Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VI, issue 118, May 17–31, 2008
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
1.1. Appointments. Dismissals
Elena Covalenco and Iurie Diaconu have been nominated judges of the Supreme Court of Justice.
1.2. Legal acts
Law approving the National Security Concept. It regulates basic aspects of security policy, general values, principles, risks and vulnerabilities; international cooperation as a national security tool, interconnection between interior and foreign policy; national security system and reformation of this system; affirmation of neutrality principle, etc. The document was voted by the faction representing the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova and lawmakers on behalf of the Social Democratic Party.
Law concerning credit story offices. The law introduces the credit story component, grounds, mode of formation, keeping and use of credit stories, regulates the functioning, establishing, dissolution and reorganisation of credit story offices, principles of cooperation between these offices and credit story formation sources, creditors, public and local authorities. It regulates relations between persons providing credits to credit story subjects, accordingly to credit contracts concluded with them on one hand, and story credit subjects on the other hand; credit story offices and credit story formation sources; credit story offices and users of credit stories; credit story offices and credit story subjects; credit story offices and competent public authority.
Laws on ratification of international acts or accession to such documents:
The European Convention Relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite;
The Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Road (CVR);
The Agreement between Moldovan Government and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on pensions for former military personnel, their families and other social protection modalities for them.
Law on completion of the law on statement and control of income and estate of state officials, judges, prosecutors, public functionaries and other high-ranking officials. The law says that financial statements by Moldovan President, members of the Parliament and Government, Chairperson of the Constitutional Court, Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Justice, Prosecutor-General, Chairperson of the Chamber of Auditors, Governor of the National Bank of Moldova, Director of the Information and Security Service, mayors of cities, villages (communes) and heads of district councils will be also published on official websites of these institutions within 30 days after the deadline for submission of financial statements.
Note by ADEPT: Experts have signaled long ago the need of such a simple but efficient action to ensure transparency, and the fact that the parliamentary majority has voted the draft submitted by the opposition is a remarkable progress. At the same time, authorities will be monitored the way they implement this law and they are expected to sanction those who violate it.
Law on modification and completion of the Family Code. The document aims to ensure the education and growing up of children in family; reduce much the number of children from residential institutions; organise the functioning of services in charge with preventing the separation of children from their parents; harmonise the Code to international instruments, etc.
Law on modification and completion of the Law on entrepreneur’s patent. Amendments aim to extend the applicability of the entrepreneur’s patent on retailing in booths, motor vehicles and authorised markets; establish categories of merchandise allowed for retailing in legal places on the basis of patent; stipulate the mandatory social insurance contributions and health insurance premiums; raise the fee for the patent of commercial entrepreneurs; impose unconditional respect for goods trading rules; establish the maximum business figure for patent-based activities at the level of 300,000 lei; these regulations shall enter into force by January 1, 2017.
Note by ADEPT: These amendments come after protests by patent holders and the Government has ignored them at the beginning, but it had to intervene when riots developed.
Law on completion and modification of the Code of Penal Procedure. It modifies Article 401, deleting the right of the plaintiff to declare appeal concerning the criminal side "when the penal case is based on the precursory complaint of the plaintiff." This regulation does not meet the right to free access to the justice, as the plaintiff does not enjoy an equal legal treatment but in the first phase of the suit and it has a status of participant or it is even deprived of the right to participate in other stages of the suit.
1.3. Parliamentary control. Statements
The parliamentary majority did not accept to hear governmental officials regarding an eventual ceasing of sunflower oil imports from Ukraine.
Prime minister has submitted the country initiative on Compact full assistance within U.S. Millennium Challenge Account to the Parliament Permanent Bureau.
The Ministry of Education and Youth (MEY) has reported objections from the European Commission Report on Moldova against racism and intolerance (adopted on December 14, 2007). MEY has created a working group to study passages indicated by European experts and certain criticism against new textbooks are reportedly based on "interpretations by some nongovernmental organisations from Moldova," not on "other visions in society."
Communist Deputies Iurii Eriomin, Sergiu Sococol, Grigore Petrenco and Ala Ursul have asked Prosecutor-General and other law bodies to check actions by Chisinau City Hall and districts of Nisporeni, Criuleni and Telenesti led by democratic coalitions.
