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Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year V, issue 89, February 1–16, 2007
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
The majority of parliamentarians have appointed Valeriu Gurbulea as Prosecutor-General. Opposition lawmakers have indicated certain biased actions taken by the candidate when he ran his former offices (prosecutor, secretary of the Supreme Security Council, first deputy prosecutor-general). Gurbulea denied that certain cases have been filed for political reasons and he assured that he did not participate in persecution of some opponents of the governance. As regards the reformation of the Prosecutor’s Office, Gurbulea said that this institution is generally reformed and only its place in magistracy must be established. The new prosecutor-general said about cases of resonance, in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sentenced Moldova, that the ECHR did not find out abuses in filing cases and it sanctioned Moldova for violation of human rights (detention conditions, degrading treatment), without examination of the essence of the case.
The Parliament has appointed the first members of the Administrative Board of the National Agency for the Protection of Competition:
Although it was included in the agenda and debated for a long period, the draft decision on appointment of some judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (N.Budai, S.Caitaz, E.Zinenco) was not adopted so far. Objections raised by chairman of the legal commission for rules and immunities against skills of some candidates and existence of some ECHR judgments that condemn Moldova inclusively for decisions by one of the candidates challenged controversial discussions. Opposition lawmakers noticed that the parliamentary majority appreciate candidates under political aspect, too, with chairman of the Christian Democratic faction warning that these attempts and attitudes of the majority affect the parliamentary political consensus.
- Director-general of the agency Viorica CARARE, chairwoman of the Administrative Board appointed for a 5-year term;
- Deputy director-general of the agency Ion ECHIM, member of the Administrative Board appointed for a 5-year term;
- Deputy director-general of the Agency Eugen GLADII, member of the Administrative Board appointed for a 5-year term.
1.2. Legal acts
Law on protection of personal data. An independent national centre for the protection of personal data will be created under this law (the executive has initially recommended that ombudsmen exert these functions), and it will take care that the personal information be processed accordingly to the law. The new law regulates the conditions of collection of information, storage, processing and use of personal data and it aims to guarantee the protection of the right of individuals to private life.
Law on prevention of HIV/AIDS infection. The law establishes the legal base of actions taken to prevent the spreading of HIV/AIDS infection by reducing new cases of infection, stopping the exponential growth of epidemic and reducing its impact, ensuring medical and socio-psychological assistance for persons suffering from HIV/AIDS, members of their families, guaranteeing respect for their rights. Some objections have been raised when the draft was debated in the first reading and later, including by civil society, religious groups. Opportune recommendations have been taken into consideration to finalise the law.
Law on modification of the law on civil status acts. By modifying this law, the range of candidates to the post of chief of the civil status service was extended (a long work length in this office (civil status bodies) was earlier needed, but now the law says that the work length in the "public service" is enough.
The draft was tabled by Communist lawmakers, but opposition representatives feared during debates that the amendments follow lobbyist interests in favour of some persons in territorial administration who claim these offices.
Draft law on audit activity. It proposes provisions on organisation of audit activity, rights, obligations and responsibility of the sides involved, required by adjustment of audit activity to international practice and regulations (control on quality of audit works, insurance of activity, keeping registers of bidders, creation of the council for the supervision of audit activity, etc.).
Draft law on limited societies. The document approved in the first reading aims to regulate the mode of constitution, functioning, reorganisation particularities and mode of closing limited societies. Essential provisions envisage the number of founders and minimum registered capital needed to found a limited society (30,000 lei compared with 5,400 lei at present).
Draft law on aeronautic security. It aims to regulate social ties linked to security and protection of passengers, crews, aeronautic personnel, population, airships, installations and services of airports that serve the civil aviation against illicit interventions, in order to ensure aeronautic security by introducing an ensemble of measures aimed at protection of civil aviation against illicit interventions. Opposition lawmakers criticised the activity of the State Administration of Civil Aviation (staff policy, training, deficient financial management, conflicts with operators and foreign administrations). Communist lawmakers also accused SACA of trying to extend the control on areas that do not rest with its competences (security, control, combat of violent acts).
Draft law on national ecological network. The document proposes a legal framework for creation and development of the national ecological network as part of the pan-European ecological network, establishing of a regime of protection and use of functional elements of the national ecological network, competences and obligations of public administration authorities in this field.
