|About us |
|Civil Society |
|Points of view |
|Useful information |
Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VI, issue 114, March 16–31, 2008
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
1.1. Appointments. Dismissals
On March 20, 2008, the Parliament "accepted" the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers. Commentary by ADEPT: A decision in this respect by Parliament is unnecessary and it is a political formality, as the legislation does not regulate situations when the resignation is not accepted.
On March 31, 2008, the parliamentary majority gave a trust vote to the new Cabinet of Ministers and its action programme called "Progress and Integration". The new cabinet has the following members:
- Prime Minister Zinaida GRECEANII;
- First Deputy Prime Minister Igor DODON;
- Deputy Prime Minister Andrei STRATAN, minister of foreign affairs and European integration;
- Deputy Prime Minister Victor STEPANIUC;
- Minister of Finance Mariana DURLESTEANU;
- Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Anatolie GORODENCO;
- Minister of Transportation and Road Management Vasile URSU;
- Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Violeta IVANOV;
- Minister of Education and Youth Larisa SAVGA;
- Minister of Social Protection Galina BALMOS;
- Minister of Health Larisa CATRINICI;
- Minister of Culture and Tourism Artur COZMA;
- Minister of Justice Vitalie PIRLOG;
- Interior Minister Valentin MEJINSCHI;
- Minister of Defence Vitalie VRABIE;
- Minister of Information Development Pavel BUCEATCHI;
- Minister of Reintegration Vasili SOVA;
- Minister of Construction and Territorial Development Vladimir BALDOVICI;
- Gagauz Governor Mihail FORMUZAL, ex officio;
- Chairman of the Academy of Sciences Gheorghe DUCA, ex officio.
Commentary by ADEPT: Twelve out of 16 members of the former Tarlev cabinet have been awarded new mandates and this confirms that previous statements on essential renewal of the executive were formal and the dismissal aimed to remove former premier Vasile Tarlev and certain ministers who had a deteriorated image.
1.2. Legal acts
Law on currency regulation. The document aims to set out legal norms on conduct and reporting of currency operations, certification and activity of exchanges, as well as on currency control, in a move to implement the state currency policy and ensure the stability of the domestic currency market. The law complies with community regulations and the legislation harmonisation centre has confirmed its compatibility.
Law on modification of the Law on Government. The Ministry of Construction and Territorial Development will be created at the initiative of chief of state and it will take over competences of the Building and Territorial Development Agency and Apele Moldovei Agency. Under amendments, the Standardisation and Metrology Service is dissolved and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce takes over its competences. Commentary by ADEPT: Authors of this initiative assure that the amendments aim at institutional and functional optimisation of central public administration authorities with regard to the central public administration reform. At the same time, the action plan on implementation of the central public administration reform strategy in 2008 does not make any reference to these amendments, which are promoted ad-hoc, without in-depth analyses. The communication to the draft law does not estimate expenses, economic-financial ground, impact, etc., and thus the regulations on elaboration of legislative and normative acts were violated (Regulation of the Parliament, Law # 780-XV from 27.12.2001 and GD # 1230 from 24.10.2006).
Law on protection of guaranteed geographic indications, origin names and traditional specialties. It regulates the record, legal protection and use of guaranteed origin names, geographic indications and traditional specialties. The elaboration was conditioned by the necessity of readjusting norms to EU standards stipulated by the EU-Moldova Action Plan.
Law on modification and completion of legislative acts (limiting the immunity of judges). The amendments eliminate the necessity to get the SCM consent for criminal charges against a judge. Previously, the prosecutor-general could file penal cases with the SCM consent only. Commentary by ADEPT: Earlier, the SCM, nongovernmental organisations, judiciary representatives, parliamentary opposition and international institutions (CoE) have raised concern with plans to limit the immunity of judges, fearing that these actions may also affect the independence of magistrates. Authorities said these amendments come to enhance capacities of combating corruption, but they did not provide the necessary arguments.
Law on modification and completion of legislative acts (concerning members of the Superior Council of Magistracy). It authorises SCM chairman to hold a diplomatic passport and SCM members to hold service passports throughout their mandates.
Laws on ratification or joining to international acts:
- The Regional Agreement on planning of the digital terrestrial broadcasting service in the Islamic Republic of Iran;
- The protocol on revision of some provisions of the regional agreement on the European broadcasting area;
- The memorandum of understanding between the Government of Moldova and Governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia concerning cooperation against corruption via the South East European Anti-Corruption Initiative;
- The Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious Or To Have Indiscriminate Effects;
Law on modification and completion of some legislative acts (concerning retirement pensions). The amendments award the right to pension to convicts, set up the pension by limiting contributions, obliging foreign citizens and stateless people to pay state social insurance contributions.
Law on modification and completion of the insolvency law. The document aims to prevent and settle conflicts of interests that may occur during management of insolvency procedures. So, the debit mass will be cleared off or used only with the express consent of the assembly of creditors or board of creditors.
