|About us |
|Civil Society |
|Points of view |
|Useful information |
Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VI, issue 111, February 1–15, 2008
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
The mandate of deputy of Victor Stepaniuc, who was recently appointed deputy prime minister, was declared vacant.
Alexandru Lipcan, lawmaker on behalf of the Our Moldova Alliance, has tendered resignation from the subcommittee in charge with parliamentary control on the Information and Security Service (ISS). Lipcan said that the work of the subcommittee is a screen which mimics the democratisation in the area, and the subcommittee was created to mislead European structures that demand the reformation of the security sector. In reality, ISS is influenced by Moldova’s president and the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, with the activity of this structure being politicised, especially in the recent period.
The Parliament has taken note of the resignation of Constantin Rotaru as member of the electronic media watchdog CCA. According to a parliamentary decision, Rotaru was relieved from this office on basis of "his demand", while he has earlier said that the "CCA is politicised" and this is the reason of his resignation. A contest was opened for this vacancy.
1.2. Legal acts
Law on conflict of interests.
The document was updated but the implementation and transparency mechanism in this area are regulated superficially and inadequately so far, with the parliamentary majority avoiding the participation of the public and mass media, though these subjects are capable to produce serious effects in preventing and combating the conflicts of interests.
Law on probation. The document aims to build a legal basis for functioning of the probation service, facilitate the reintegration of former detainees into society.
Law on modification and completion of the law on notary office. It extends the possibilities of the Ministry of Justice to intervene and suspend the activity of notaries who obstruct legal controls.
Law on modification of the law on the bar. Under new regulations, attorneys may provide legal assistance only on basis of a contract registered with he Bar, except for the representation of interests of relatives.
Draft Conduct (Ethic) Code of public functionary. The elaboration of this document was stipulated by the central public administration reformation strategy, and this act was delivered to the Parliament in 2006. Although it is being studied with a two-year delay, the document is imperfect and parliamentary debates on this act fuelled controversies and objections regarding some regulations capable to limit the transparency of authorities, independence of functionaries. On the other hand, aspects related to depoliticising of the public service are not tackled sufficiently and clearly.
Draft law on meetings. The document approved in the first reading was stipulated by the 2005–09 legislative programme and priority action plan on implementation of the European Union – Moldova Action Plan in 2007. The main news includes the introduction of some principles such as proportionality, non-discrimination, legality and presumption in favour of meetings. These principles shall prevent abuses by authorities in relations with persons willing to peacefully manifest their ideas and attitudes at meetings in public places. Authorities hope that this law will help Moldova get rid of the Council of Europe’s monitoring, contributing to the European integration of the country this way.
Draft law on protection of investments. The document proposes rights and obligations for the creation, legal protection and exploitation of investments. According to developers, the law will build the framework needed to implement international regulations, with the norms meeting the acquis communautaire.
Draft law on protection of brands. This document was also drafted accordingly to international and community laws in the area, aiming to update the existing legal framework.
Draft laws on international trade arbitrage and internal arbitrage. The new regulations aim to update the legal framework on extra-judicial alternatives of settlement of economic litigations on an amicable way by appealing to national or international arbiters. The drafts adopted in the first reading are part of a package of laws stipulated by the E.U.-Moldova Action Plan.
Draft law on modification and completion of the law on legal acts. According to the legislative initiative voted in the first reading, the Parliament alone will be authorised to approve policy documents such as "state strategies and concepts" (the Government will be authorised to approve state plans and programmes). Legislators failed to establish the category of the legal act under which the documents concerned will be approved: decision, ordinary law or organic law.
Note: According to preliminary estimates by ADEPT experts, the Government, Parliament and President of Moldova have approved more than 280 policy documents in 2001–07, which is nearly 7-fold more than in 1995–2000. The high number of such documents, lack of complex monitoring mechanisms encourage situations when provisions from precedent documents still are effective, though new acts are adopted and they substitute or modify the essence; some regulations contradict other similar acts; the texts are often very vague, and thus the names of documents and actions and even their essence are modified ad-hoc.
Draft law on modification and completion of the Execution Code. Under amendments, legal executors could be authorised to demand law courts to restrict persons with patrimonial debts to leave the country, if their departure obstructs the execution of judgments.
1.3. Parliamentary control. Statements
The chairman of the Parliament told the annual conference of judges on February 8 that the first parliamentary hearings scheduled for March will focus on justice and Moldova’s cases at the ECHR.
The parliamentary majority has refused to hear the prosecutor-general in the parliament regarding the criminal case filed against journalist Constantin Tanase, who is accused by Prosecutor’s Office of stirring up the enmity or national splitting. The parliamentary opposition describes actions by the Prosecutor’s Office as selective, biased and capable to encroach on freedom of expression.
Also, the parliamentary majority and speaker of the Parliament refused to discuss the problem of holders of entrepreneur’s patents, who were picketing the Parliament and demanded the abrogation or modification of the law which suppresses their activity.