Draft law on modification of some legal acts on pharmaceutical activity. Following provisions could be included in the law on pharmaceutical activity and Code of Administrative Contraventions:
- State nomenclature of drugs and classifier of drugs used in various automatic information systems;
- Practicing of pharmaceutical activity on basis of the automatic information system for record of drug circulation;
- Elaboration and implementation of automatic information systems that ensure the introduction of controlled and legally made or imported drugs on pharmaceutical market;
- Obligation of all pharmaceutical enterprises and institutions regardless of their organisational-legal form, form of property and subordination to distribute drugs only with the condition to reflect the circuit in the automatic quantity record information system;
- Sanctioning (a fine between 1,000 and 20,000 lei) of those practicing pharmaceutical activity without the automatic information system for drug circulation record, incompetent or/and wrong use of this automatic system, voluntary changes, non-presentation of reports in due terms, release or/and presence of medications without latent band in stocks.
1.3. Parliamentary control. Statements
Questions and interpellations
Deputy minister of economy and commerce has reported the implementation of the law on salary system in budgetary sector to the Parliament. The executive will propose a gradual salary rise in 2007 and about 338 million lei is needed for this purpose. Salaries of various categories will grow by 25–50 percent in late 2007.
Our Moldova Alliance (OMA) Deputy Anatol Onceanu has appealed to the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Centre for the Struggle Against Economic Crimes and Corruption to control the legality of privatisation of the channels Antena C and Euro TV, "financial capacities of new owners to respect the contractual conditions, origin of finances, legal and financial condition of these persons, their financial guarantors."
Communist Deputy Elena Bodnarenco has asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to consider the legality of a meeting held by Dumitru Braghis in the city of Soroca.
OMA Deputy Valeriu Cosarciuc has asked the prime minister to elucidate the aspects related to prices for gasification of households and the price formation methodology.
Social Liberal Deputy Igor Klipii has asked the prime minister to report methodological criteria of calculation of estimates for works financed from public funds, to explain how planners are selected and what control mechanisms the Government is applying. Klipii invoked in this respect statements by Igor Semenovker, chairman of the Building and Territorial Development Agency, regarding violations and embezzlements admitted by functionaries and entrepreneurs.
Deputy Valentia Cusnir has asked the Government to explain concrete measures taken to improve the situation in vine growing and winemaking sector and relieve the crisis. Deputy Cusnir has also asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to report on investigation of disappearance of Vlad Cubreacov in 2002.
Deputy Zoia Jalba has asked the Government to present legal grounds why the faculty of veterinary medicine was deprived of a block of studies, as the National Institute of Justice was placed in these headquarters.
Christian Democratic Deputy Stefan Secareanu has asked the Government to report on implementation of amendments to the law on rehabilitation of victims of political repressions. According to information invoked by Secareanu, central and local authorities continue to delay the process of restitution of property and compensation of its value.
Moldova’s speaker has outlined the tasks of parliamentarians in a speech delivered at the beginning of the spring-summer session:
- socio-economic tasks: urgent implementation of the law on salary system in budgetary sector; adoption of legislation on redirection of social indemnities to the neediest groups of society; reformation of the child protection system; new law on privatisation; tax policy for 2008; creation and functioning of the so-called "mega-regulator" of extra-bank financial sector; package of presidential initiatives aimed at liberalisation of economy (enforcement of the law on basic principles of regulation of entrepreneurial activity (Law "Guillotine-2"); creation of a special commission for optimisation of the legal framework on regulation of entrepreneurial activity);
- Fulfilment of recommendations of the Council of Europe: package of laws on judicial reform (law on status and mode of organisation of activity of clerks of law courts, law on Prosecutor’s Office, package of amendments to the Code of Administrative Contraventions); law on political parties; next package of amendments on reformation of local public finances on basis of principle of decentralisation and consolidation of local autonomy; examination of the draft Education Code;
- Continuation of implementation of the Moldova – European Union Action Plan: respect for commitments established in the 2005–09 legislative programme; continuation of cooperation with the People’s Assembly of ATU Gagauzia (adjustment and conformation of local legislation to national framework);
- Consolidation of public-private partnership: inventory of the national legal framework in cooperation with partners from associative sector, identification of donors to launch the project;
- Procedures resulted from an initiative by chief of state and launch of plenary functioning of the anti-corruption survey of legislation;
- Parliamentary control.
The OMA faction has delivered several statements at plenary sittings, notably concerning:
Social Liberal Deputy Igor Klipii has read some statements on corruption in Moldova and demanded parliamentary hearings and creation of a parliamentary investigative commission to verify embezzlement of public money and stealing of money from population invoked by Igor Semenovker, director of the Building and Territorial Development Agency.
- "Undermining of welfare of people by ruling coalition" (suspension of salary rises for budgetary workers);
- Bad social-economic situation in Moldova;
- "Use of the Supreme Security Council to usurp the Power" (some direct indications by state authorities under SSC decisions);
- Disagreement with higher gas tariffs and prices for citizens.
2.1. Appointments. Reshuffles
The Government has reconfirmed Grigore Belostecinic as rector of the Moldovan Academy of Economics.