Law on modification and completion of the law on legislative acts. Under amendments, the Parliament only will be in charge with approving policy documents such as "concepts" and "strategies". Commentary by ADEPT: independent experts fear that the amendments are not enough argued and the strict enforcement of the law could delay the approval of important policy documents, as the Parliament is less organised and operative in examining and approving acts.
Decision approving the regulation on the Human Rights Centre, structure, maximum personnel and funding. The document increases the number of ombudspersons up two four, with one of them being in charge with protecting the rights of the child. The centre will be in charge with training programmes, public relations; protection of the rights of the child; receiving petitions and organising hearings; it will control the investigative and monitoring service; the Chancellery, the administrative service and territorial representations.
Draft law on credit story offices. It aims to create conditions for the formation, processing, maintenance and delivery of information by credit story offices regarding respect for assumed obligations by debtors, as well as to enhance the protection of creditors and debtors. It regulates the notion and composition of the credit story, grounds, formation, maintenance and use of credit stories, regulates the functioning of credit story offices, regulates the opening, dissolution and reorganisation of these offices.
Decision on hearings concerning reasons of ECHR judgments on Moldova. The document notes that starting 12.09.1997 the ECHR has passed 111 decisions on Moldova, in which it indicated at least a violation of a right guaranteed by Constitution, and it erased applications in 60 cases. All enforced judgments on Moldova have been executed, with overall damages worth 1,492,639 Euros, 1,000 dollars and 489,377 lei being paid. As much as 3,010,427 Euros will be paid under ECHR judgments, should they become definitive accordingly to Article 44 of the Constitution. In general, the Court noted that national authorities have violated the following rights: to a fair trial; to freedom and security; not to be tortured; to an effective appeal; to freedom of expression; to apply to the Court; to protection of property; to private and family life; to freedom of thinking, consciousness and religion; to freedom of association. The ECHR has particularly sentenced Moldova for non-execution of judgments or excessive proceedings; admission of late appeals; illegal cassation of court rulings; groundless decisions; arrest and detention without a valid or grounded warrant; ill-treatment of applicants; torture; inappropriate detention conditions; deprival of the right at national level to seek compensation for violation of Constitution; wrong examination of applications on protection of honour and dignity; non-registration of religious denominations. Lawmakers have also assessed as follows:
- The Government did not take all necessary normative, organisational, financial actions to create appropriate detention conditions and ensure an appropriate functioning of the penitentiary system, service of law enforcement bodies;
- All state authorities failed to execute irrevocable and definitive judgments in the due term;
- The judiciary, prosecution, police do not do their best to respect and meet the European Convention.
- Functionaries who violate human rights and fundamental freedoms are not sanctioned. The state’s right of regress against guilty persons is inappropriately ensured;
- So far, law courts and judiciary do not apply the ECHR jurisprudence and practice because of the lack of an efficient initial and permanent training system, lack of a systemic analysis of criminal prosecution practice and examination of cases in the light of ECHR jurisprudence;
- The Superior Council of Magistracy and Supreme Court of Justice are inactive and lack principles with regard to unification of the judicial practice, reprimanding and other sanctions against judges who pass wrong decisions, violate the discipline and ethic;
- The activity of the Governmental Agent and its directorate is faulty, with deficient organisation and neutralisation of all proceedings allowed by the Court for representation of the state being evidence in this respect;
- Moldova lacks an individual constitutional appealing mechanism capable to ensure an efficient control on respect for the European Convention and remedy breaches of Convention-guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms at national level.
The Government is instructed:
- To continue elaborating and presenting draft laws compatible with the CoE normative framework concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms, strengthening of the judiciary, development of the execution system, reformation of the penitentiary system;
- To take efficient actions in order to consolidate the material-technical base of the penitentiary system and create detention conditions accordingly to minimum national and international detention norms and standards, ensure their proceeding rights and remediation of factors encouraging violation of rights and freedoms of detainees;
- To ensure a stricter selection and training of staffs of prisons in the light of respect for human rights and combat of inhuman or degrading treatment;
- To speed up the transfer of temporary detention facilities from the Interior Ministry under the control of the Ministry of Justice, accordingly to legal norms;
- To ensure an efficient execution of final court rulings;
- To continue and intensify efforts for an amicable resolution of ECHR-considered cases versus Moldova;
- To consolidate the Government Agent’s Directorate in institutional and functional terms and to create a network of coordinators from public authorities to optimise the work of the Government’s Representative to the ECHR, with the view to formulate the state’s position in ECHR-considered cases versus Moldova, monitor the execution of ECHR decisions on Moldova.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office is due to take actions aimed at efficiently implementing the regress and penalising public functionaries and judges for any grave violation that made the ECHR sentence Moldova. SCM will intensify the examination of appeals related to conduct and discipline of judges and will fairly punish judges who are to blame for wrong decisions. The Supreme Court of Justice is instructed to systemise the legal practice in order to adjust it to the ECHR jurisprudence, as well as to make explicative decisions related to ECHR judgments on Moldova which signal a faulty examination of cases by national law courts. The National Institute of Justice jointly with the Prosecutor-General’s Office and SCM will work out training programmes and organise the training of prosecutors, judges and other functionaries in charge with making justice in the area of human rights and ECHR jurisprudence. The Parliament pledges to examine and adopt draft laws on human rights and freedoms, consolidation of independence of the judiciary, as well as legislative acts aimed to develop democratic institutions nationwide.
