do so instead.

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    presidency, criticism, corruption, EU, Klaus Iohannis, Jean-Claude Juncker, Romania
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