Decision on creation of the centre for the adjustment of legislation in accordance with criteria of the European Union. The centre subordinated to the Ministry of Justice will examine draft legal and normative acts, will monitor the compliance of national legislation with criteria established by acquis communautaire. The executive will allocate 1.2 million lei from its reserve fund to finance the activity of the centre in 2007.
Decision that approves the national programme ensuring the ecological security for 2007–2015. Under the document, starting 2007 the national system for monitoring of air quality will be modernised, a regulation on quality of surface waters and norms for used waters will be elaborated, draft laws on sanitation of Moldovan localities, on dangerous waste, on management of chemical substances will be worked out. Central and local authorities will approve departmental and local plans ensuring ecological security and will periodically report on implementation of the national programme to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.
Decision on additional measures regulating the circulation of firearms and munitions. It allows the police bodies to authorise the possession, sale, keeping, holding and carriage of firearms and munitions from illegal possession of citizens who delivered them voluntarily to interior bodies. The Interior Ministry will establish the procedure of reception, examination and authorisation of illegal weapons and munitions delivered voluntarily.
Decision on commission for the selection of candidates for the post of judge to the ECHR. The 14-strong commission is headed by minister of justice and will select candidates by March 9, 2007, accordingly to a special recommendation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Three selected candidacies will be presented to the Government for a final internal decision and the candidate selected by Government will need the consent of PACE. The mandate of the acting Moldovan judge to the ECHR expires in October 2007.
Decision approving the programme on distribution of means from the traffic fund in 2007. Maximum profitableness limits of 10 percent for maintenance works and 7 percent for repairs are established for entrepreneurial organisations participating in implementation of this programme.
Decision approving the strategy on reformation of state framework regulating the entrepreneurial activity. The strategy is approved and it contains several sections (description of current situation; necessities of approach; improvement of direction system; ensuring quality of new regulations and improving the existing regulations; principles of regulatory reform; goals and objectives of the reform; expected results; eventual risks; monitoring of implementation). Also, the Government approved an action plan for implementation of the strategy. Central authorities will include in their action plans the actions needed to implement the strategy and will present periodical reports on execution of established measures.
Decisions approving some draft laws:
- on conflict of interests;
- on modification of law on salary system in budgetary sector (gradual rise of salaries of some budgetary workers).
2.3. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Permanent concerns with domestic trade
Reports on situation of domestic trade, measures taken by responsible officials were presented at a working sitting chaired by prime minister. Premier raised dissatisfaction with situation in the field, noting that an efficient trade system is not created on domestic market so far, not all rights of consumers are respected, adequate conditions of work for vendors are not created, transparent circulation of money is not ensured. In this regard, prime minister welcomed actions taken by Ministry of Economy to implement the reform in trade system, the regulatory reform and to simplify the accounting record modality. The Ministry of Health was asked to work out an action plan on protection of rights of consumers and implementation of a new methodology of monitoring of activities in domestic trade sector. Vasile Tarlev outlined the need of minimising the number of controls on economic agents and embittering punishments for violation of legislation. The draft law on internal trade will be consulted with factors participating in this process, including civil society.
Meeting with representatives of Moldovan Foreign Investors Association
A meeting between prime minister and representatives of the association focussed on a better investment climate, measures needed to attract more investments in national economy. Investors consider that the dialogue between central public administration and business community has developed very much in the past years and, therefore, many problems of businessmen have been solved. In particular, the taxation system was simplified after the fiscal burden was reduced, the legislation has improved, tax and monetary policies have become stable and predictable, the regulatory reform has developed. In this context, the prime minister opted for the elaboration of a joint action plan, which would include a package of coordinated actions and announced the elaboration of a programme aimed to combat corruption in public bodies.
Dumitru Diacov, chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova and leader of the parliamentary faction of the same party, was awarded the Honour Order for long and prodigious work in supreme state bodies, substantial contribution to a better legislation, intense organisational and public activity.
The chief of state has awarded the higher qualification ranking of judge to judges of the Supreme Court of Justice Sergiu Furdui and Sveatoslav Moldovan.
3.2. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Elaboration of the National Development Plan
President Vladimir Voronin has chaired a sitting on elaboration of the National Development Plan (NDP) for 2008–2011, at which the draft concept and structure of the document were presented. According to the draft, the NDP will be worked out on basis of five strategic priorities:
The future structure of the plan will cover the proper development strategy and the action plan, which will be worked out in compliance with the medium-term expense framework and updated every year in line with the budget law for the year concerned. The period of elaboration will cover three stages: the concept of the document will be established by March 2007; a detailed action plan will be worked out in April-August; public debates will be held in August-October and the Government and Parliament will approve the plan later.