1.3. Parliamentary control. Statements
The parliamentary majority has turned down an initiative by opposition lawmakers to broadcast live the sitting, at which the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers was accepted, as well as a proposal to invite the resigned prime minister at the sitting concerned.
Lawmakers representing the Democratic Party of Moldova supported by unaffiliated fellows have initiated a simple motion concerning the energy policy of the Government. The document tackles the ANRE dependence on Government; non-installation of meters at Moldova’s borders to measure the consumption of the gas supplied and transited by the Russian giant "Gazprom" via Moldova; the construction of gas pipes on funds of Government and people, while networks built this way are not recorded.
Sentencing of Moldova by ECHR
On March 21, 2008, the Parliament held hearings on Moldova-concerned cases at the European Court of Human Rights, with the participation of legislators, members of Government and associative sector. Governmental agent who represents Moldova to the ECHR reported that the European Court has sentenced the country in 111 cases and erased 66 cases. Minister of justice stated that by applying to the ECHR citizens show that they know their rights well, and noted that a special commission of the Ministry of Justice considers each ECHR decision in order to prevent new sentencing. SCM chairperson stated that people blames the judicial system every time when the ECHR sentences Moldova, assuring that shortcomings in this area are not those believed and they are related to objective reasons. Prosecutor-general said that a study is underway to reduce Moldova’s risks to be sentenced by ECHR, and noted that Moldova faces a high sentencing risk because an implementation mechanism was not established since it joined the European Convention on Human Rights. Opposition parliamentarians accused authorities, inclusively of being incapable to protect fundamental human rights at national level, so that citizens have to look for justice in Strasbourg. They noted that thus Moldova’s image is deteriorated. Communist lawmakers agreed that the situation related to the sentencing of Moldova by ECHR is alarming.
National Liberal Deputy Vitalia Pavlicenco has asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office and Interior Ministry to provide information regarding legality of actions by police officers who held youths participating in manifestations dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Bessarabia’s Union with Romania.
Deputy Igor Klipii has read a statement criticising the programme "Povesti cu Masti" aired by NIT TV channel. He demanded a watching interdiction for children under 16, fearing that the vocabulary and intellectual charge of this programme may have degrading effects on the psychic of a child.
The faction representing the Our Moldova Alliance has released a statement dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Act on Bessarabia’s Union with Romania, describing the March 27, 1918 historic act as a courageous action by Sfatul Tarii members, Romanian-identity Bessarabia.
Christian Democratic chairman Iurie Rosca has read a new declaration bringing accusations against LDPM leader Vladimir Filat and raising concern with degrading relations between post-electoral majorities from regional councils, as he noted, Filat’s party bribed many local elected officials.
Parliamentary factions and opposition lawmakers said that they do not vote the new Cabinet of Ministers and its new programme. Representatives of OMA, DPM, NLP, LDPM and SDMP criticised the proposed programme, describing it as a political, declarative and ambiguous document. CDPP leader Iurie Rosca stated that his faction does not vote the new cabinet, but it appreciates members of the executive and regards them as technocrats, young, competent and promising persons.
2.1. Appointments. Dismissals
Premier Vasile Tarlev tendered his resignation on March 19, so that all the cabinet was dismissed.
The mandate of the Tarlev cabinet was over on March 31, as the new executive was awarded a confidence vote and was sworn in.
Decision concerning indexation of social insurance allocations and state social allocations. It establishes a 17-percent coefficient for the indexation of allocations in 2008, given the annual rise of the consumer price index by 12.3 percent and annual growth of medium salary on country by 21.7 percent, compared with the precedent year. Starting April 1, 2008, the quantum of the minimum indexed pension is 422.96 lei for a retirement pension paid to workers in agriculture sector; 475.09 lei for a retirement pension paid to other beneficiaries of such pensions; 337.98 lei foe a pension paid for the 1st-degree disability; 326.38 lei for a pension paid for the 2nd-degree disability; 229.82 lei – pension for the 3rd-degree disability.
Decisions approving some regulations:
- The regulation on determination and sale of unused assets of enterprises;
- The regulation on location of unused assets;
- The regulation on optimal participation of central public administration bodies, as well as of other central administrative authorities in executing commitments toward international organisations;
Decisions approving some programmes, concepts, strategies:
- The action plan on enforcement of the International Sanitary Regulation in Moldova.
Decisions on allocation of funds:
- The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is allocated 600,000 lei to continue the renovation and restoration of the Museum Conacul Familiei Lazo;
- The Government’s Apparatus is allocated 181,000 lei to cover expenses for serving a delegation headed by Bulgarian prime minister.