Sixteen lawmakers representing opposition factions have submitted a simple motion to the Parliament, accusing the Government of irresponsible attitude towards state-protected monuments and seeking the dismissal of the minister of culture and tourism. They said that the minister did not stop the illegal demolition of a building included in the register of state-protected monuments. The parliamentarians demand the Prosecutor-General’s Office to investigate the illegal demolition and file a case against guilty functionaries. Also, the motion recommends the Government to report the condition of state-protected monuments and planned measures to protect them.
The chairwoman of the National Liberal Party, Vitalia Pavlicenco, has asked the Prosecutor-General to argue the accusation against director of the Timpul newspaper Constantin Tanase and consequences of his statement, which allegedly harmed the public interests. Also, she demanded explanations why the Prosecutor’s Office did not react to statements by Moldovan president, who said that he is not a "president for Romanians" and violated the right of citizens to an equal treatment in society.
In another interpellation, the NLP leader demanded the Prosecutor-General’s Office to explain if after the examination of the "Oferta Plus vs. Moldova" case, in which the ECHR has recently sentenced Moldova, was established that the international human rights tools were deliberately violated or for a grave guilt, and if elements of the offence were established.
Speaker Marian Lupu has told the annual conference of judges that the Parliament focuses to strengthen the judiciary and ensure the independence of the judiciary by modifying the legislation in effect. According to the speaker, the following would be key accomplishments in this area: the consolidation of SCM; the updating of the judge nomination procedure; the introduction of legal guarantees to improve the organisational, administrative and financial activity; the ensuring of impartiality, transparency, enhancing the responsibility of judges. The faults would include among others: the big number of cases lost at the ECHR; the imperfect management, the insufficient transparency and impartiality; the low quality of the justice; the corruption; the insufficient number of judges; the low capacities of the apparatus of courts, etc.
The Our Moldova Alliance has released a statement regarding "abuses committed by governance to maintain the political control at any costs." The document accuses the central government of brutal and disdainful treatment of local authorities representing the opposition. It signals the persecution of disobedient local councillors, enhanced competences, number of territorial administrative control directorates of LPAM and number of their employees (GD #
10 from 17.01.2008), these being one more argument for the accusations.
The National Liberal Party has released a declaration accusing the ruling party of persecuting journalists. In particular, it invokes the case of journalist Constantin Tanase, who is the subject of a criminal case filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.
The parliamentary faction representing the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) has released a statement condemning manifestations which it describes as xenophobia. The PCRM says that opposition lawmakers and party leaders tried to camouflage the statement by journalist Constantin Tanase "by citing European values", while articles published by the newspaper and statements by director of this publication aim "to destabilise the situation in Moldova and sabotage the Transnistrian settlement initiatives by Moldovan president."
The faction representing the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) has released a statement regarding the situation of the electronic media watchdog CCA and Board of Observers (BO) of the broadcasting company "TeleRadio-Moldova", raising concern with the politicising of the CCA and legal persecution of some (BO) members.
2.1. Appointments. Dismissals
Ion Perju was nominated deputy minister of agriculture and food industry. Previously, Perju headed a directorate in the same ministry.
Mihai Vieru was relieved from the post of deputy chief of the Government Apparatus, as he has changed his job.
- Concerning measures aimed at development and technical-material ensuring of the sector operative police service for 2008–2010;
- Concerning introduction of passports and other travel documents containing supplementary biometrical data;
- Approving the regulation on acquisition of commodities and services by demanding price offers;
- Concerning uniforms for clerks of law courts;
- Concerning activity of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre in 2007.
Decisions approving programmes, concepts, strategies:
- The action plan on implementation of the National Development Strategy for 2008–2011;
- The land transportation infrastructure strategy for 2008–2017.
Decisions approving draft laws:
- Concerning modification of the law on Government (it stipulates the dissolution of the Ministry of Industry and infrastructure and takeover of its functions by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce);
- Concerning modification of the Code of Administrative Contraventions (severer sanctions for salary arrears);
- Concerning privatisation of fields and measures to ensure military of the National Army with housing (the Government reacted inclusively after the recent loss of a case at the ECHR for failure to ensure the housing of a military).
Decisions on allocation of funds:
- The Licensing Chamber is allocated 320,000 lei from the reserve fund "to purchase a car";
- More than 130,000 lei are allocated to cover occasional expenses for organisation of official receptions by Moldovan president (in the Russian Federation and on occasion of winter holidays).