Democratic Deputy Marcel Raducan has asked the Ministry of Education and Youth to provide information about sources spent to buy symbols of pioneer organisations, reason of suspension of classes in schools in connection with the Day of Pioneers on May 19 and legality of political involvement of PCRM members in school activities during classes.
National Liberal Deputy Vitalia Pavlicenco has asked the Interior Ministry to report concrete facts why police officers have been accused of corruption without respect for presumption of innocence. In a second interpellation Pavlicenco (PNL) asked minister of information development to provide information about assets owned by Vladimir Voronin and his son in all enterprises in Moldova.
Christian Democratic Deputy Ion Varta has asked the Government to provide information about seismic resistance of new residential blocks and respect for anti-seismic engineering norms to build them.
Deputy Vladimir Filat has asked prime minister to provide information about a governmental decision on donation of 9,500 tons of food wheat to two state-run economic agents. According to Filat, the wheat is worth 30 million lei and it was provided by Romania and Russia as a humanitarian aid, while the economic agents concerned do not have the right to donations.
The Head of PCRM Eugenia Ostapciuc has released a statement which disapproves the conduct of the parliamentary opposition and accuses the latter of abandoning electoral promises.
2.1. Appointments. Dismissals
Tamara Gheorghita was nominated to head the staff policy directorate of the Government Apparatus and Oleg Girbu was appointed chief of the directorate for special affairs of the Government Apparatus.
Decision establishing the interdepartmental strategic planning committee. The committee will substitute a number of governmental commissions in charge with coordinating intersectorial policies or supervising national documents (interdepartmental strategic planning commission, interdepartmental committee on implementation, monitoring, assessment and updating of NDS for 2008–2011, governmental commission for central public administration reform and national committee for foreign assistance granted to Moldova, etc.).
Decision establishing an interdepartmental commission to revise policy documents. The commission will propose the Government by June 20, 2008 to modify or abrogate out-of-date policy documents which are not financially covered or are uncorrelated with national priorities. This commission will estimate the actuality and concordance of existing concepts, strategies, programmes and plans on national priorities. According to an analysis by the policy coordination and foreign assistance directorate of the Government Apparatus, there are about 300 policy documents in Moldova.
Note by ADEPT: ADEPT has repeatedly signalled the "hyperinflation" of policy documents (strategies, concepts, plans, programmes), attesting that 45 policy documents have been approved in 1995–2000 and 286 policy documents in 2001–2007. More than 20 policy documents have been approved in the first six months of this year.
Decision concerning national programme on economic ability of youths. The programme has three components: entrepreneurial education and advisory; funding of rural investment projects on providing reimbursable commercial loans with a grant portion; post-financing monitoring. Beneficiaries of the programme shall be people aged between 18 and 30 years, and loans will be worth up to 300,000 for a 5-year maximum term. Beneficiaries will reimburse 60 percent of the principal amount of the credit and the afferent commercial interest. At the same time, another 40 percent will turn into an unredeemable and interest-free grant, should beneficiaries reimburse the basic amount of the credit in the due term. Projects on tobacco growing and sale, pesticides making, purchase of land, real estates and debt refinancing will not be accepted. The programme will be financed from circulating re-crediting resources of the Rural Investment Services Project (RISP) funded by the World Bank, available funds of the Rural Financing and Small Business Development Project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, other sources from development partners.
Decision on issuance of individual licences for 3rd-generation cellular mobile communication services (3G). The licence will cost 8 million U.S. dollars while existing mobile telephony operators may get licences in 2008 for up to 15 years and without competing for them.
Decision on optimising the structure of the Information Development Ministry. The state-owned enterprise Registru is reorganised into the state-owned enterprise Centre of State Information Resources Registru, which will take over the tasks of keeping basic state information resources, state registers of transport and motorists, as well as the register of state information resources and systems. The state-run enterprise State Communication Inspectorate is reorganised into the state-owned enterprise National Centre for Radio Frequencies. The state-run enterprise Centre of State Information Resources Registru is awarded the exclusive right to elaborate, issue identity and registration documents, as well as to perform direct orders of issuing strict record booklets and forms (identity papers; motor matriculation documents and driver’s licences; documents containing diverse registration (issuance) and information security technologies (bar codes, holograms, magnetic carriers, chips and other technologies); identification papers and securities.