2.3. Meetings. Decisions. Statements
On the last days of his mandate, former prime minister Vasile Tarlev:
- Visited the Academy of Sciences of Moldova;
- Met members of the club of young prime ministers;
- Thanked journalists;
- Sent a letter of gratitude to the Anti-Corruption Alliance;
- Had a farewell meeting with cabinet members.
Government’s new programme
According to the programme approved by parliamentary majority, the welfare of people and progress of society are the reason of Government’s existence. The ruling programme stipulates the following key goals:
- Improving the governance;
- Consolidating the democratic institutions;
- Ensuring the security and integrity of the country;
- Enhancing the economic competitiveness;
- Promoting the social and regional inclusion.
Government’s policy priorities for 2008–2009 are the following: education; health; social protection; culture and tourism; regional development; protection of environment and use of natural resources.
During its mandate the new cabinet shall increase the medium salary on economy up to at least 300 dollars; raise pensions and social allocations by over 40 percent on average; increase scholarships and indemnities by about 50 percent; state-funded seats in secondary professional and higher learning institutions shall grow by 30 percent; GDP shall advance by 7 percent a year; foreign direct investments shall grow by at least 35 percent and exceed 2 billion dollars; more than 200 kilometres of roads shall be built and renovated accordingly to European standards; more than 200 kilometres of water pipes and about 400 kilometres of gas pipes with a major capacity shall be built; 40 thermal stations shall be put into operation, built and endowed with high-output equipment; more than 50 renovated healthcare centres and social assistance services, 80 schools, kindergartens, youth and cultural centres shall open to citizens, shall be built and renovated to ensure an efficient education process.
- Shortly after tendering his resignation, former prime minister Vasile Tarlev was told that he has been awarded the Order of the Republic as a sign of appreciation of special merits to social-economic development of Moldova, substantial contribution to Government’s activity and high professional skills;
- Further, at the proposal of the resigned premier, the 3rd-class Faith to Homeland Order was awarded to the director of the Centre for the Struggle against Economic Crimes and Corruption, Valentin Mejinschi; the Labour Glory Order was awarded to Minister of Economy and Commerce Igor Dodon. The Civic Merit medal was awarded to the director-general of the Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre Alexandr Bannicov; deputy head of the Government’s Apparatus Roman Cazan; head of the State Tax Inspectorate Serghei Puscuta; the senior state advisor of the Government’s Apparatus, Nicolae Ungureanu;
- Moldovan president has awarded the Labour Glory Order to publicist Arhip Cibotaru, former member of the electronic media watchdog CCA;
- The Civic Merit Medal was awarded to Moldovan Ambassador to the U.S. Nicolae Chirtoaca.
By two presidential decrees, the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova was offered or approved its recovering for 12 persons. At the same time, other 2 presidential decrees approved the abandonement of the Moldovan citizenship by 289 persons.
3.2. Meetings. Decisions. Statements
Concerns with service of military staff
Moldovan president has convoked a sitting on military personnel of institutions of higher learning and discussed ways to optimize the activity of these subdivisions in educational institutions. Participants noted that these structures do not strictly meet goals to educate and train reserve military, and therefore, the legal framework shall be reassessed and a single and tax-free education system for the military shall be set up under the aegis of the Military Institute of Armed Forces. Vladimir Voronin also sought the optimisation of the number of military staff accordingly to real necessities.
New discussion on headquarters of "Eugen Ionesco" Theatre
A concept on implementation of the project aimed to renovate the theatre headquarters has been presented at a sitting convoked by chief of state, with participants appreciating it. Moldovan president called for the edification of "a model multifunctional theatre, which would meet the highest standards in the area and would exactly ensure the necessities of a professional dramatic staff." Mr. Voronin instructed the cabinet of ministers to urgently make a decision on building of the new headquarters of the "Eugene Ionesco" Theatre, and the renovation concept is to be finished by July 1, 2008.
1 Report by SCM chairman to the general assembly of judges, 08.02.2008.
1. Inflation and prices
Moldovans spend largest amounts on foodstuffs…
According to formal statistics, Moldovans are spending largest amounts from a 1,000-leu sample budget on energy, gas, heating, telephony, sewerage, water and sanitation. Food products and drinks continue to lead the top of products covered by the consumer basket of population.
Unavoidable expenses for housing maintenance and food products absorb most of household budgets month by month. This fact is also revealed by analyses by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS), notably by evaluation of the share of products and services in the consumer basket of population on basis of which the monthly inflation rate is calculated. In general, about 35 percent out of a sample amount of 1,000 lei go in Moldova to manufactured goods, roughly 45 percent of household budgets are spent on food products and drinks and approximately 20 percent go to services.
Beyond the mandatory nature of the "largest" spending category, the purchase conduct of population reflected in the share of expenditures from the sample budget indicated by NBS reveals that the costs of life affect the pockets of Moldovans in continuation. Thus, authorities should revise their policy on living standards of population.