- consolidation of a modern democratic state based on the principle of supremacy of the law;
- settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and reintegration of the country;
- increased competitiveness of national economy;
- development of human resources, employment and promotion of social inclusion;
- regional development.
The chief of state stressed the important role of civil society in elaborating the plan, outlining the need of developing this process in a maximum transparency and invited the governmental structured participating in elaboration of this plan to be very receptive in communication with civil society and to ensure a well-structured participative process. According to Vladimir Voronin, the document must have a very good quality so that to be supported by entire society, it must not be a plan of the power only, but one belonging to the entire society, which will actively participle in its implementation, regardless of political visions.
Participation in annual conference of judges
Moldova’s president has stressed in an address to participants in the conference that the reform implemented in the past years has demonstrated both willingness and capacity of judicial institutions to improve the mode of organisation, financing and functioning of law courts. Vladimir Voronin expressed a series of attitudes toward the judicial system:
Permanent concerns with situation in pharmaceutical sector
- monitoring of evolution of legal practice, which has a special importance for ensuring the enforcement of normative acts in an unitary mode and accordingly to the ECHR jurisprudence;
- more than 70 judges have been relieved from offices in the past six years in order to respect exigencies for judges and to combat corruption, while requirements for candidates and judges will grow in future;
- audio or video record of public sessions will ensure more transparency and will mobilise judges to be more exigent, to respect more strictly the norms of ethic and of procedure;
- blaming the entire judiciary for mistakes or inappropriate and harmful conduct of some judges is not accepted, the chief of state will treat every candidate fairly, impartially and exigently in line with the law;
- the image of judges in particular and of the justice in general must improve;
- the judicial system must learn democratic rules of dialogue with other state powers because the chief of state, executive and legislature have a political fundament that depends on perception of population that forms their electorate.
Vladimir Voronin has convoked a sitting on situation in Moldovan pharmaceutical system and outlined existing problems and established objectives for 2007. According to reports unveiled at the sitting, reforms promoted in pharmaceutical sector have some positive results: normalised situation on domestic drug market, stricter control on importation of medications and their quality, including due to the automatic information system introduced in this sector. The chief of state called on competent governmental officials to continue the ongoing actions, insisting particularly on need of intensifying the efforts aimed at implementing the automatic information system, improving the mechanisms of organisation of drug procurements, reorganising the existing system of pharmacies and creating a network of pharmacies independent of public medical-sanitary institutions. The priority tasks include among others the improvement of the mechanism of formation of drug prices, optimisation of the range of drugs on domestic market and ensuring of an adequate quality of medications. Also, operative measures were demanded to develop the domestic drug industry, develop the stock society Farmaco, and implement an investment project on organisation of first-need drugs in Moldova. The chief of state stressed the need of improving the legislation on pharmaceutical sector, process of accreditation and certification of domestic pharmaceutical institutions.
Facilitating connection to gas pipes
The state will finance the connection of residences of disabled people, participants in war, armed conflicts, and cleanup of consequences of the Chernobil disaster, doctors, teachers and specialists of various branches of activities from rural areas of the country to natural gas pipes. Moldova’s president has made this promise at a meeting with district chairmen, which studied the implementation of the national programme Moldovan Village in the last two years. Vladimir Voronin has asked the Government to work out within five days the methodology of regulation of prices for elaboration of projects and building of gas pipes in Moldovan localities because entrepreneurs are using exaggerated prices for these works and the state leadership should regulate them.
Permanent attention toward development of the Chisinau municipality
A sitting on social-economic development of the Chisinau municipality has made the totals of activities held in 2006 to develop the capital and studied projects that will be implemented in 2007. The chief of state appreciated the works aimed at modernising the Chisinau municipality and underlined the need of continuing the process of upgrading the municipality in a sustained pace, paying a special attention to quality of reconstruction works. Speaking about tasks of the 2007 development programme of the Chisinau municipality, Vladimir Voronin called for the soon elaboration of an action plan for the implementation of this document. He named among priorities:
Assembly of Academy of Sciences
- reconstruction of the entertainment area Valea Morilor;
- projecting and reconstruction of the National Stadium;
- reconstruction of the boulevard Dimitrie Cantemir (creation of a subdivision in municipal authorities to coordinate all actions aimed at modernisation of the boulevard);
- intensification of mortgage housing building, renovation of existing dwelling blocks and expertise and projecting of reconstruction of old dwelling places, etc.