Decisions on allocation of funds:
- The electronic media watchdog CCA is allocated 170,000 lei from the reserve fund of the Government to work out designing and renovation documents and estimate for its headquarters;
- The Ministry of Local Public Administration is allocated more than 6.3 million lei to "ensure the work of territorial administrative control directorates."
2.3. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Popularising governing programme
Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii has met representatives of Top-50 taxpayers of the national public budget. She stressed that the name of the programme "Progress and Integration" enounces the two strategic development directions of Moldova – making progress in all fields of activity, territorial reintegration and European integration. The Government will get involved in areas unavailable to the business, in particular, development of infrastructure. According to the prime minister, the Participatory Committee advising civil society will function soon. Businesspersons welcomed the governing programme, but raised questions regarding prospects of taxation system, currency regime, export and import of products, etc.
Hearing reports and information:
- Head of the Government Apparatus have reported the execution of instructions by prime minister: 10 out of 14 recent orders have been executed, while another three are being accomplished. The instruction on online broadcasting of governmental sittings will be honoured soon, once all necessary technical conditions are assured;
- The Ministry of Education and Youth has reported the process of securing baccalaureate examinations and enhancing transparency in announcing school marks;
- Concerning the implementation of the system of circulation of electronic documents and digital signature: the technical side of the document is being considered; funds needed for this project are being evaluated; the new system is expected to be tested in 2009; the project on modernisation and development of the information system "electronic governmental sitting" is being implemented.
The Labour Glory medal was awarded to:
- Alexandru Roman, rector of the Academy of Public Administration advising Moldovan President;
- Emilian Ciobu, directorate chief at the Academy of Public Administration;
- Lidiei Lupu, chief of the Hincesti territorial administrative control directorate.
Mihail Barbulat was recalled as Moldovan Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Turkey (ex officio to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Oman Sultanate).
3.2. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Accusations and instructions for Interior Ministry
Participating in a sitting of the Interior Ministry Collegial Council on May 19, Moldovan president accused policemen, including higher-ranking officers. He bitterly criticised the Traffic Police (calling them "mafia and corrupt creature"), ordering a 50-perent reduction of the traffic police and re-attestation of all employees before appointment. Interior minister signed an order in this respect shortly after president’s orders.
New European integration objectives
The chief of state attended a governmental sitting on May 28 and reported results of the Meeting of Moldova-EU Cooperation Council and talks with European officials during his visit to Brussels. According to Vladimir Voronin, European partners have appreciated the dynamic of European reformation in Moldova and they are about to discuss the eventual text and general parameters of the future EU agreement on Moldova. The Moldovan president pointed out several priority directions to be seriously followed: the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the media, the respect for human rights, the investment climate. Voronin noted that comprehensive reports on achievements will be monthly presented at sittings of the national commission for European integration. He expressed gratitude to Government and Parliament members for their work to fulfil European integration goals, instructing the heads of executive and legislature to propose functionaries who have contributed to developing relations with EU, in order to be awarded state medals.
New members of the national commission for European integration held a sitting on May 19. They approved in principle an internal action plan on continuing reforms of modernisation and Europeanisation of Moldova. The Moldovan president, head of the commission, asked the Government to maintain a permanent dialogue with EU and to strictly monitor the elaboration of draft laws on harmonisation of national legislation with European norms and enforcement of adopted laws. Voronin stressed the importance of analysing why actions for the implementation of European laws in diverse areas are delayed and finding a solution to impel this process. The sitting decided to convoke the national commission for European integration at least once a month, providing a wide access to journalists and representatives of European organisations to Moldova.
Participants in a Presidency-hosted sitting have shared opinions about export conditions for Moldovan wines this year and reiterated the pressing necessity of allowing producers only to export spirits and restrict intermediaries in this process. It was also agreed on the opportunity to export white wines and wines made from Lidia and Isabela grapes in bulk, establishing specific conditions in supply contracts. The Government was instructed to respect all commitments on compensation of expenses afforded by farmers to plant new vineyards.