2.3. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Medium-term expense framework
Prime minister has convoked a working sitting on elaboration of the expense framework for 2009–2011, stressing that basic principles of the draft document shall be in a tight correlation with the National Development Strategy and Government’s Action Programme. Key directions of the budgetary-fiscal policy for the next three years shall ensure at least a 6-percent annual growth of the Gross Domestic Product, maintain the annual inflation rate below 10 percent, increase salaries, pensions and scholarships accordingly to the objectives from the Government’s Action Programme. It shall focus on sustenance of the real sector of economy, renovation of infrastructure, maximal optimisation of capital investments by concentrating on key objectives and preventing the dispersion of funds, attracting deposits from individuals in investment projects on basis of public and private partnership. The premier underlined the importance of hardening the public expense policy by introducing a stricter control on the use of public funds, as well as of revising the taxation policy in order to attract investors in the rural sector.
Sustenance programme for sector police inspectors
The Interior Ministry has reported the elaboration of a programme on development and technical-material ensuring of the sector operative police service for 2008–2010 and meetings with potential donors – donor financial organisations which agreed to help financing actions stipulated by this programme. The prime minister stressed the necessity of urgently approving the document, noting that all measures will be implemented in parallel, so that to resolve problems related to endowment of police sectors with computers, telephone connection, and other necessary equipment by late February. As 2008 was declared the Year of the Youth, Vasile Tarlev demanded the inclusion of actions aimed to support all policemen who will work in the territory in the plan on implementation of the programme concerned.
Moldovan president has modified the structure of his Apparatus, creating the post of advisor for foreign policy and European integration. Tudor Vasilica, section chief in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, was appointed to the new office. (Previously, Vasilica has served in the diplomatic service).
The chief of state has awarded the Honour Order to journalist Rita Tvic, director-general of the "Novosti-Moldova" News Agency.
3.2. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Implementation of policy documents
A sitting on implementation of national programmes and strategies has studied the implementation of the Governing Programme "Modernisation of Country – Welfare of People", National Programme "Moldovan Village", gasification programme, EGPRSP, national sustained agro-industrial development programme, a number of sectoral programmes. Summing up the presented reports, the Moldovan president sought the mobilisation of efforts to execute all ongoing national strategies, noting that ongoing programmes will continue in 2008. Vladimir Voronin stressed the importance of:
- A rigorous coordination of budget expenses with strategies and plans in budgetary exercise, so that to ensure funds for strategic actions, otherwise they are not implemented;
- Intensification of coordination and efficient use of foreign financial assistance in order to enhance the investment attractiveness, stimulate the distribution of investments and business activity in rural areas;
- Improvement and correlation of the existing labour remuneration system in order to prevent big salary differences from a sector to another;
- Continued consolidation of farm land by extending agricultural cooperatives and building technological machine stations (TMS);
- Opening of branches of associations of producers and processors of ecological agro-industrial products;
- Modernisation and opening of new modern enterprises to process agricultural production in rural areas;
- Building of a competitive economy: domestic goods shall be competitive on domestic and foreign markets, correspond to European standards;
- Continued gasification of localities, accelerated adoption of decisions on gasification works inside localities;
- Ensuring the energy security of the country, development of internal energy resources, etc.
Execution of Moldova-E.U. Action Plan
A sitting convoked by Moldovan president has studied the implementation of the Action Plan in the light of latest developments in the dialogue with the European Commission. According to a brief press release, future concrete actions in the fields of democratisation, freedom of the media and human rights, business climate and anti-corruption fight have been planned.
Criminal penalty policy
The chief of state has called for the examination of the opportunity to revise the Penal Code in terms of discrimination and humanisation of the state punitive policy. Vladimir Voronin noted that starting 2001 the number of inmates has decreased by more than 2,000 persons, and another approximately 500 persons will be released after the recent amendments to the Penal Code. At the same time, there were 7,895 inmates in prisons or 230 persons per 100,000 residents, which is 2–3-fold more than in West European countries, and related statistics of East European countries, new or future E.U. member states disfavour Moldova. The president raised concern and perplexity over exaggerated detention for economic and patrimonial offences, reiterating the need of a multilateral and urgent examination of this issue on basis of European legislation and practice. The Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor-General’s Office jointly with national and European experts and the Supreme Council of Magistracy will objectively revise the criminal norms with the view to update and adjust them to European standards, and the set of recommendations will be delivered to the Parliament by September 1, 2008.
Note of ADEPT: Moldova’s president asked the Parliament on January 25, 2006 to create a working group for a multilateral examination of policy, legislation and punitive practice with the purpose to improve the situation in the area. It was noted then that the existing legislation does not stipulate a reasonable, coherent and efficient penalty system, and therefore, citizens, public opinion do not often understand the punitive policy of state bodies and do not trust them. Voronin sought then stricter sanctions, particularly for very grave and dangerous crimes, violation of ecological legislation, travel rules, anti-fire security norms, sanitary norms, etc.
Situation in penitentiaries
The situation in prisons was described as unsatisfactory at the sitting. Moldovan president called for efficient actions to improve the detention conditions, rebuild cells accordingly to international norms. In particular, the sitting focussed on the Penitentiary # 13 in Chisinau, which does not respect the norms on protection of inmates. The president asked competent bodies to consider possibilities to evacuate the prison concerned from the Chisinau downtown into another building outside of the Chisinau municipality, with an offer of a Dutch company being described as interesting.