2. Real sector
Health of Moldovan economy…
The National Bureau for Statistics has published synthesis data for 2007. They cover the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), sectors which contributed to the economic growth and evolutions in 2007 compared with 2006. Statistics reveal indeed the health of Moldovan economy.
The state of things is clear at statistical level. Year 2007 had to engines that impelled the economic growth: constructions and services. The industry has underperformed (-2.7 percent, compared with 2006), while the agriculture suffered a serious but expected decline (-23.1 percent, compared with 2006). But what is behind macroeconomic indicators?
A GDP growth (how small it was) or the rise of an economic sector means a larger production at macroeconomic level. As stocks did not grow much, a rise of production meant larger sales on domestic market or exports. Larger sales would mean better indicators for companies operating in the economic sector concerned. Larger revenues of companies should be also reflected in salaries of workers from the sector concerned, but it is not so here and there.
The retailing and the investments in fixed capital were the engine of growth in 2007. The building sector has increased by about 21 percent, compared with 2006, and it will be hard to equal this performance the next years. But the building sector has grown without a significant contribution of infrastructure works.
Therefore, in order to keep the 2007 growth, the building sector needs to implement infrastructure projects. Paradoxically, the development of the building sector did not impel salaries. Companies have developed without investing in labour force, with Moldovan workers continuing to leave their country.
Services (which registered a 19-percent growth, compared with 2006) have achieved an expected rise due to two reasons: consumption and tender grow-up signs of domestic economy. The consumption has fuelled the growth of the trade and financial sector. But how much will the financial sector develop this year, which began with an alarming inflation rise, given the jumpiness of the exchange rate and a series of measures that inhibit the credit.
The industry was below the GDP growth (-2.7 percent) and it had an inconsistent contribution to the economic growth, this being the weakness of Moldovan economy. Finally, the regressing agriculture confirms the complicated condition in 2007. The drought has reduced the agricultural products and increased the price of food products.
3. Financial-banking system
Overall value of deposits in system exceeded 2 billion dollars…
The supply of deposits in the banking system of Moldova exceeded 22 billion lei (more than 2 billion dollars), as of late February. The growth followed a rise of deposits in domestic currency by roughly 600 million lei, while deposits in foreign currency have dropped by 133 million lei.
The supply of forward deposits in lei exceeded 8.51 billion lei in late February and increased by 5.8 percent, compared with January. The growth was due to a 6.2-percent rise of deposits by individuals and 3.9-percent by businesses. At the same time, forward deposits in foreign currency have exceeded the equivalent to 7.12 billion lei, after they increased by 2.4 percent in February.
The average interest rate on forward deposits in lei has decreased by about 0.5 percentage points down to 15.61 percent (12.86 percent for businesses and 16.33 percent for individuals). The average interest rate on forward deposits in foreign currency has declined by 0.04 percent only.
Interest for financial products is lowest in Moldova…
According to an EBRD survey, Moldovans spend 81 percent of remittances on current consumption. EBRD experts consider that Moldova shall improve the financial education of population, as the latter is not very interested in financial instruments such as insurance policies, deposits, credits for small business and education. According to the EBRD, the interest for financial products in Moldova is lower than in the poorest Latin American countries such as Haiti, Honduras and Bolivia.
For this purpose, experts recommend the EBRD and associated institutions to encourage the Government and private companies to offer some basic financial products to population. These products could include deposits, insurance policies which would assure health assistance and cover funeral expenditures, micro-financing credits bellow 3,000 dollars to start-up business, as well as loans for education, housing building or renovation. According to EBRD experts, these basic products could be used to educate the population regarding the value of credits and to establish good relations with financial institutions.
Twenty-one percent of adult people in Moldova or 580,000 persons received remittances in 2007. Most of remittances come from Russia (41 percent), Italy (33 percent), and Western Europe (14 percent). A beneficiary of remittances in Moldova has received money from abroad six times a year on average. The survey also reveals that 48 percent of remittances were sent via banks, 21 percent via relatives and acquaintances, and another 16 via courier. Although 60 percent of respondents indicated a positive attitude towards banks, 84 percent of beneficiaries of remittances in Moldova said that they do not have bank accounts.
1 The minimum consumer basket per person in 2006 was about 954 lei.
Russian State Duma’s declaration on separatist enclaves and its effects
On March 21, 2008, following the March 13 hearings, the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted a declaration "concerning Russia’s policy on Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria." According to the document, after Kosovo has unilaterally declared its independence, Russia had to reclaim its policies on Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, given the will of people from these regions. The Duma backed the foreign policy promoted by the state leadership on the basis of respect for the international law. Also, it noted that the Duma respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and Moldova within the internationally recognised borders, but it considers that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence contravenes to the international law. According to the declaration, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, which de facto have constituted themselves as democratic states with all attributes in the years of independence, have more grounds to be proclaimed independent. The declaration clearly delimitates Russia’s attitude towards Moldova and Georgia. It says that Georgia may decide on its relations with NATO, but Russia has the right to protect its citizens and respect their will, as majority of residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Russians. The Russian legislature noted that the direction to the NATO accession deprives Georgian authorities of the possibility to consolidate the territories and their population. Russian parliamentarians are confident that the Government shall combat any attempts of political, economic and military pressures against the three enclaves. They asked the Government to consolidate the support for Russian citizens from the regions concerned by opening Russian representations, stirring up cooperation and economic assistance, simplifying the border crossing procedures. The Duma insisted on the need of maintaining the existing peacekeeping format as long as a mutually accepted resolution of the conflicts is unavailable.