Visit to Brussels
Vladimir Voronin has headed Moldova’s delegation at the 10th meeting of the Moldova-EU Cooperation Council in Brussels, Belgium. In Brussels, the Moldovan president has met:
- Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy;
- Javier Solana, High EU Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The Bulgarian city of Pomorie hosted the Summit of South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Presidents and Premiers on May 21. Vladimir Voronin attended the summit and addressed participants, as Moldova took over the SEECP Presidency.
Conference of European Left Party
On May 31, Moldova’s president attended the conference of the European Left Party (ELP) ParlaCon-2008 in Chisinau. Addressing participants, Vladimir Voronin spoke about heavy heritage received by PCRM in 2001 and governing results. Also, he assured that PCRM is a dynamical, combative party and it has concrete programmes to develop society in all areas, adding that updated data reveal that 20 percent of PCRM members are below 30 years old, another 20 percent are younger than 40 years old and 27 percent are below 50.
1. Prices and inflation
Consumer prices rose by 1.6 percent in April 2008, compared with March 2008, and by 5.8 percent this year. The annual inflation rate has reached 16.2 percent, which is much higher than officially forecasted for this year. In order to control this situation, the National Bank has increased by 1.5 percentage points the basic interest rate on main monetary policy operations, restricting the monetary mass this way. At the same time, it decided to gradually increase by 6 percentage points the minimum mandatory reserves made of means attracted by banks in Moldovan lei and unconvertible currency, as well as of means attracted in free convertible currency.
The strong rise of consumer price was particularly fuelled by secondary effects of unfavourable weather in 2007, evolution of food prices on international markets, which reduced the supply and raised prices of foodstuffs. Another factor that fuelled these rises was the growth of energy tariffs, which essentially influenced the tariffs of passenger carriage services, tourism and excursion services. Persistence of excessive cash on domestic financial market, high inflation rate in the region, and strong inflationist expectations by people and economic agents have also influenced the evolution of prices. A bad news and worse news: the current rise of food prices will be followed by another wave by December. This will paradoxically occur in an agricultural year which promises to be much better than the precedent one.
2. Real sector
GDP is on the rise again…
The industry has grown by 7.2 percent in January-April 2008, and this will impel the economic growth, too. Majority of production was generally motivated, in particular, by a 14-percent growth of production made by food and drinking industry and 9.2-percent rise of the energy sector. Enterprises working in the following sectors have achieved substantial rises: wine making -1.8-fold; distilled spirits 1.8-fold; steam and hot water providing by 15.4 percent; electricity production and supply by 6 percent; footwear manufacturing by 15 percent; bread and pastry by 13.9 percent; meat production, processing and canning by 15.8 percent; dairy by 9.2 percent; cacao, chocolate and confectionery by 14.4 percent; furniture manufacturing by 19.5 percent (by controlling 1.4 percent, it motivated the growth by 0.3 percent), etc. However, surveys reveal that even after 8.5 years of permanent and apparently consistent economic growth about 70 percent of Moldovans do not have a normal living and they do not feel the high GDP displayed by authorities.
3. Labour market
Medium salary in Moldova amounted to 2,328 lei (145.5 euros) in January-April…
Budgetary employees earned 1,816 lei (114 euros) on average, while the real sector of economy paid 2,601 lei (163 euros). The real wage has increased by 11 percent, compared with 10 percent in January-April 2007. The medium salary of a worker amounted to 2,462 lei (154 euros) in April 2008, by 27 percent more than in April 2007. The medium wage accounted for 1,874 lei (117 euros) in budgetary sector and 2,771 lei (173 euros) in real sector. The medium salary on economy was by 91 lei higher in April than in March. According to statistics, the highest medium wage in April, 5,870 lei, was traditionally paid in the financial sector, and it rose by more than 800 lei compared with March; electro-thermal, gas and water providing enterprises ranked the 2nd place regarding medium salary, and they paid 4,480 lei, which is by 440 lei more than in March 2008. On the other hand, wages in agriculture have decreased by 90 lei, down to 1,140 lei, teachers earned by 41 lei less, 1,592 lei, and doctors were paid 2,136 lei on average in April.