Vladimir Voronin has addressed an annual meeting of the scientific forum and the main ideas are:
- self-organisation of researchers, democratic decision-making mechanism were completely justified and demonstrated efficiency; science is developing;
- discussions hold today refer to contents of scientific researches, new elaborations in specific fields;
- the especially big international aid used to study reforms in Moldova is distributed to specialists from different institutions and nongovernmental organisations, but the Academy of Sciences has also an intellectual potential capable to use better such an assistance. The Academy of Sciences must be an "expertise gate" of the country;
- the next partnership agreement between Government and Academy of Sciences must contain more concrete fields of "state order" (research issues, expected results, technological documentation);
- a special lycee and an university must be urgently created in the Academy of Sciences, etc.
1 The National Agency for the Protection of Competition is in charge with promoting the state policy on development of competition, protecting the competition, preventing, limiting and repressing monopolist activity and unfair competition of economic agents, public administration authorities in national economy. The law on protection of competition, which stipulated the creation of this agency, was adopted in 2000, but the creation of this structure was delayed, with experts saying that the protection of interests of monopolists who will be controlled by this agency and of some special rules aimed to limit the dominant position were the main cause.
2 It is worth to note that the strategy has appeared after the Parliament and Government took some measures in this regard (the laws on guillotine, methodologies of evaluation of regulatory impact, and others). The approval of the strategy in early 2007 leads to the conclusion that the previous approaches have not been "strategic" and evaluated well beforehand, they have been spontaneous and the need of establishing some criteria of principle, of system was observed when they were implemented.
1. Inflation and prices
Administrated prices could increase inflation…
The inflation rate rose by 0.9 percent in January 2007, compared with December 2006, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew for all groups of products. The annual average inflation would be 10.8 percent. Prices of food products rose by 1.4 percent in January, of manufactured goods increased by 0.8 percent, while tariffs of services granted to population grew by 0.2 percent.
The CPI for services granted to population calculated for January did not include the higher heating tariff in the Chisinau municipality, though the Chisinau Municipal Council increased on January 25 the tariff by 231.75 percent (2.4-fold), from 233 lei up to 540 lei per gigacalory. The Municipal Council ordered that the new tariff be introduced on January 1, 2007. The Government and the National Bank forecast a 10-percent inflation for this year.
2. Financial-bank system
Banks had the best evolution in 2006…
Assets of Moldovan banks exceeded 1.7 billion dollars in 2007, which is 44 percent of GDP (estimated for 2006). Bank assets in countries from the euro area exceed 100 percent of GDP. The domestic banking registered positive development trends in 2006. The 1st-degree capital of commercial banks has grown by about 35 percent compared with 2005 and exceeded 3.8 billion lei (292.31 million dollars). The share of foreign investments in capital of banks was 62.7 percent and it rose by 12.1 percent compared with 2005. This was mainly due to the rise of the registered capital on account of investments of non-resident shareholders.
…and their credit portfolio is on the permanent rise
The credit portfolio of banks has grown by nearly 3.6 billion lei up to about 13.1 billion lei. Credits released to industry and trade held the largest share in 2006 – about 49 percent, followed by loans for agriculture and food industry 18.7 percent, credits for real estate, building and development 10.6 percent, and consumption credits 9.2 percent. The share of credits for viticulture, winemaking and spirits trade amounted to approximately 1.54 billion lei in late 2006.
The net income of banking rose by 62.8 percent in 2006, compared with 2005, up to 691.7 million lei (over 53.2 million dollars). Bonds of banking totalled 18.84 billion lei, by 25.7 percent more than in early 2006. Deposits of individuals have especially grown in their structure – by 34.1 percent up to over 9.24 billion lei. All these facts are a proof that Moldovan banks are capitalised well and enjoy a strong profitableness.
3. Public finances
In spite of anaemia in productive sector, collections to the budget are on the rise…
Incomes of the state budget rose by 27.6 percent in January compared with December 2006, up to 808.3 million lei, despite of the unfavourable situation in productive sector. Basic revenues accounted for 735.6 million lei, which is 109.9 percent of the plan for the period concerned. They rose by 31 percent in comparison with January 2006. As much as 868 million lei was spent from the budget in January 2007 or by 88.5 percent more than in the first month of 2005. We note that the budget was executed 96 percent as regards expenditure.
In order to honour comitments on foreign loans, Moldova effected external payments in the amount of 2,8 million dollars in January, of them 1.7 million dollars in principal payment and 1.1 million dolllars in foreign loans. At the same time, 22.7 million lei was spent for the internal state debt service.