Optimisation of social assistance system
A sitting chaired by chief of state has examined the implementation of a previous initiative on optimisation of the social assistance system, in a move to financially assist only families in need. In order to accomplish this objective, a new social aid will be introduced on September 1, 2008 and will be granted after a testing of the necessity on basis of estimation of some "welfare" indicators. The future aid will be established on basis of the difference between the guaranteed monthly average earning of the family and the overall revenue of the family. According to preliminary estimates, approximately 70,000 families (about 250,000 persons) will benefit of the new social aid, additionally to the present beneficiaries of social assistance. Vladimir Voronin underlined that the mechanism of testing the needs of a family is a basic element of the new system and it shall be just and fair, it shall neither be bureaucratised nor stigmatise families seeking the social aid.
Elaboration of "Encyclopaedia of Moldova"
The chief of state reported actions aimed to elaborate the "Encyclopaedia of Moldova", in particular, the registration of the public institution Encyclopaedia of Moldova, creation of a working group to elaborate the general concept of the encyclopaedia; conduct of researches needed to finalise the methodological framework. Voronin invited all participating parties to be very responsible and noted that the elaboration of the "Encyclopaedia of Moldova" shall become a priority of the plan on cooperation between the Government and the Academy of Sciences of Moldova in 2008.
Implementation of entrepreneur’s patent reform
Participants in the sitting have exchanged opinions regarding the execution of the Law # 208-XVI and examined reactions of the subjects who fall under this law. According to a report by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, more than half (2,600) of patent holders who fall under the incidence of the first and second stages of implementation of this law have already changed their organisational form, registering individual enterprises and limited societies. Functionaries of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Fiscal Service, certification bodies are in a permanent touch with patent holders, in order to explain them the law and the mode of activity of former patent holders. Technical problems occurred in the territory were signalled after an exchange of opinions and it was noted that they are particularly linked to the third round of implementation of the law, which will begin in 2009. A representative of the Small Business Association recommended a considerable rise of the cost of patents instead of the change of the organisational form, citing an USAID study which finds that the fees paid to the state by individual enterprises are equivalent to those paid for activities based on current patents. The chief of state noted that the patent system in Moldova was a way for some categories of citizens to remedy the consequences of the deep economic crisis and now this system and the whole national economy are developing and shall approach civilised, European norms.
Conference on Security Policy
Moldova’s president has addressed the 44th Munchen (Germany) Conference on Security Policy, and he met Daniel Fried, U.S. assistant secretary of state, and Javier Solana, high representative of the European Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
1. Inflation and prices
Price rise: eventual forecasts…
Prices of food products and fuels have strongly increased on foreign markets in 2007. Tools and levers used by the National Bank of Moldova to dam up the inflation have partly succeeded. However, the rise of petroleum and wheat prices on international markets is mostly exogenous shocks that no central bank can defeat. They fuelled the inflation besides the drought and the rise of local administrated prices. Influences of the inflation growth late last year will affect this year, too.
Prise rises and eventual salary claims of trade unions and employers could turn into an eventual social crisis. Although Moldova is now at the phase of a "yellow code" regarding the rise of prices of majority basic products, trade unions have resumed the pressures to obtain higher salaries. Ceding to them would mean higher earnings for certain categories of workers, but the price-salary spiral may push the economy to a recession. Latest inflationist pressures affected the evolution of the real salary Diagram 1.
One more serious reason to fuel prices was added in late January, in particular, dearer natural gas and electricity supplied to private consumers. In addition, the public agenda was filled up by warnings from some producers, who say that the price rise will be unavoidable, fuelling this way the governmental forecasts. This is the effect: a necessity to increase salaries at least accordingly to prices has naturally appeared. It will mean an additional expense from the budget uncompensated by higher revenues, which unbalances more the economic indicators. This fact may make foreign experts and assessors give negative marks and thus the confidence of investors towards domestic economy may decline.
The annual inflation is expected to exceed 10 percent in the first half of this year and to temper in the second semester, reaching 10–11 percent in December, if the agricultural year will be "normal". But there are also factors capable to halt the decline of inflation such as salary rises, an "easier" budgetary execution, besides the "fiscal revolution" tools introduced earlier this year and a further rise of petroleum price.
Diagram 1. Evolution of main economic indicators, annual rates in %
Source: NBM and NBS reports
2. Financial-banking sector
Measures that the NBM has directly or indirectly taken to attenuate the inflationist expectations last year could increase the interest rate on credits. Credits could become dearer soon, both because of direct methods applied by the central bank and on background of a shorter liquidity on market, aimed to limit the growth speed of credits. This trend was already observed in the crediting policy of many domestic banks. More than that, the NBM accelerated this year its interventions on monetary market, "swallowing" the liquidity excess and maintaining the bank interests at a level closed to the key interest (16 percent). On the other hand, many analysts notice that the rise of interest rates is unavoidable under current market conditions.