Moldova getting ready to introduce private pension system…
The Chisinau Government has plans to restructure the state social insurance budget and introduce the three-pillar pension system like the one of Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. Now Moldova has a public pension system (Pillar I), but the law on private pension funds drafted in 1999 did not help introducing a three-pillar pension system and consistently increase pensions, which are now the lowest ones in South East Europe and CIS. Although they are annually indexed by 15–20 percent, the minimum pension is 406 lei (25 euros) only, while the medium pension is 564 lei (35 euros), which covers only 27–28 percent of the minimum consumer budget.
There were 624,300 beneficiaries of the public pension fund in Moldova in early 2008 and the number of retirees grows by 2 percent on average. The retirement age is 62 years for men and 57 years for women. The pension fund for 2008 accounts for 278.4 million euros, which is by 23 percent more than in 2007. Experts say that the introduction of the three-pillar pension system will reduce the pressure on state social insurance budget, will stimulate the economic growth by investing the acumulations in economy, will open new jobs and reduce unemployment.
EU supports new Transnistria settlement measures
Moldovan president has attended a governmental sitting and made the totals of his participation in the May 27, 2008 Meeting of the European Union – Moldova Cooperation Council. According to President Voronin, in Brussels "it was agreed on a tighter cooperation with the European Union in settling the Transnistrian conflict. The European Commission showed readiness to set up a fund and cover expenses for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova." In order to enjoy the eventual EU contribution, President Voronin continued, the Transnistrian settlement problem shall be discussed now "very transparently in all formats as never before, without hiding anything." Also, President Voronin emphasised that a "completely reciprocal agreement on increasing the confidence-building action programme between Chisinau and Tiraspol" was reached with Brussels. In this context, Voronin asked governmental structures "to estimate eventual expenses for the territorial reintegration of the country, so that to enable the EU to assist this process." (According to Moldpres)
Activity of working groups frozen
The activity of joint working groups established after the Voronin-Smirnov meeting and made of experts representing administrations from both banks of the Dniester is blocked in continuation. The Transnistrian side wants to make clear four questions, but Chisinau does not answer, in particular: what do expert groups discuss – the implementation of decisions and initiatives by Moldovan authorities or they work on new and common documents; what regulation the expert groups shall respect – the 1997 bilateral regulation or a new regulation shall be drafted; the work of expert groups will be or not covered by reports and how their efficiency will be measured; which is the attitude of Chisinau towards agreements it has formerly signed with Transnistria? Transnistria’s representatives consider that it makes no sense to discuss the resumption of work of expert groups as long as Chisinau does not answer these questions.
Transnistria not warming new National Security Concept of Republic of Moldova
The official propaganda of the Transnistrian regime has had an extremely negative reaction towards the National Security Concept of the Republic of Moldova adopted by Moldovan Parliament. It bitterly criticised some basic goals of the concept, in particular:
- Ensuring respect for the permanent neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova;
- Restoring the territorial integrity of the state, getting rid of the foreign military presence, strengthening the independence and sovereignty of the country;
- Maintaining European integration processes in an advanced dynamic condition.
Negative reactions are particularly linked to the way the concept assesses threats against Moldova: "The presence in Transnistria of anti-constitutional military forces in the territory of the Republic of Moldova contrary to Moldovan legislation, international commitments and will of citizens encourages the consolidation of the separatist regime and perpetuates the status quo. Maintaining and consolidating the separatist regime amplify the discrepancy in the single legal framework of the Republic of Moldova, conditioning the impossibility to provide legal assistance to Moldovan citizens from the Transnistrian region, inclusively jeopardising the international legal cooperation in this area." In this regard, the Transnistrian propaganda insists that the concept runs counter declared initiatives by Moldovan authorities to build confidence between the two banks of the Dniester. Indeed, Transnistria insists that the clause on permanent neutrality of Moldova is just a screen to lull Russia’s vigilance in order to pull out its troops from the region, and then Chisinau authorities will impose their solution to the Transnistrian problem and will follow again the direction to NATO and EU. Also, it insists that Russia should give up the out-of-date norms of international law and recognise the independence of separatist enclaves from Moldova and Georgia, especially because it has promised to do this should the West recognise the independence of Kosovo. Of course, Tiraspol raises its desires in a suggestive manner to flatter Russia.