The Duma’s declaration has deceived very much the leaders of the separatist enclaves. This is not a surprise, given the previous threats of Russian officials regarding imminent consequences of the "Kosovo precedent". Leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia could not hide their deception unlike their Transnistrian fellows who avoided categorical statements. Smirnov said that Transnistrian authorities have omitted cooperation with other states in order to persuade them to support Transnistria (Smirnov demonstrates a false modesty or he forgot the 2006 "project" when the so-called International Council on Democratic Institutions and State Sovereignty published the study "State sovereignty of Pridnetrovskaya Moldovaskaya Respublica (Pridnestrovie) under international law", lying that it was worked out by known international experts). Instead, some members of the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet such as Pyotr Pasat described the Duma’s declaration as "insipid, vague and inconsistent." Transnistrian speaker Evgeniy Shevchyuk had the most equable attitude based on approaching the situation as a fait accompli, saying among others that Russia considers that the Transnistrian conflict may be settled within the "common state"; the potential of the negotiation process was not used up yet. But the assault on Transnistrian foreign minister Valeri Litskai is the clearest sign of deception and dissatisfaction, as former Transnistrian speaker Grigory Marakutsa, secretary-general of the interparliamentary assembly of the commonwealth For Democracy and Rights of Nations (created by Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, which is also called "separatist international" or CIS-2), blamed him for the irrelevant attitude of the State Duma: the foreign ministry and its head Valeri Litskai are to blame for the failure of Transnistria revealed in the attitude of the State Duma, as the minister is beating about the bush; Litskai is to blame for Moldova’s diplomatic victory against Transnistria; nobody takes the head of the Tiraspol diplomacy into serious and accepts him any longer. Litskai really had an opportunity to "rehabilitate" himself by participating in Transnistria settlement consultations of experts in Kiev shortly after the State Duma has adopted the declaration concerned. Litskai introduced the event as a new trend in the policy of Kiev, which he said was hurt by the attitude of Chisinau that started ignoring Ukraine’s role in the Transnistrian settlement while approaching Russia. Indeed, Litskai hinted the Kievf is irritated over President Voronin’s statements on Moldova’s eventual withdrawal from the GUAM.
Three conferences on Transnistrian conflict
Three conferences on the Transnistrian conflict were organised on March 26–28, 2008, with Chisinau hosting one and Moscow two.
The international conference on "Transnistrian conflict settlement in the context of Moldova’s Europeanisation" was organised under the aegis of the Association for Foreign Policy (AFP) of Moldova. The second edition of the conference was held indeed within the AFP project Transnistrian Dialogues. Although high-ranking dignitaries of Transnistria and Moldova did not give green light to the invitation to attend the conference in order to elucidate the recent "progress" in settling the conflict, debates were very useful in making clear a series of important issues, in particular:
- High-ranking dignitaries from both banks of the Dniester River do not have what or are afraid of debating Transnistrian settlement issues;
- EU Special Representative Kalman Misei said that the sides should not hold on terms such as unitary state, federation and efforts should focus on distribution of competences in the decentralisation process;
- Deputy Minister of Reintegration Ion Stavila indicated premises for making progress in the "5+2" format Transnistrian settlement due to the "package" approach launched by President Voronin in 2006 and generally accepted by the Russian Federation. According to Mr. Stavila, there are premises to advance the status of the United States and European Union within the "5+2 format" from observers to participants. The basic documents on the Transnistrian settlement are the following: the July 22, 2005 law on basic principles of Transnistria’s status and the October presidential initiatives;
- The director of the Institute of CIS member states, Constantin Zatulin, deputy chairman for problems of CIS and fellow countrymen, said that Russia has recently explained its standpoint regarding the Transnistrian conflict via the March 21 Declaration by the State Duma. Russia recognises the territorial integrity of Moldova but as anticipation rather than as a real fact. Zatulin derided the so-called "package" approach by President Voronin, which was allegedly accepted by Russian authorities. He noted that none of Russian parliamentarians has ever seen a "package" but Moldovan authorities introduce their wishes as a fait accompli. However, Zatuluin stressed that the latest rhetoric by Moldovan authorities related to the affirmation of permanent neutrality of Moldova and confidence measures in relations with Tiraspol goes the right direction to remedy disagreements born after President Voronin has turned down the Kozak Memorandum in 2003;
- Western political analyst Vladimir Socor has noted Russia’s competition with the West in settling the Transnistrian conflict. He stressed the efficiency of the soft EU policy on Transnistria settlement, balancing it with the one of Russia, which undermines the security of Moldova and Ukraine by following its goals in Transnistria. Socor welcomed President Voronin’s Transnistria settlement initiatives but he wondered that insisting on Moldova’s neutrality would make Russia pull out its troops from Transnistria. Also, he called against speeding up a pre-electoral resolution, fearing that it would run counter Moldova on a long term;