Now the average interest on a classic deposit for a 12-month term in a domestic bank is a little higher than 4 percent. But clients often signal that they do not gain anything after deducing the inflation rate and eventual fees. In other terms, the real output is negative; it means that the interest paid by a bank does not protect against inflation, in particular, when the inflation is pretty high. Interests on deposits should be higher than the basic interest of NBM – 16 percent. This would be a fair rate, given the demand-supply relation on market, inflation rate and requirements imposed by the central bank.
As deposits are not a special investment, state securities (HVS) may provide high interests. But the access of people to such securities is quite difficult. However, now small and medium banks shall affirm themselves. Some of them are already offering higher interests than the medium rate on market, winning room in front of other financial-bank institutions. Or, the competition would accelerate under such conditions, as no bank would accept to lose its clients and would have to increase the interests.
Diagram 2. Standing of banks regarding return on earning ROE in %
3. Foreign trade
Exports increased, but slower than imports…
Moldova’s commodity exports in 2007 were estimated at about 1.34 billion dollars and rose by 27 percent compared with 2006. Moldovan exports to the European Union increased by more than 26 percent last year, while deliveries to the CIS advanced by nearly 30 percent. The following were the main partner countries of Moldova in terms of exports in 2007: the Russian Federation, Romania, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Belarus, Poland, Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom and North Ireland. Textiles and items, appliances and devices, power appliances, mineral products, vegetal products, footwear, other commodities count for more than 83 percent of the Moldovan exports.
At the same time, imports were worth nearly 3.69 billion dollars and rose by 37 percent compared with 2006. Imports from the European Union have grown by 38 percent, while those from the Commonwealth of Independent States increased by about 31 percent. Important rises were registered for transportation means and materials, food products, drinks and tobacco, plastic materials, medications, detergents, and others. The big difference between the evolution of exports and imports accumulated a trade deficit worth over 2.3 billion dollars in 2007, which is by 43 percent higher than in 2006.
4. Labour market
Medium salary up, but living standards did not improve…
The nominal medium salary on economy accounted for 2,063 lei (about 170 dollars) in 2007 (enterprises with at least 20 workers) and it increased by 22 percent compared with 2006. However, the 2007 inflationist pressures hit the evolution of the real salary, which increased by only 8 percent on average. The medium wage in budgetary sector amounted to 1,625 lei (130 dollars), while the average salary in the real sector of economy accounted for 2,292 lei (182 dollars). The medium salary of a worker in December 2007 was 2,630 lei, by 20 percent more than in December 2006. The medium salary in budgetary sector accounted for 1,832 lei, while the wage in real sector amounted to 3,054 lei.
Efforts to resume "Five-Plus-Two" negotiations
On February 1, 2008, Minister of Reintegration Vasilii Sova, the presidential advisor for political affairs, Mark Traciuk, and the head of the directorate for international agreements of the department for international law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Dumitru Socolan, had consultations in Moscow with high-ranking officials of the Russian Federation participating in the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, the deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, Yuri Zubakov, ambassadors with special missions Valeri Keniaykin and Valeri Nesterushkin, and the deputy chairman of the second department for CIS member states, Nicolay Fomin. According to the Moldovan presidential press service, the consultations aimed to fortify the confidence measures between Chisinau and Tiraspol with the view to resume the "Five-Plus-Two" negotiations as soon as possible. Socolan’s participation in consultations raised suspicions of the Moldovan opposition, which said that secret documents on Transnistrian settlement are being prepared.
While on a visit to Moscow on February 12–13, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "to intensify the diplomatic dialogue between the two parties, in order to reach an agreement regarding the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict." They stressed the need of "drafting Russian-Ukrainian initiatives aimed to relieve the "Five-Plus-Two" negotiation process. In this respect, the Russia-Ukraine Action Plan signed by the two presidents stipulates that experts from the two countries shall elaborate coherent approaches by 2009 in a move to settle the Transnistrian conflict. The following basic principles were established: the Transnistrian conflict shall be settled only on basis of respect for Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; Transnistria shall be awarded a special legal status. The fact that the two presidents discussed the Transnistrian conflict while tackling matters related to the Russian-Ukrainian relations means that neither Russia nor Ukraine want the "Kosovo precedent" to extend on Transnistria for national security reasons. This is a positive signal for Moldova, which discloses the bluffs from the past three years of a great regional power.
Could hostilities restart?
