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Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VII, issue 138, 1–31 May, 2009
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
Note by ADEPT: The Parliament failed to elect a chief of state, with the May 20 elections being invalid as only 60 PCRM parliamentarians attended them and the May 28 elections were postponed for June 3, 2009 through an unclear procedure unstipulated by legal regulations.
Vladimir Voronin was elected chairman of the Parliament by 60 PCRM MPs. Although the law on Status of the Member of Parliament indicates an incompatibility of the MP office with the position of the chief of state, Vladimir Voronin kept cumulating these offices after the deadline granted by law to settle the incompatibility. This situation made opposition lawmakers appeal to the Constitutional Court, but the law court does not hurry up to make a decision in this respect.
Only PCRM MPs have elected the deputy speakers of legislature, in particular:
- Vladimir Turcan was elected first deputy speaker of the Parliament. Experts note that neither the Constitution, nor the Parliament’s Regulation and flow chart of legislature contain an office such as "first deputy speaker" and its status is not legally regulated;
- Grigore Petrenco was elected deputy speaker of the Parliament.
1.2. Legislative acts
Decision concerning numerical and nominal composition of the Permanent Bureau of the Parliament. It establishes the numerical composition of the Parliament’s Permanent Bureau, which counts for 11 members, including ex-officio – speaker, first deputy speaker and deputy speakers of the Parliament. Respectively, PCRM MPs will run 7 offices and leaders of the opposition parliamentary factions will run another four.
Decision approving the numerical and nominal composition of the permanent parliamentary commissions. Ten permanent commissions are set, by one more than in the 16th Legislature:
- The legal commission for appointments and immunities;
- The commission for economic policy, budget and finance;
- The commission for national security, defence and public order;
- The commission for foreign policy and European integration;
- The commission for human rights;
- The commission for public administration, environment and area development;
- The commission for youth, education, science and media;
- The commission for culture, tourism and sport;
- The commission for agriculture and food industry;
- The commission for social protection, healthcare and family.
Note by ADEPT: Opposition MPs have allotted seats in permanent commissions, but did not accept leading offices granted by the parliamentary majority in the commissions.
Note by ADEPT: In connection with the resignation of the Government, the latter is in charge with administrating only public affairs until members of the new cabinet will be sworn in.
Decision concerning admission plans in 2009 for bachelor’s degree (cycle I) and master’s degree (cycle II), secondary professional education and admission plan for 2010–2014. According to the decision, the Ministry of Economy and Trade on the basis of proposals by competent ministries, in case of the lack of candidates and depending on the necessity to respect the effective education requirements, will operate the redistribution of admission plans for higher and secondary education to some specialties (except for economics, foreign languages, politics, international relations, sports) in the limits of admission plans.
Note by ADEPT: Independent experts describe the limits introduced for a number of specialties as abusive and meddling in university autonomy, as well as violation of the freedom to choose a profession and job.
Decisions approving some policy documents (plans, strategies):
- The action programme on youth for 2009.
Decisions approving some regulations:
- The regulation concerning public procurements of work design services;
- The technical concept of the Automatic Information System called State Register of Public Procurements;
2.2. Sittings. Decisions
A New Programme with IMF
Incumbent prime minister has met a mission from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Chisinau to negotiate a new programme for Moldova. The Head of IMF mission said that the Government has to make a choice between two kinds of programmes with the IMF: STAND BY, which provides funding under market conditions to countries which signed the PRGF, or BLEND, an intermediary programme which provides partial funding under concessional conditions. Moldova’s prime minister stated that the domestic economy faces a complicated situation, which is worsened by political crisis, and called for the negotiation and signing of a new programme with IMF regardless of short-term political developments.
Sergiu Stati was appointed Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Moldova to Turkey.
Note by ADEPT: Stati is adviser to chief of state. After the April 5, 2009 parliamentary elections enter the Parliament as member of the PCRM faction, and even was nominated chairman of the commission for foreign policy and European integration.
Ion Ciornii was recalled as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Moldova to Lithuania.
Note by ADEPT: Ciornii was recently assigned ambassador to Lithuania and he handed in his credentials in late 2007.
The Labour Glory Order was awarded to Constantin Cheles, director of the state-run enterprise At-Prolin based in Ceadir-Lunga city.
Vladimir Ianiev, deputy director-general of the Joint Stock Society Elevator Kelley Grains based in Causeni city, was awarded the Order of the Republic.
The chief of state has issued some decrees on awarding some groups of officers from the Information and Security Service, Interior Ministry and State Guard and Protection Service.
3.2. Sittings. Decisions. Statements
Optimisation of pre-university education institutions
Moldova’s president has convoked a sitting on reorganisation and optimisation of secondary professional and vocational education institutions. Participants reiterated the necessity to optimise the professional education system, given real needs of staff of domestic economy and areas. It was proposed the equable regional assignment of secondary professional secondary vocational education institutions, their specialisation depending on socio-economic profile of territories and optimisation of institutions with the same profile. The chief of state stressed the importance of starting reforming secondary professional and secondary vocational education institutions, in order to modernise, strengthen capacities of the professional education system, and enhance its efficiency and quality of education.
Agenda of electoral applications
Vladimir Voronin has convoked a sitting on actions to be taken with the purpose to resolve problems of people tackled during the electoral campaign for parliamentary elections. He stressed the importance of finalising the action plan on fulfilment of applications, instructing the Ministry of Local Public Administration to table a strict record of the process of fulfilment of applications. As well, Vladimir Voronin demanded an increased attention for private issues approached during meetings with electors. The sitting also considered the process of implementation of national programmes: gasification of localities; water supply; repairing of roads, stressing the necessity of maintaining implementation paces of these strategic documents.