4. Foreign trade
Trade deficit count for about 56 percent of GDP in 2006…
The deficit of trade balance reached 1.64 billion dollars in 2006, by 36.7 percent more than in 2005, this being the highest level in the transition period. The deficit of trade balance is more than five-fold higher than in 2000. The condition of foreign trade has worsened in the past years and this phenomenon aggravated more the trade restrictions that Russia introduced against Moldovan exports in 2006. Although exports registered a rise trend in October-December 2006, deliveries declined by about 4 percent last year, down to 1.005 billion dollars. It was for the first time after 1998 when exorts decreased. At the same time, imports exceeded 2.69 billion dollars, by 17.5 percent more than in 2005. The import/export coverage rate in 2006 was 39 percent, compared with 47.6 percent in 2005.
Moldovan wine exports decreased by 45 percent in 2006…
Moldova exported wines and other alcohol drinks worth 173 million dollars last year or by about 45 percent less than in 2005, when exports totalled 313 million dollars. The wine exports have dramatically declined after the Russian Federation restricted them in March 2006. The Russian market was earlier absorbing 80 percent of Moldovan wine exports. The vine growing and winemaking industry contributed with nearly 1/3 to the Moldovan GDP.
Thus, if exports to the Russian market totalled 250 million dollars in 2005, deliveries to Russia turned over 45 million dollars in January-March 2005 before introduction of the embargo. On the other hand, if we exclude the Russian factor, wine exports to other countries have grown. Deliveries to Romania have grown 17-fold, exports to Ukraine have doubled and deliveries to Poland have gone up by 25 percent.
Following is the 2006 Top-10 wine importers from Moldova: Russia (45 million dollars), Ukraine (37 million dollars), Belarus (36 million dollars), Romania (24 million dollars), Poland (4 million dollars), Germany (1.7 million dollars), Latvia (1.49 million dollars), the Czech Republic (1.44 million dollars), Bulgaria (1.26 million dollars), and the United States (1.2 million dollars). Last year, Moldova exported wines worth 132 million dollars to the CIS, while deliveries to the European Union were valued at 11.6 million dollars.
A try to restart the "Five-Plus-Two" negotiations in the mid-February failed. We recall that mediators and observers of the Transnistrian settlement process sent letters to Chisinau and Tiraspol, inviting them at a new round of negotiation on February 15–16, after the Madrid consultations in late January. The Chisinau authorities gave green light to this invitation and confirmed their intention to attend the February round. On the other hand, the Transnistrian side did not give a clear response to the Madrid invitation, refusing the participation with only a couple of days before the round of negotiations. By releasing a press statement on February 15, 2007, the OSCE Mission to Moldova was disappointed with failed negotiations, but fell short of revealing the guilty. The Ministry of Reintegration has also released a communication, expressing disappointment and puzzle with failure of the round of negotiations because of absence of some participants, without invoking any grounded reasons.
Earlier, the head of the Tiraspol "supreme soviet", Evgeny Shevchyuk, has earlier told a meeting with the E.U. special representative for Moldova, Adriaan Jakobovits de Szeged, that a fair solution to the Transnistrian conflict will not be found as long as the Transnistrian region is facing economic and political blockades. According to Shevchyuk, the Transnistrian side will kick off its participation in negotiations only after the methods of force will be given up, because thus Transnistria will face unfair conditions and will be unable to protect itself.
It is worth to mention that the Tiraspol legislature annulled on January 31, 2007 a January 6, 1993 decision by the "supreme soviet" on creation of a confederation with Moldova, as well as decisions by the "supreme council" concerning creation of a federation and creation of a Moldovan-Transnistrian commission in 2003 to work out the constitution of the federal state. Transnistrian "speaker" Evgeny Shevchyuk motivated these decisions with adjustment of the stance of the Transnistrian region on Moldova to the foreign policy concept of Transnistria, results of the September 17 referendum and "constitution" of the region. At the same time, Shevchyuk noted that the annulment of these acts does not mean the refusal of the Transnistrian side to participate in political negotiations with Moldovan authorities.
Munich Conference on Security Policy
Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Stratan referred among others to efforts of Moldovan authorities to settle the Transnistrian conflict, at the February 9–11 Munich Conference on Security Policy. The Moldovan minister reiterated the decision of Moldovan authorities to find a lasting political solution to the Transnistrian conflict on basis of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova. Minister Stratan raised concern with inefficiency of the present peacekeeping mechanism in the Transnistrian region and called for replacement with joint peacekeeping forces with an international mandate. Stratan asked Russia to honour the decisions of the 1999 Istanbul OSCE Summit and to withdraw its military forces and munitions from the Transnistrian region. At the same time, Minister Stratan expressed hope that the E.U. will strengthen its role of guarantor of European security with a bigger contribution to the Transnistrian settlement process. The latter desideratum was also invoked by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who has asked the E.U. to support the territorial integrity of Moldova. According to Yushchenko, the Transnistrian conflict is not a secondary European problem. Yushchenko noted that the signing of a multilateral document to confirm the territorial integrity of Moldova would be opportune. "We must do our best to ensure the optimal settlement of this conflict," Yushchenko said in a speech in Munich.
