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Statement by U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr and Read-Out on Visit to Bucharest, Romania for EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial

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June 19, 2019

Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on His Visit to Bucharest, Romania for the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial:

“Romania is one of our strongest partners in the fight against transnational crime.  With Romania’s assistance, we have been able to investigate and extradite members of organized criminal groups engaging in worldwide skimming and cyber-enabled fraud operations.

Romania also provides critical support to DEA on counternarcotics operations.

Our partnership has historically been rooted in a deep commitment to the democratic values of the rule of law and good governance, and a shared understanding that these form the foundation for increasing our shared security and prosperity.

My visit to Bucharest for the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial provided the opportunity to reaffirm that the rule of law is an enduring principle, and that all persons, institutions, and entities should be governed by and held accountable to laws that are just, publicly promulgated, and enforced equally and impartially.

I appreciated in particular the opportunity to meet with Romanian leadership, including my Justice counterpart, Ana Birchall, to discuss the importance of preserving the rule of law and restoring anti-corruption efforts.  We are grateful for Minister Birchall’s engagement and strong support for these important priorities. We hope that, with her leadership, and that of other Romanian officials, Romania will reverse recent amendments that threaten to undermine the ability to fight corruption, and we are confident that Romania will take steps to ensure an efficient, transparent and impartial judiciary.

I look forward to deepening our partnership and continuing our close law-enforcement collaboration with this critical ally.”

Attorney General William P. Barr's Visit to Bucharest, Romania 

On June 16th – 18th, Attorney General William P. Barr traveled to Bucharest, Romania, to attend the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial during the Romanian Presidency of the EU. The purpose of the EU-US Ministerial meeting was to ensure that the European Union and the United States continue working closely to fight terrorism and transnational crime. The Ministerial focused on counterterrorism topics, including foreign fighters and countering violent extremism, as well as on migrant smuggling, election interference, and access to digital evidence/cybercrime.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General met with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Viorica D?ncil?, and Minister of Justice Ana Birchall to discuss bilateral law enforcement priorities and commitment to the rule of law.  The Attorney General stated his support for the reinstatement and strengthening of Romanian anti-corruption laws and emphasized the importance of preserving a shared commitment to the rule of law and a neutral and even-handed system of justice.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Barr co-chaired the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting.  The Attorney General opened the Ministerial by noting that the meeting demonstrated a united and coordinated front against terrorists and other criminal groups, noting the practical steps taken together by the U.S. and the EU: increasing the sharing of identity information and evidence regarding foreign terrorist fighters collected by U.S. military and coalition forces on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, working together to promote cybersecurity and fighting cybercrime, strengthening our electoral systems and protecting them from foreign interests by sharing experiences and efforts, and collaborating to bring down dark markets used to traffic weapons, drugs, and all forms of criminality.

On aviation, drone and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRN) threats, the Attorney General noted that the FBI – in its role as our lead counterterrorism investigative agency – works closely with European agencies to share threat information and stated he looks forward to deepening those partnerships.

The Attorney General also discussed successful US-EU efforts in addressing criminal smuggling organizations, noting that DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) and International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) established, mentored, and equipped a number of anti-smuggling task forces and investigations in the region – including Serbia’s migrant smuggling task force – with significant results in terms of arrests and seizures.

The Ministerial participants noted in particular the success of Operation Passport, an international law enforcement partnership fighting terrorism, human trafficking and migrant smuggling among Europol, OPDAT, ICITAP, State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, DHS, and the FBI, resulting in over 200 law enforcement operations, with 190 evidentiary reports to support prosecution. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/)

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