Eventual yielding by Chisinau to settle Transnistrian conflict
Contacts between Russian and Moldovan officials have intensified much after the April meeting between President Voronin and Transnistrian leader Smirnov. There were rumours that the May 20, 2008 visit to Chisinau by Sergey Mironov, Chairman of Federation Council of Russia’s Federal Assembly, aimed to exchange opinions regarding possibility to quickly settle the Transnistrian conflict. The same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asked representatives of states participating in the process of settlement of frozen conflicts not to meddle but to support joint efforts by parties. As Russia-supported separatist regimes are parties in frozen conflicts, Lavrov’s message is very clear. In this context, Mironov’s visit was irrelevant. Mironov’s statement that keys to settle the conflict are in the hands of Chisinau and Tiraspol means that Russia does not hurry up to give green light to a rapid resolution. Following Mironov’s visit to the Moldovan capital, the chairman of the State Duma committee for relations with CIS and fellows, Alexei Ostrovsky, has visited Chisinau and Tiraspol, while Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Andrei Stratan has met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Russian and Moldovan officials "were satisfied with the level and dynamics of Moldovan-Russian political dialogue, saying that it will help resolve problems related to bilateral cooperation." Diplomatic contacts aim to prepare the agenda of talks between Presidents Medvedyev and Voronin, which will be part of the forthcoming CIS summit in early June.
While nothing concrete was revealed after the meeting of the two foreign ministers, a press interview with Alexei Ostrovsky has disclosed very interesting facts. Indeed, Ostrovsky revealed facts discussed with Moldovan officials and yielding that President Voronin would accept in order to settle the Transnistrian conflict, in particular:
- Federative relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol, including Transnistria’s right to veto issues related to national security, defence, foreign policy, neutrality of the state, accession to international political, economic and military organisations. Chisinau realises that the law on basic principles for the Transnistrian settlement would be an obstacle in this respect;
- Reconsideration of the status of Russian language in the eventual unified state and combat of "actions aimed to Romanise" the Republic of Moldova;
- Revision of the law on citizenship in order to allow only holders of Russian citizenship from Transnistria to run public offices in Moldova (the current law on citizenship leaves room for irregular treatment).
The Russian dignitary said that Russia will not recognise the independence of Transnistria under such circumstances. He reiterated that Russian authorities have a clear and coherent stance regarding the Russian military contingent from the Transnistrian region. It will be withdrawn only after the political settlement of the conflict.
At a May 29 meeting between Ostrivsky and Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov the latter emphasised that initiatives and good intentions by Moldovan president are a political bluff and they cannot be trusted. In order to regain the confidence of Transnistrian authorities, President Voronin should officially respond to Transnistria’s offer to sign a good neighbourhood agreement, as well as to prove that he respects his promises: to join Moldova to the Russia-Belarus Union; to declare the Russian as an official language; to turn the country into a confederation, etc. Smirnov warned that Russia’s plans to integrate Transnistria into Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is an inadequate solution. Russia should provide the promised economic assistance, in compliance with the so-called "Zhukov-Smirnov" Protocol signed two years ago. The Russian dignitary agreed that the solution to the Transnistrian conflict should suit Transnistria, but stressed that there is a dose of seriousness in President Voronin’s initiatives and the yielding the Moldovan leader has allegedly accepted are worth of consideration.
Transnistrian observers consider that Russia could present a well-rounded rapid conflict resolution plan by autumn, when the parliamentary electoral campaign in Moldova will be close. State Duma chairman Boris Grizlov is expected to visit Chisinau in that period. According to Transnistrian observers, electoral circumstances would exercise a reeling pressing on President Voronin, who would suffer electoral losses, should he turn down an eventual new Russian plan, and he would have to yield much to Transnistria, should he give green light to the plan.