- Known analyst Oazu Nantoi stated that latest developments, hearings by the State Duma indicate a reduction of Russia’s influence in Transnistria. He recommended not to hurry up to settle the conflict on pre-electoral reasons, called for the democratisation and Europeanisation of Moldova, in order to make it attractive for Transnistrians and prepare the natural reintegration of the country;
- The representative of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Claus Neukirch, said that though a rapid resolution of the Transnistrian conflict is expected, now the sides are farer from reaching a compromise than they were in 2006, when the "5+2" negotiations ceased. According to Neukirch, now "negotiations are negotiated" and an unconditional resumption of the "5+2" talks would be the solution;
- Transnistrian analyst Andrei Safonov said that acting Transnistrian authorities will never accept a conflict resolution under the conditions imposed by Moldovan authorities on the basis of the July 2005 Law. He considers that a compromise solution such as Moldova to give up the settlement within a unitary state and Transnistria to accept reasonable concessions will be unlikely found by April 2009;
- AFP director Andrei Popov has drawn the conclusions of the conference, saying that the "package" initiatives and declared international affirmation of Moldova’s neutrality cannot motivate Russia to accept a rapid and lasting settlement of the Transnistrian conflict without affecting Moldova’s interests. Therefore, a rapid resolution by the 2009 parliamentary elections is unlike. In these circumstances, the Transnistrian settlement as a whole shall be tackled for a longer term.
The Institute of Economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences organised a roundtable on "Post-Soviet area: realities and prospects" on March 27. A report by Transnistrian speaker Evgeniy Shevchyuk was released at the roundtable. It states the following:
- The Russian State Duma decided in 1995 and 1996 to declare "Transnistria a region of exceptional interest for Russia," recommending Russian president to recognise Transnistria as a subject of the international law and to conclude an international agreement with Transnistria in this respect;
- In spite of encouragements and promises to recognise the results of referenda in Transnistria, the Russian Duma recognised Moldova’s territorial integrity in the March 21, 2008 Declaration, avoiding to mention both an eventual recognition of Transnistria and the "postponed status" of Transnistria;
- Recent developments clearly demonstrate the decline of Russia’s interest for Transnistria and its inclination to take into consideration President Voronin’s promises to guarantee Moldova’s neutrality;
- By conceding Transnistria, Russia could find itself in a situation like when it conceded the Alaska Peninsula;
- The Transnistria settlement model by President Voronin is equivalent to the one of Gagauzia. Russia’s consent for this approach means that the settlement in general is postponed, rather than the status of Transnistria, and thus Russia could lose the entire region;
- A careful consideration of the situation indicates that there are legal and historical concessions for geopolitical reasons on account of Transnistria’s interests, so that the will of Transnistrians certified during referenda is ignored. Transnistrians have followed the separation of Montenegro and Kosovo from Serbia and Russia’s reactions that precedents have been created.
On March 28, Moscow hosted a conference themed "After Kosovo, commonwealth of unrecognised states going ahead to international recognition". Supporters of the independence of separatist enclaves have addressed the conference:
- Modest Kolerov, former advisor for President Putin in 2005–2007 and "architect of civil society from Transnistria", stated that "Russia may lose the separatist enclaves because their elites may be destroyed or bribed. Unrecognised republics will be incapable to survive without Russia’s support and strong guarantees after an eventual legal recognition, joining thus the enemies of Russia." Kolerov wondered: is the Transnistrian economy strong and transparent enough to ensure the capitulation of the Moldovan elite in front of that of Transnistria? He noted that the present Transnistrian elite cannot subdue Chisinau;
- The director of the Transnistrian Institute of History, State and Law, Ilya Galinsky, said that the restoration of Transnistria’s territorial unity with Moldova is equivalent to the death of the Transnistrian internationalist project. He noted that Moldova and Transnistria had made different geopolitical choices. Galinsky asked Russia not to be lured by promises of Chisinau to consolidate its neutrality. Anyway, Moldova is continuing the cooperation with NATO while the pro-Russia Transnistria may oppose the NATO enlargement in the region. He warned that "Russia is running the risk to lose the control on Moldova and to lose Transnistria, should it be lured by Voronin’s promised. Russia’s actions to protect interests of its citizens from Transnistria are timid and inefficient." Galinsky threatened that "the patience of the Transnistrian people is not endless";
- Tamara Guzenkova, representative of the Russian strategic researching institute, stated that the EU proximity to Transnistria is revealing its effects. "The European idea is attracting masses of people from the region. Transnistrian invalids receive wheelchairs, glasses for free. Transnistrian youths are driven in Brussels and Vienna." Russia’s aid for Transnistria is significant, but insufficient in front of European allurements. The EU is promoting a well-considered policy on attracting Transnistrian elites and "stiffly hugging" masses of people. This state of things may change electoral sympathies of Transnistrians who could make another choice at the next elections in the region as a sign of protest."
