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Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, II year, no. 35, 27 July 2004
Activity of public institutions
Studies, analyses, comments
I. Activity of public institutions
1.1. Legal acts
The Parliament adopted the Law on Ratification of the Convention on Standards of Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights and Liberties in the Member States of the Community of Independent States. However, the document adopted by the Parliament includes several reservations, thereby:
- Convention provisions shall not apply on the territory of the break away Transdnistrian region;
- Some of the Convention provisions shall be applied in as far as they do not run counter to the national legislation. Therefore, the following provisions were viewed as running counter: citizens shall be allowed to exercise their right to vote by hosting early elections, voting outside the polling station or via other voting procedures that would create more comfort to the voters.
Reservations also apply to Articles that provide for respecting the right to direct vote means that citizens may vote against all candidates and/ or list of candidates.
The document ratified by the Moldovan legislators includes provision on: standards on democratic elections, right to universal vote; right to direct vote; secret vote; periodic and binding elections; transparent and public elections; free and fair elections.
In addition, the following principles were clarified: conducting elections by electoral authorities; funding for elections and electoral campaigns of the electoral contestants and political parties (coalitions); informational assistance provided by the state in elections and to campaigning; status and responsibilities of domestic observers; status and competencies of international observers; appeals and liability for violating electoral rights and freedoms; measures that shall not be considered discriminatory, etc.
Law on the Modification of Legal Acts Related to Pensions for Dignitaries was necessary as the Resolution of the Constitutional Court no. 9 of 30.03.2004 declared unconstitutional a string of modifications operated to the laws regulating retirement of the deputies in Parliament, members of the Government, public officers and local elected officials, etc. The law voted by the Parliament enforces the previous provisions that were valid until January 1, 2004.
According the provisions of the law, deputies and members of the Government who served at least two years, would retire at the age of 62 (men) and 57 (women) provided they have at least a 30 years of work experience would be entitled to a pension equal to 75% of the average monthly income. Public officers and would be entitled to a pension equal to 75% of the average monthly income, provided they worked for at least 15 years in the relevant position and have a work experience required by the law. Local officers would be entitled to a pension equal to 75% of their average income, provided they served in office at least 8 years.
Via the Law on Completing the Law on Privatization a new provision was added to the law thereby the state does not guarantee the right on property on entities privatized in Transdnistria, if the privatization was not coordinated with the legal authorities of the Republic of Moldova.
Another act adopted by the Parliament is the Law on Exempting Compensations as Regards the Changes of the Plots, thereby Ministry of Transportation and Communications was exempted from paying compensations worth 1.5 million Lei for changing the purpose of the agricultural plot in Chisinau, str. Calea Basarabiei. It is planned to build there a new bus station covering north routes, which is to replace the one located in downtown.
(For further details on Parliament activity see http://www.e-democracy.md/en/comments/legislative/)
- After June 16, Government accepted to grant Central Electoral Commission additional funds worth 878,459 Lei. Government decided to raise the salary of the CEC full-time staff. Government motion reads "supplements for fulfilling tasks of major importance and high professionalism" shall be established, thereby the salary of a councillor would reach 1,813 Lei.
- According to the Government Action Plan for the 3rd quarter of 2004, on July 21 Government endorsed the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between Republic of Moldova and Bulgaria. Parliament recently ratified a similar agreement with Croatia, therefore Free Trade Agreement with Bulgaria is the last one to be ratified between Moldova and member states of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to be ratified by Moldovan legislators.
II. Economic policies
1. Foreign competition
One year was enough for the Republic of Moldova to loose five points in the UN human development index, and go down from 108 place in 2003 to 113 in 2004, stated Eric Brunat economist expert of the UN during a press conference held in Chisinau last week.
As regards other countries of the CIS, better-off are Azerbaijan (91), Georgia (97), Uzbekistan (107), Kyrgyzstan (110), while Tajikistan worse-off (116).
Experts say Moldova's rating dropped largely due to the changes in methodology of calculating GDP against purchasing power in 2002. To compare the living standards in different countries, GDP should be related to purchasing power, which eliminates the differences in the national price levels.
The results are not so encouraging for Moldova. According to last year economic development we have been far more competitive as regards growth potential than Indonesia, Venezuela, Turkey, Guatemala, Nigeria, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Honduras, Zimbabwe and Haiti. At the same time, we are lagging behind all European countries, some Latin America, Africa and Asia, which despite economic crisis managed to stay on good positions, i.e. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay or Trinidad-Tobago.
Ludmila Tiganu, Mass-media Coordinator at the UNDP office in Moldova mentioned that other main indicators like life expectancy, level of enrolment in schools remain steady. The report is prepared on a yearly basis based on such indicators as income of the population, life expectancy and schooling level. This year report includes 175 UN members States.
2. Hard times for gas supply debtors
Republic of Moldova requested Russian Federation to restructure the historic debts on the gas supplied by "Gazprom", communicated Andrei Stratan, Minister of Foreign Affairs after returning from his official visit to Moscow. "Republic of Moldova hopes to get its debt incurred during the last 10 years restructured, since the last year's debts were fully paid" stated Minister Stratan.
According to Russian press citing data from "Gazprom", as of May 1, 2004 Republic of Moldova's debt on gas, including penalties, amounted to 1.2 billion USD. Last year Transdnistria's debt (including penalties) amounted to 305.2 million USD. Total debt of Transdnistria for gas is currently estimated at 961.2 million USD.