Communist organisations from Transnistria held a protest meeting in the central market in Tiraspol on May 17, 2008. Protesters shouted slogans and urged the Transnistrian administration and oligarchy to pay decent salaries and pensions and control galloping prices. They accused Transnistrian authorities of hiding the economic disaster in the region. They demanded the resignation of Smirnov and Supreme Soviet, equal access to mass media for all political forces from the region. The May 17 protest against Tiraspol authorities was the amplest one since the separatist regime rules the breakaway region. According to knowledgeable sources 1,000–2,000 persons attended the protest. The permanent rise of prices of food products and other first-need products motivates the population to protest. According to statistics, prices of foodstuffs have grown by 123 percent the last year. The medium salary on Transnistrian economy amounts to approximately 220 dollars, while people have to spend about 3/4 of their earnings on food and communal services. At the same time, Transnistrian authorities are incapable to pay off debts towards GAZPROM, raising new debts of over 200 million dollars in 2007 alone.
Meeting of the Republic of Moldova – European Union Cooperation Council
Brussels hosted the 10th Meeting of the Republic of Moldova – European Union Cooperation Council on May 27, 2008. Taking part in the meeting on behalf of the EU were Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, Chairman of the Cooperation Council and head of the EU Delegation, Mr. Kalman Mizsei, EU Special Representative for the Republic of Moldova. The Moldovan delegation was led by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. In Brussels, Mr. Voronin has also met Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, and Mr. Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The meeting has focused on topics such as results of implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan (EUMAP); economic and political progresses made by Moldova; situation regarding democracy, the rule of law, human rights; border management and activity of the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to Moldova and Ukraine. An informal sitting has discussed the Transnistrian conflict.
EU representatives welcomed the progress made by Moldova in most areas of the EUMAP (as reflected in the April 2008 Progress Report by the European Commission), as well as achievements reached in the EU-Moldova relations (the entry into force of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements and the Autonomous Trade Preferences).
On this basis, the EU reconfirmed its readiness to start reflections on a new agreement with the Republic of Moldova, going beyond the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. At the same time, the EU underlined the need for further reform efforts, in particular as regards the strengthening of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, media freedom, the fight against corruption, and the business and investment climate. Moldova’s capacity to ensure that the 2009 parliamentary elections would be prepared and conducted in a fully democratic manner is also very important.
As regards the Transnistrian issue, the EU reiterated its support to the measures initiated by President Voronin to build confidence between Chisinau and Tiraspol and highlighted its strong engagement in the efforts to resume the 5+2 settlement talks. It assured that it will support these initiatives by providing financial assistance.
In his turn, President Voronin reconfirmed the irreversibility of the European integration course of the Republic of Moldova.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Dissensions related to the signing of Convention on small cross-border traffic between the Republic of Moldova and Romania continued to mark the Moldovan-Romanian relations, though Moldova has tried to change a little the accent in bilateral relations. Thus, Moldovan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Valeriu Ostalep paid a working visit to Bucharest on May 28, 2008 and met there State Secretary Adrian Ciocanea, head of the Department for Foreign Affairs, and Raduta Matache, State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, and he was received by Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu.
According to the press-releases of both foreign ministries (www.mfa.md and www.mae.ro), the visit aimed to discuss "concrete ways to develop Romanian-Moldovan cooperation" in order to support the European integration of Moldova. The press releases did not provide any information about the Convention on small cross-border traffic, which was initially included on the working agenda of the visit. Instead of it, the sides have discussed the negotiation of draft Basic and Border treaties. Also, they discussed mechanisms of implementing assistance projects, aspects of consular cooperation and abolition of transit visa regime with Romania for Moldovan citizens who hold Schengen visas.
During the visit, Ostalep and Matache held a briefing for EU ambassadors in Bucharest, with the Moldovan official reporting Moldova’s latest progresses in European integration process and seeking support from EU member states to get a negotiation mandate in 2008. In her turn, Ms. Matache reiterated Romania’s support to the European integration of the Republic of Moldova.
Note. In an interview with the TV channel "Moldova-1", David Kramer, U.S. deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy and Human rights, has invited the Republic of Moldova and Romania to sign the bilateral State Border treaty. His call preceded Ostalep’s visit to Bucharest.
Republic of Moldova – Russia
The Moldovan-Russian relations have been marked by several reciprocal official visits.
Sergey Mironov, Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly, paid an official visit to Moldova on May 18–20, 2008. During the visit, he met Moldovan Speaker Marian Lupu, President Vladimir Voronin, Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii, and Gagauz Governor Mihail Formuzal.