At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has vehemently criticised the foreign policy of the United States and the eastern expansion of NATO, was unsatisfied that NATO member states refuse to ratify the Adapted Treaty of Conventional Forces in Europe as long as Russia keeps its military bases in Georgia and Moldova. According to Putin, the 1,500 Russian soldiers in the Transnistrian region are part of the peacekeeping operation in the region and guard the depots of munitions that remained in the breakaway enclave since the Soviet times.
The 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy is an important forum of decision makers and security experts dedicated to transatlantic relations and European and international security matters. The current edition brought together first-ranking officials and personalities from the whole world, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, E.U. Council Secretary-General Javier Solana, high representative for CFSP, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, etc.
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sentenced Moldova in two cases for violation of the right to a fair trial and protection of property.
The Strasbourg-based Court has obliged Moldova in the first case to pay 600 euros to Valeriu Avramenko in costs and expenses and the ECHR will establish later the pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. The applicant bought shares worth 34,000 euros in a state-owned enterprise at an auction held in May 1998. The Ministry of Finance was told to repay approximately 13,000 euros after the auction was annulled. Avramenko demanded an amount equivalent to the one paid for shares, but his application was turned down. This way, the right of the applicant to a fair trial and the right to protection of property were violated, according to the ECHR.
The ECHR has obliged Moldova in the second case to pay a pecuniary damage in the amount of 28,333 euros and another 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage to the society Venera-Nord-Vest Borta AG. Venera-Nord-Vest Borta AG has lodged an application with the ECHR as the Supreme Court of Justice of Moldova had violated its rights by quashing a judgment in its favour, at the appeal of prosecutor-general, and passed a decision to reject the claims of the plaintiff.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe held on February 13–14 the first meeting planned for 2007 for the supervision of the execution of ECHR judgments. The meeting also examined the non-execution of the judgment on Ilascu case and the answer of Moldova and Russia to the 4th Interim Resolution on this case.
Republic of Moldova – European Union
The European commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, was set to visit Chisinau in early February. However, her visit was cancelled, with the European Commission Delegation saying that the European official was feeling bad. The visit of Ferrero-Waldner to Chisinau should follow a meeting that she has recently had with Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan in Brussels. It is worth to note that Mr. Stratan has told the meeting that the gaining of the Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATP) and the negotiation of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements are the priorities of Moldova in the dialogue with the E.U.
According to Octavian Calmic, chief of the directorate general for trade policies of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), Moldova is expecting a draft decision by the European Commission on awarding of ATP by late February 2007. Further, the draft shall be coordinated with all E.U. member states in 6–7 months. So, Moldova hopes to obtain the ATP in the second half of 2007. Meantime, Chisinau will have to work more in order to enhance the credibility of the goods origin certification system, to improve the customs management and the auditing process at exporting enterprises. These are the main recommendations by a group of experts of the European Commission who have recently visited Chisinau to attend a meeting of the Moldova-E.U. Cooperation Subcommittee for Economy, Finance and Statistics.
As regards the signing of visa facilitation and readmission agreements, Brussels hosted the first round of negotiations in this respect on February 9, 2006. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, the sides did not identify differences of principle on the draft readmission agreement, while the details that must be specified have rather a technical nature. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration has said in connection with the draft visa facilitation agreement that the Moldovan side argued its demand for E.U. visa issuance facilities and European officials will "consult this issue accordingly to internal E.U. procedures." The Foreign Ministry assured that there are no reasons to describe the first round of negotiations as a failure, the way some media outlets have reported.
Hungarian Kalman Mizsei was appointed as E.U. special representative to Moldova, as the mandate of his predecessor Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged is over.
Kalman Mizsei has served as chief investment officer for Central and Eastern Europe with American International Group; chairman of the Hungarian Export Import Bank and of the Hungarian Export Credit Insurance Ltd.; vice president for Economic Programmes of the Institute for EastWest Studies; deputy director of the Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Mizsei has also acted as a senior advisor to governments of the region on their economic transition and reform, as well as on such issues as privatisation, debit relief governance, banking and bankruptcy reform. Before being appointed as E.U. special representative to Moldova, Mizsei acted between 2001 and 2006 as assistant secretary-general of the U.N. and director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Romanian President Traian Basescu stated to Pro TV Romania on February 4 that 800,000 Moldovan citizens seek Romanian citizenship and an assessment by Romanian authorities show that this figure could reach 1.5 million persons by the end of 2007. In the context, Basescu said that Romania would make a big problem to Europeans, if it awarded the Romanian citizenship to all applicants. For this reason, the Romanian president continued, Moldova should receive a European perspective like the Western Balkans. We recall that the Romanian president expressed this desire in the E.U. Parliament on January 31, 2007. Assuring the European parliamentarians that Moldovans subscribe to European values and, therefore, a European perspective must be considered for them, Basescu added that his country agrees that "the constitutional treaty and the institutional reform are the No.1 priorities of the E.U."