COEST EU-Moldova Troika Meeting
On March 18, the COEST EU-Moldova Troika Meeting, with participation of the representatives of the European Commission, the Slovenian EU Council Presidency, the secretariat of the Council of the EU, future France Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Special Representative of the EU to Moldova, was held in Brussels. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Valeriu Ostalep headed the Moldovan delegation. During the meeting, a set of subjects were discussed: latest evolutions of the Transnistrian problem, the activity of the EU Border Assistance Mission at the Moldo-Ukrainian border and the EU-Moldova relations. In particular, the Moldovan official reassured the commitment of the Moldovan authorities to apply the European standards and to develop the new dimensions for cooperation with the EU. In addition, Valeriu Ostalep appreciated the recent Council conclusions on relations with Moldova that open new perspectives to develop and adopt a new legal framework Moldova-EU, based on the results of the Progress Report (made public on April 3). At the same time, the participants of the meeting stressed the importance of continuing the process of internal reforms in compliance with the Standards of the Council of EU and OSCE and in line with the results scored by Moldova in the implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan.
On March 26–27, the international conference "Achieving a Transnistrian settlement in the context of Moldova’s Europeanization" was held in Chisinau. In the conference participated some European officials, among them – Cesare De Montis, Head of Delegation of the European Commission, Marianne Mikko, the Estonian Member of the European Parliament, Zygimantas Pavilionis, Undersecretary of Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs etc. In one of his interventions, Cesare de Montis highlighted that the European Commission has already the mandate to start the negotiations on developing a new legal framework for Moldova. However, the content of the new agreement will depend on many factors, among them:
- Conclusions of the report on the country’s progress in implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan;
- The effectiveness of the Moldovan authorities in application of legislation adopted in compliance with the EU-Moldova Action Plan provisions;
- Organization and holding of the 2009 parliamentary elections;
- The image of Moldova at ECHR.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Romania negotiates with Moldova an agreement for re-launching the small trans-border traffic. According to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Romania sent Republic of Moldova the draft Convention on the small cross-border traffic between Romania and Moldova on March 26. The Convention will allow the citizens of both countries that live in the well-defined zone near the common border, to move within the respective zone without visa or passports, only with special certificates issued by competent authorities.
Romania proposed Moldova to establish the cross-border zone within 50 km by each side of the common border, the maximum distance allowed by the European regulations.
By entering into force, the respective convention will facilitate the movement to Romania of more Moldovan citizens.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania declared that will send Ukraine the draft agreement on the small cross-border traffic in a short time, for starting the negotiations.
Republic of Moldova – Slovenia
Andrei Stratan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration met H.E. Primoz Seligo, the Ambassador of Slovenia to Republic of Moldova with residence in Kiev. The main subjects discussed were the European integration of Moldova and the future relations with UE, as well as the Transnistrian problem. The minister highlighted the importance of a new legal framework for the EU-Moldova and asked for the Support of Slovenia that currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, to include the issue of future EU-Moldova relations on the agenda of the next Meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on April 28 2008.
Republic of Moldova – Italy
During the same period, Andrei Stratan met H.E. Daniele Mancini, the Ambassador of Italy to Republic of Moldova with residence in Bucharest. During the meeting, the minister asked for Italy’s support during the discussion on the future relations between Moldova and European Union, after the EU-Moldova Action Plan expired. The discussion is going to take place at the next 8.
Republic of Moldova – Israel
The Deputy Minister of the Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Valeriu Ostalep, paid a visit to Israel in the period concerned. During his visit, Valeriu Ostalep discussed with the Israeli officials a set of bilateral cooperation issues, inclusively to open a diplomatic mission of Israel in Chisinau, and signed the Program between the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Government of the State of Israel on their cooperation in the fields of culture, education and research for 2008–2011. One of the advantages of this program is the inclusion of Moldova in the list of states that could receive from Israel graduate, post-graduate and research scholarships in local institutions.
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sentenced Moldova in another 3 cases in the period concerned: Dacia SRL vs. Moldova, Rosca, Secareanu and Others vs. Moldova, Vacarencu vs. Moldova. Moldova was sentenced to violation of the rights to a fair trial, right of ownership, freedom of assembly and association, right of the ownership protection.
In Dacia SRL vs. Moldova case, the applicant asks for a compensation of almost 2,3 million Euro. The ECHDR has not taken the final decision on the reparations amount yet and has recommended the both sides to come up with an amiable solution in the meantime. Moldova is to pay almost 16,950 Euro (approximately 274,950 MDL) to the applicants of other 2 cases.
1 www.mae.ro, press-release of 27.03.2008 (in Romanian)
Studies, Analyses, Comments
6th PCRM Congress and its first consequences
Igor Botan, 31 March 2008
The 6th Congress of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) from March 15, 2008 made mixed impressions. On one hand, the congress has surely brought some cardinal changes