The sides have discussed issues related to development of bilateral commercial-economic cooperation, especially at the regional level (ex. natural gas supply, Moldovan wine exports to Russia, launching of Russian investment projects in Moldovan regions, etc.) and settlement of the Transnistrian conflict.
Speaking about commercial-economic relations, Mr. Mironov proposed to elaborate a long-term economic cooperation programme between Moldova and Russian Federation till 2020, while Mr. Lupu expressed Moldova’s interest to ratify the Protocol to the 2007 Intergovernmental Agreement on principles of imposing indirect taxes in reciprocal commerce. Mironov reiterated that Russia is calling for the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict within a sovereign and territorially integrated Moldova.
The Transnistrian issue and Moldovan-Russian cooperation have been tackled during a May 29, 2008 working visit by Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European integration, to the Russian Federation. Moldovan and Russian Foreign ministers have signed an advisory plan between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova and the Foreign Ministry of Russia for 2008.
Republic of Moldova – Ukraine
Energy matters have been reintroduced on agenda of Moldovan-Ukrainian relations. A new round of negotiations on price of Ukrainian electricity supplied to Moldova took place in Kiev on May 20. Following negotiations between Moldovan First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Dodon, Minister of Economy and Commerce, and Yuri Prodan, Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine, Ukraine will ensure stable electricity supply to Moldova till the end of 2020. But starting June 2008, the price of Ukrainian electricity will grow up to 4.4 U.S. cents per kWh (compared with the old price of 4.0 U.S. cents per kWh), and starting July 1, 2009, the neighbouring country will sell its electricity accordingly to wholesale prices on its electricity market (about 6.2 U.S. cents per kWh), applying a discounting coefficient for Moldova.
The Kiev consultations have also focused on Moldovan-Ukrainian cooperation in building the high-tension power line Novodnestrovsk-Balti.
New foreign ambassadors accredited in Chisinau
On May 30, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin received credentials from new foreign ambassadors to Moldova, as follows:
- Manuel Cosio Duran, Athens-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Mexico;
- Abdullah bin Zaher bin Saif Al Hussni, Moscow-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Oman Sultanate;
- Dagmar Repcekova, Bucharest-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Slovakia;
- Zalmai Aziz, Moscow-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Afghanistan;
- Debashish Chakravarti, Moscow-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of India;
- Andreas Venter, Kiev-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of South Africa;
- Francisco-Javier Lozano, Bucharest-based Apostolic Nuncio;
- Zeljko Radulovic, Podgorica-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Montenegro;
- Ahmet Ferit Ulker, Chisinau-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Turkey;
- Rasem Yacoub Hashem, Bucharest-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Jordan;
- Gyorgy Varga, Chisinau-based Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Hungary.
Republic of Moldova – SEECP
On May 20, the Bulgarian city of Pomorie hosted the Meeting of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Foreign Ministers organised under the auspices of the Bulgarian SEECP Presidency. The Moldovan delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. In an address to the meeting, Mr. Stratan has presented priorities and goals of the future Moldovan SEECP Presidency, among them: development of the SEECP-EU dialogue and strengthening of European prospects of South East European states, and regional cooperation within SEECP.
The meeting adopted the Strategic Action Programme of the Regional Cooperation Council, the report on Bulgarian SEECP Presidency and the Pomorie Joint Declaration.
On May 21, Pomorie hosted the 11th Summit of SEECP Heads of State and Government at which President Vladimir Voronin took over the one-year mandate of SEECP Chairman-in-Office on behalf of Moldova. The summit approved the Pomorie Joint Declaration.
Republic of Moldova – CEI
On May 26, Chisinau hosted the Meeting of the Central European Initiative Parliamentary Committee, which focused on development of regional cooperation to bring South East European states closer to the EU. Taking part in the meeting were parliamentarians from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary.
1 See also www.ziua.ro from 27.05.2008.
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Elections in Gagauzia as prelude of parliamentary elections
Igor Botan, 31 May 2008
The intrigue of elections for the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia held in two rounds on March 16 and 30, 2008 consisted in updating the ratio of political forces from the region. The same political groups which joined the race for the ranking of Gagauz Governor (head of executive) in December 2006 committed themselves to contest the supremacy of the regional legislature