Romanian Minister of Administration and Interior Affairs Vasile Blaga recommended to the E.U. Justice and Home Affairs Council at a February 15 meeting that Romania coordinate the joint centre of E.U. member states, which will open in Chisinau to issue E.U. visas. The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration replied that "it is strange that Romanian authorities did not condescend to consult Moldova’s authorities, all the more the answer was negative, given the fact that Moldovan authorities are efficiently cooperating with Hungarian authorities starting August 2006 to open the visa issuance centre in Chisinau. The logic of launching such proposals with only one month before the inauguration of the centre is unclear."
According to the February 15 issue 79 of the Newsletter of the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior Affairs (MAIA), European Commission Deputy President Franco Frattini has welcomed Romania’s desire to participate in the opening of this centre and, following an agreement of principle, Romania will be able to start the preliminary procedures needed to create this centre either in direct coordination of Romania or in a formula of cooperation with other interested member states . According to the February 16 issue 80 of the Newsletter of the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior Affairs, the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Borders and Asylum will open talks on February 26 regarding concrete actions that will be taken to open the common European visa issuance centre in Chisinau .
Republic of Moldova – Ukraine
The former foreign minister of Ukraine, Boris Tarasyuk, has stated that the Ukrainian Ministry of Transportation and Communication is cooperating with Moscow to press Moldova in the carriage problem. Tarasyuk was quoted by Kommersant as saying that Ukrainian Minister of Transportation Nicolai Rudikovsky "has started deteriorating the relations with our partner from GUAM, Moldova, in Russia’s favour. The so-called capital renovation of the only railway bridge that links Moldova with the whole world via Ukraine has started this way." According to Tarasyuk, the construction of the railway communication junction Moldova-Ismail-Reni is blocked for the same reason and there were tries to block the flights operated by Air Moldova in Ukraine’s air space. The Ukrainian Ministry of Transportation and Communication described Tarasyuk’s accusations as groundless.
Republic of Moldova – Russian Federation
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has met with Moldova’s ambassador in Moscow, Vasile Sturza, and raised concern with non-accreditation of some Russian diplomats in Chisinau.
Moldpres news agency has quoted "knowledgeable sources" as saying that Karasin referred to the non-accreditation of Oleg Astakhov, charge d’affairs in the Russian Embassy to Moldova, for approximately half a year. The Russian diplomat, former co-chairman of the Joint Control Commission on behalf of Russia, should exert his second mandate in Chisinau.
As regards the resumption of Moldovan wine exports to the Russian Federation, Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Russian service Rospotrebndzor, said in Moscow on February 6 that they will return "soon" to the Russian market, but they will be "discriminated" at a first stage compared with wines from other states. The official noted that "all Moldovan wines will be separately controlled at the border at a first stage beside the internal control system and they will be able to enter the market later."
In this context, it should be noted that the Russian Federation did not unblock the Moldovan wine exports though the relief of Moldovan wine deliveries was announced at a meeting between Moldovan and Russian presidents two months ago. Moldpres has quoted Gheorghe Cozub, chairman of the Moldovan Union of Wine Exporters as saying that this state of things is explained by an informal indication to delay the restart of exports as much as possible.
Republic of Moldova – United States
After the E.U. has accepted to negotiate the liberalisation of the visa regime, the United States has also posted desire to begin a dialogue in this respect with Chisinau. The U.S. ambassador to Moldova, Michael Kirby, has proposed the consideration of possibilities to liberalise the visa regime, at a meeting with Moldovan Deputy Premier Andrei Stratan, minister of foreign affairs and European integration.
According to the press service of the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, representatives of U.S. and Moldovan consular services will meet soon to discuss the text of the future visa liberalisation agreement.
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Evolution of perceptions of social-economic and political situation (Part I)
Igor Botan, 16 February 2007
At present, the evolution of perceptions of social-economic and political situation in Moldova must be estimated for two reasons: the absolute victory of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) in the Parliament will turn 6 on February 25, 2007; the general local elections scheduled for late May-early June are being prepared
Heating, the dearest electoral agent
Iurie Gotisan, 16 February 2007
The introduction of reference prices for the heating supplied to population in the centralised system increased approximately 2.4-fold the price of a gigacalory starting January 1, 2007. Of course, a rise of heating tariffs was expectable after the natural gas prices have grown