In spite of optimistic statements by Moldovan authorities, Transnistrian leaders of the highest ranking deny any possibility to rapidly settle the conflict on basis of schemes elaborated by President Voronin. Such statements were regularly delivered in continuation by Transnistrian administration head Igor Smirnov, foreign minister Valerii Litskai, but the most interesting statement which runs counter Smirnov was delivered by speaker Evgheniy Shevchyuk, who stated to the Moscow-based magazine "Kommersant" that the secessionist region could hold a new referendum on Transnistria’s status and early parliamentary elections. Such a referendum would make sense if guarantors and mediators of the negotiation process accepted its results. Shevchyuk’s statement is based on his confidence that the results of an eventual referendum would favour the independence of Transnistria. Indeed, by delivering such a statement, Shevchyuk steps on the field that Smirnov had earlier used and held different kinds of referendums. Thus, Shevchyuk attracted the Transnistrian "expert community" which backed his idea. But Smirnov replied immediately. He said in an interview with the Russian newspaper "Profily" that he has plans to create a "ministry of territories" in order to recover localities which he thinks should be controlled by Transnistria but they are under the jurisdiction of Chisinau so far. The Bender-based newspaper "Novoye Vremya" supposes that the localities concerned are in the district of Dubasari on the left bank of the Dniester River controlled by Chisinau, suburbs of the Bender municipality and the village of Copanca. According to "Novoye Vremya", there is no other way to "recover" the territories but the armed one, and it signalled the danger of a new war aimed to boost the rating of Smirnov versus Shevchyuk. Moldovan Minister of Reintegration Vasile Sova confirmed these concerns at a February 9 seminar themed "Transnistrian dialogues".
Representatives of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service have tried to stop the chairwoman of the Transnistrian parliamentary law commission, Galina Antiufeeva, to cross the Ukrainian territory. She was summoned to leave the train on Moscow-Chisinau route at the border with Ukraine. Following some clarifications, Antiufeeva was authorised to continue her way. In her turn, Antiufeeva considers that Ukrainian border guards have something against his husband Vladimir Antiufeev, security minister of Transnistria. On the other hand, there are opinions that the incident is a deliberative and very suggestive signal for Transnistrian leaders. In this respect, it was invoked the recommendation from the October 2007 European Parliament Resolution to limit the move of Transnistrian leaders for unwillingness to resume the negotiations, as well as the fact that Ukrainian authorities feel the danger of Transnistrian separatism for Ukraine.
The dispute around the 2007 Transnistrian budget is not over. The Tiraspol leader vetoed 21 clauses and only seven of them have been settled after consultations, and the Supreme Soviet is expected to lift the veto for another 14. Smirnov is unsatisfied that a special fund was created and Transnistrian legislators have plans to fulfil their electoral promises by using it; also, he says that some budgetary categories limit the freedom of the executive subdivisions to do their work.
Energy tariffs will grow proportionally with the rise of the Russian gas price. In 2007 Transnistria raised debts worth 202 million dollars for 1.41 billions cubic metres of gas. Now it owes 1.6 billion dollars to Gazprom. Starting 2008, Transnistria should pay 192.75 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres of gas, which is by 23 dollars more than in 2007. Consumers will cover all consumption costs. The gas price is expected to grow up to 257 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres by 2011. Transnistrian leader Smirnov and Kira Lukianova, member of the Russian State Duma, discussed the Transnistrian debt for Russian gas on February 4. Smirnov raised very curious and interesting pretensions towards Russia. He was irritated that Transnistria pays approximately 190 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres of gas but sells it to main consumers, Russian enterprises, in exchange for 100 dollars only. "It means that willing to help Russian enterprises, Transnistria has to work in its detriment, as the tariff difference becomes a foreign debt." Smirnov did not explain why and who obliges Transnistria to work in own detriment, but he claims that he is the president of an "independent state". Are these doubtful tariff manipulation schemes or a policy coordinated with Russian authorities? Smirnov hinted that he has repeatedly called upon Russian authorities to resolve this problem, but now he has to appeal to the State Duma, too. It is interesting if Moldovan authorities will react or not to elucidate the doubtful schemes, in particular after Smirnov said on different occasions that Transnistria’s debt for Russian gas is actually the debt of Moldova, since Moldova-Gaz signs the gas delivery contracts with Gazprom.
Human rights in Transnistria
Transnistrian unionists have signalled a critical situation in the city of Dubasari because of low salaries of medical personnel, which earn less than the average monthly salary (approximately 140 dollars). There are 726 doctors and nurses in Dubasari, of which 96 are doctors. Nurses earn only approximately 70 dollars a month. The medical personnel are at the limit of subsistence as prices grow quickly. Doctors called on Transnistrian authorities but their problems were ignored.
The Supreme Soviet decided to increase salaries of Transnistrian prosecutors who rank the 9th place in the top of public institutions from the region as regards earnings. Thus, a prosecutor in Transnistria will earn now 375 dollars a month, while a district prosecutor will be paid 250 dollars. A recent survey conducted in Transnistria signalled a non-confidence towards the judiciary from the region (62 percent), which is regarded as the most corrupt institution.