Recently, Chisinau redeemed at a price of 50.135 million USD bills worth of 114.5 million USD issued in 2000 to "Gazprom" in the account of a portion of debts incurred in 1996 and 1997. To redeem the bills, National Bank granted a credit to the Government worth 50 million USD (around 600 million Lei) for a five year period.
III. Transdnistrian Conflict
Economic "miracles" in Transdnistria
According to "Olvia-press", GDP of the Moldavian Republic of Transdnistria reached 76 million USD in the first quarter of the year, a 19,7% growth against similar period of 2003, as a result of booming privatization. According to the same source, citing data released during the joint session of the Committee for Foreign Policy, fiscal bodies and other departments, industrial output surged by 72,4%, while foreign trade by 57%, amounting 296 million USD. Investments in fixed assets surged by 44% in the first quarter and reached 59.3 million Transdnistrian Rubbles (7.54 million USD).
On the other hand, inflation rate reached 9.74% compared to 2.8% in 2003. Prices on food surged by 11.52%. For the sake of comparison, Republic of Moldova registered in the first quarter of this year a 6.1% economic growth, the highest in the last 15 years. GDP amounted to 5,6 billion Lei (465 million USD). Foreign trade surged to 573.9 million USD. As for the fixed assets, 26 million USD were invested. Cumulative inflation rate in the three months amounted to 3%.
IV. Foreign affairs
1. Moldovan - Russian relations
Shortly after President Voronin's recent visit to Moscow to the informal Summit of the CIS heads of state, Moldovan Minister of the Foreign Affairs Andrei Stratan flew to Moscow as well. Topping his official visit agenda was the meeting with his Russian counterpart, Serghei Lavrov.
According to Russian press, the two Ministers considered "all the spheres of interaction, including economic ones". In this respect, the Two agreed to sign an inter-ministerial plan of consultations for 2004 - 2005 that would strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two parties.
Settling Transdnistrian conflict was topping the agenda. In fact, on the eve of the meeting Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated through its Spokesman Aleksandr Iakovenko that Transdnistrian issues would be given due consideration.
Referring to Transdnistrian problem, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that "Republic of Moldova and Russia plead for speeding up the resolution of the problem. /…/ Transdnistrian problem should be settled by preserving territorial integrity of Moldova and by coordinating the status of Transdnistria".
As for the Russian peacekeepers, the head of Russian diplomacy stressed that their mandate was valid, especially as it represented an important mechanism for ensuring negotiation process. Russian diplomat had the same opinion as regards the pentagonal negotiation format, that had to remain unchanged, but made more efficient.
In addition, privatization in Transdnistria was another issue on the agenda, Minister Stratan reiterated official position of Moldova thereby it was illegal as it was done without Chisinau's consent to it.
Yet another issue considered by the Two diplomats was the Stability and Security Pact for Moldova. Russian diplomat indicated that Moscow had no essential objections to the Moldovan President's initiative that "falls within the negotiation process in view of settling Transdnistrian conflict".
2. Annual reunion of the heads of diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Moldova
Last week Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the annual reunion of the heads of Republic of Moldova consular and diplomatic missions abroad. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press service, diplomats reviewed the enforcement of the foreign policy component of the Government Plan as well as current tasks lying ahead of Moldovan diplomacy. Noteworthy, Government Action Program for years 2001-2005 "Revival of economy - revival of the country" includes a chapter on foreign policy including among others:
- Consolidation of sovereignty, statehood and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova;
- Developing and enforcing National Strategy of Republic of Moldova Integration into the European Community and other international communities;
- Examining the issue of Republic of Moldova's adherence to Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and later on possibility to join economic structures of Russia-Belarus;
- Extending mutually advantageous cooperation with USA;
- Multilateral development of traditional relations with neighbourhood countries Romania and Ukraine;
- Extending relations with Western Europe, especially with Germany, France, UK, Italy and Netherlands;
- Promoting a more active cooperation with countries in the Black Sea region, Central Europe and Southeast Asia;
- Active participation of the Republic of Moldova in the activities of UN, OSCE, and Council of Europe;
- Extending Republic of Moldova's participation in regional organizations that aids the country's integration into European structures.
As no significant progress was registered so far in any of the aforesaid directions, regress even being registered in some of them, Minister Stratan pointed to the need of focussing on European integration, although no breakthroughs were registered here as well, except for some minor institutional ones. Nevertheless, institutional innovations introduced (National Commisision for European Integration, European Integration Department, Parliament Commission for European Integration) have been not very encouraging in terms of their efficiency. Evidence to this are: delay in developing European Integration Strategy of the Republic of Moldova and Action Plan for its enforcement; ambiguous Conception on Republic of Moldova Integration in European Union.
Minister Stratan paid a great attention to the Republic of Moldova - EU Action Plan and the need to improve the cooperation between diplomatic missions and central authorities so as to capitalize on all its provisions. Other recommendations of the Minister Stratan referred to: joint efforts to involve international community in the settlement of the Transdnistrian conflict; Moldova's Embassies should be more active in helping its citizens solve their problems, in attracting investments and technical assistance into the country, in bolstering trade and protecting Moldova's economic interests.
V. Studies, analyses, comments
What happens after ECHR' ruling?
Igor Botan, 27 July 2004
The first reaction of the Russian Federation to the ECHR's judgement on "the case of Ilascu" paved the way for the Transdnistrian authorities' saying. As it was to be expected, Transdnistrian reaction was far more radical
Moldova - Transnistria: Rules for Business
Liliana Agarcova, 27 July 2004
A meeting of businessmen from Moldova, Transnistria and Gagauzia (Cocieri/Dubasari) was scheduled for early July. There have already been several meetings of this kind. They are held actively, but rarely - politicians hamper