Transnistrian minister of information and telecommunication Vladimir Belyaev has prohibited the weekly radio broadcast "Proriv". Producers of the programme patronised by Transnistrian security ministry officer Dmitriy Soin said that the prohibition of airing access is a proof of complete strangulation of the freedom of expression in Transnistria. They accused Belyaev of imposing methods practised by Goebbels to direct the mass media, "affecting the new democratic image of Transnistria" this way. "Passionate" producers of this programme added that the hostile attitude towards them is a result of revealing of corrupt mechanisms.
The death of two soldiers of the Transnistrian army in the last half a year was a reason for the Supreme Soviet to hear Transnistrian prosecutor Igor Railean. Of course, Transnistrian officials wanted to hide the causes of the two deaths and accuse the healthcare system for recruits. In their turn, healthcare system representatives indicated the shortage of funds to test the health of recruits, noting that the testing is primitive for this reason.
Election of Russian president in eastern districts of Moldova
The "public council" of the Transnistrian security ministry is enhancing the activism of the 85,000 Russian citizens from Transnistria. The "public council" invites citizens to participate in the March 2, 2008 Russian presidential elections because "it is hard to overestimate Russia’s role in Transnistria’s fate." Following the January 22 visit of President Voronin to Moscow, Russian authorities decided to reduce the number of polling stations in Transnistria from 24 bureaus opened for the December 2, 2007 parliamentary elections, down to 23. At the same time, Russian authorities sent a suggestive signal to Chisinau, rounding the Transnistrian constituency to the Kaliningrad one. As Moldovan authorities did not react to these actions, being probably satisfied that the number of polling stations in eastern districts of the country was reduced, President Putin accused the West of double standards and support for the Kosovo separatism, at the longest news conference on February 14, 2008.
Sources: www.nr2.ru, http://www.olvia.idknet.com, kommersant.ru
Visit of European Commissioner Ferrero Waldner to Moldova
Mrs. Benita Ferrero Waldner, European commissioner for Foreign Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, was on a formal visit to Chisinau on February 14–15, 2008. In Chisinau, the European official has met President Vladimir Voronin; Speaker Marian Lupu; Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev; Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Stratan; and Chisinau Mayor-General Dorin Chirtoaca. Also, Benita Ferrero Waldner visited the Moldova State University and addressed students and professors.
Mrs. Benita Ferrero Waldner has reaffirmed what was said in December 2007 and January 2008 that the European Union will consider the possibility to sign a new agreement with Moldova only "after the complete implementation" of the E.U.-Moldova Action Plan (EUMAP). Nor in December 2007 the announcement of this possibility was new, as the EUMAP stipulates such a perspective. Given the state of things regarding "the accomplishment of objectives of this Action Plan and the general evolution of the E.U.-Moldova relations" in the initial three-year implementation deadline of this document, the European Commission has proposed the extension of the EUMAP implementation process with one more year, until February 2009. Tackling the future E.U.-Moldova relations, Waldner said, while on a visit to the Moldova State University, that she is sure of the willingness of both sides to promote their relations at a higher level and hopes that the future report by the European Commission concerning Moldova’s progress within the European Neighbourhood Policy will allow such an evolution.
While meeting Moldovan officials, Benita Ferrero Waldner has praised authorities for the success in implementing the EUMAP but signalled problematical fields which require more efforts. The problematical areas signalled by the European commissioner are those that E.U.-Moldova cooperation bodies and the European Commission have earlier indicated, in particular, the mass media, the independence of the judiciary, the anti-corruption fight and the business environment. Also, Waldner reiterated the need of effectively enforcing the laws adopted during the implementation of the EUMAP.
President Voronin has assured that Moldova will implement the new regulations and will organised the 2009 parliamentary elections, which he described as "the first and perhaps the most important test for Moldova," in a democratic, transparent and free way.
Launching of communication strategy on European integration of Moldova
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI) presented, at two successive events in early February 2008, the communication strategy on European integration of the Republic of Moldova approved on December 29, 2007.
The strategy aims to ensure the systematic distribution of information about E.U., access of the public to information sources regarding the E.U., and to provide Moldovan citizens with the opportunity to participate more actively in the European integration process. The strategy stipulates the organisation of a series of actions, including surveys, radio and TV broadcasts, roundtables, seminars, conferences, workshops, debates, opening of regional information centres, building of a portal and publishing of a newsletter on Moldova-E.U. relations, etc.
An action plan for 2008 was approved in this respect.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu has told a news conference that the Republic of Moldova will be in 2008 one of key beneficiaries of development assistance projects administrated by the Romanian Foreign Ministry. By providing this assistance, Romania would like to help Moldova approach the E.U. as close as possible. At the same time, he assured that Romania will continue supporting projects aimed to approach Moldova and NATO, particularly because the neighbouring state has been awarded the second consecutive NATO contact point mandate for the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau.
Cioroianu indicated among key objectives of Romania in relations with the Republic of Moldova in 2008 the development of consular services and mobility facilities granted by Romania to Moldovan citizens.
On occasion of the February 14 BSEC Meeting in Kiev Adrian Cioroianu has met his Moldovan counterpart Andrei Stratan. The ministers reviewed issues related to the Moldova-Romania relations and agreed to accelerate the finalisation and signing of documents designed to regulate the political and border relations between the parties.
Republic of Moldova – Russia
A round of Moldovan-Russian consultations finished in Moscow on February 1. According to the presidential press service, the talks focussed on the Transnistrian settlement. The press service fell short of revealing other details about the Moscow consultations, encouraging this way interpretations and hypotheses by observers of the Moldova-Russia relations in the context of the Transnistria settlement process. Many of them indicated previous allegations regarding an eventual "secret deal" on settlement of the Transnistrian conflict negotiated by Chisinau and Moscow.
Of course, many Russian and Moldovan officials were sure after bilateral meetings of diverse levels that the relations between the parties have been remedied. Given this confidence, Chisinau hopes that the ascension of the Moldovan-Russian relations could bring a solution to the Transnistrian conflict. In addition, President Voronin indicated other three factors while addressing the February 9, 2008 44th Security Policy Conference in Munchen, saying that they are susceptible to help settling the Transnistrian conflict, in particular:
- Moldova is at the crossroad of important geopolitical ensembles. It blends elements of several ethno-cultural heritages and it is an area where "tens of nationalities and languages are in an intercommunity," without facing interethnic conflicts. In other terms, Moldova "is Europe", Voronin concluded, an area based on diverse values, tolerance and opening.
- Moldova is a neutral area, while the neutrality may be a serious guarantee of stability and security, if it is internationally recognised (by Russia, Ukraine, the E.U. and the U.S.).
- All the factors participating in the Transnistrian settlement agree that Transnistria must receive a well-grounded status as part of a unitary state.
Republic of Moldova – Latvia
Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins was on an official visit to Chisinau on February 4–5. He met his Moldovan counterpart Andrei Stratan, with the latter thanking Latvia for assisting Moldova, in particular, in the European integration process. At the same time, Minister Stratan stressed that Moldova needs a clear political signal from the E.U. in order to know that the E.U. recognises its accession prospect, and hopes that the E.U. will agree on the need of a new cooperation framework with Chisinau, seeking the support of Latvia for this purpose.
Republic of Moldova – BSEC
Kiev hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Organisation Foreign Ministers and a joint meeting of the Black Sea and E.U. Foreign Ministers. Moldova was represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Stratan.
Minister Stratan has delivered two speeches expressing the vision of Moldova regarding the further development of BSEC and mechanisms of cooperation between BSEC and E.U. In the first case, the minister stressed the need of developing economic relations between countries in the region, liberalising the visa regime, especially for businesspersons, academia and art representatives. In the second case, Stratan welcomed the configuration of the Black Sea Synergy built by the E.U. to catalyse and harmonise the cooperation process between countries in the Black Sea area and the E.U., underlined the need of a greater E.U. participation in the BSEC area in fields such as transportation infrastructure, energy systems, environment, struggle against organised crime, inter-human relations, etc.
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
Joint CoE-E.U. programmes
Following the signing of 2008–09 joint cooperation programmes between the Council of Europe (CoE) and E.U. for the South Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova in December 2007, Strasbourg hosted a meeting to plan activities within these programmes in early February. Taking part in the meeting was also a group of Moldovan dignitaries led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Valeriu Ostalep. Ostalep said during discussions on the CoE-E.U. joint programmes that the priority directions of cooperation between Moldova and CoE include among others the free and fair elections, freedom of expression and mass media; development of partnership with civil society; promotion of non-judicial human rights protection mechanisms; protection of rights of the Roma minority.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has passed three judgments against Moldova in the period concerned, in particular, Oferta Plus SRL vs. Moldova, Guja vs. Moldova and Flux (no.4) vs. Moldova. Moldova was sentenced for violation of rights to a fair trial, protection of property, freedom of expression. It will have to pay 2,535,104 million euros or about 41,322,195 lei in the case Oferta Plus SRL vs. Moldova, this amount being larger than all damages paid by Moldova until now (about 1.98 million euros or 32.64 million lei). Moldova will have to pay 2,558,417 euros or about 41.70 million lei in damages in the three cases lost in early February.
The ECHR has sentenced Moldova in 113 cases until now..
1 Damages for all cases amount to approximately 4.54 million euros or 74.34 million lei.
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Party institutionalisation and elections
Igor Botan, 15 February 2008
The Moldovan democracy is imitative like other East European democracies. This term is sanctioned and it indicates that the borrowed forms filled with domestic consistence are adequately manifested very seldom
Maxim Kuzovlev, 15 February 2008
The desire to see anybody else but not Igor Smirnov ruling Transnistria challenges information waves in the Moldovan and foreign mass media