Concerns with food security
A sitting chaired by the chief of state has heard a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, which says that more than 1.1 million hectares of farm land were sowed for the 2009 crop, including 433,000 hectares with autumn crops, of them 310,000 with wheat. The autumn crops are in a good condition after winter, but warm weather, shortage of rainfalls and reduction of humidity reserves in soil in April-May halted the growing of cereals. In order to ensure the food security, Vladimir Voronin recommended the temporary cessation of food wheat exports and consideration of opportunity to stop the fodder wheat exports. As well, it was reiterated the importance of increasing efforts to enlarge irrigated fields. The Government was instructed to consider other possibilities aimed to improve the situation of agro-food sector and farmers.
Meeting with Gagauz legislators
Vladimir Voronin has informally met members of the People’s Assembly of UTA Gagauzia at the presidential residence in Condrita. Participants discussed the socio-political and economic situation in Moldova, in general, and development of UTA Gagauzia, in particular. They also discussed the recent presidential initiative on elaboration of a complex sustainable development programme for Gagauzia, the necessity of keeping and developing the cultural, linguistic and ethnical identity of Gagauzians.
1. Inflation and prices
Inflation unlikely gives headaches…
Inflation in Moldova was 0.3 percent in April, and a deflation of 1.7 percent was recorded since the beginning of 2009. In particular, prices of food products and manufactured goods have increased by 0.3 percent each, while tariffs for public services have grown by 0.1 percent.
The deflation reveals in fact the plans of some economic agents (which reduced prices) to maintain or the least to slow down the reduction, sometimes important in a short period, of sales in crisis conditions. The fall of consumption fuelled by decline in population income (reduction of remittances, wages and other revenues, inclusively from investments, undesired vacations or even dismissal of employees) and enterprises, the use of savings, as well as reduction of people’s and business capacity to get credits generate and sometime encourage the inflation.
Unquestionably, the deflation is favourable for all consumers in Moldova, especially for those earning little. As well, it advantages the state as consumer when it purchases food products and manufactured goods for orphanages, kindergartens, elderly asylums, army etc. The further fall of prices will make consumer happier. But the satisfaction of falling prices has a short term, while on a long term it could turn into dissatisfaction, as in conditions of a long deflation enterprises reduce/stop their production or even become insolvent and/or shut up.
This fact amplified by reduction of people’s incomes in Moldova reduces incomes to the national public budget (state, social insurance and health insurance) and wages of population. Even more, about 70 percent of the state budget incomes for the 2007–2008 years were made of customs fees. Imports have dropped by about 33 percent in the 1st quarter of 2009, as well as customs fees. In consequence, all have suffered: employees in private and public sectors, retirees, invalids, students and even enterprises which provide the state with goods/works/services. Public investments in roads, current and capital repairs, constructions, equipment etc. are on the decline or even cease.
2. Banking system
Deposits in lei are on the continuous decline…
The supply of deposits in banking system turned over about 22.5 billion lei in early April 2009, and decreased by more than 833 million lei (3.6 percent) compared with the last month due to the fall of deposits in domestic currency by more than 1.56 billion (about 12 percent), while the supply of deposits in foreign currency has increased by more than 728 million lei (7 percent). The supply of forward deposits was 5.74 billion lei and decreased by more than 246 million lei compared with February 2009. Their share has decreased by 0.2 percentage points, down to 25.5 percent of the overall supply of deposits. At the same time, the supply of spot deposits has decreased by about 586 million lei (3.5 percent), down to about 16.758 billion lei. The supply of forward deposits in lei was more than 8.19 billion lei in late March 2009, by over 1.19 billion lei (about 13 percent) compared with the last month, following the decline of deposits in lei of individuals and economic agents by about 1.03 billion lei (more than 13 percent) and over 163 million lei (about 11 percent) respectively.
The supply of forward deposits in foreign currency has increased by 605 million lei (7.6 percent), up to 8.565 billion lei. Forward deposits in lei attracted in March 2009 accounted for more than 1.257 billion lei, which is by over 103 million lei less than in February 2009. The fall was linked to the decline in deposits of individuals by more than 68 million lei (6.5 percent), as well as of deposits of businesses by about 35 million lei (11.6 percent). Therefore, the supply of forward deposits of individuals in lei rose by 78 percent in February 2009, up to about 79 percent of overall forward deposits in lei attracted in March.
The average interest rate on forward deposits in lei decreased by 0.48 percentage points in March 2009, down to an annual rate of 19.36 percent (14.31 percent for businesses and 20.71 percent for individuals, compared with 14.4 percent and 21.38 percent respectively in February 2009). According to NBM, forward deposits in foreign currency accounted for 2,127.6 million lei (equivalent to 196.7 million dollars) in the period concerned, and increased by 585.6 million lei (38 percent) due to the rise in deposits of individuals by 388.3 million lei or 27.2 percent, as well as to deposits of businesses by 197.3 million lei or 2.7 fold. The average interest rate on forward deposits in foreign currency was 10.18 percent (6.78 percent for businesses and 10.76 percent for individuals).
3. Foreign trade
Reversal of positions…
Exports of Moldovan goods to EU were worth 154.2 million dollars in nominal value in the 1st quarter of 2009, decreasing by more than 14 percent compared with January-March 2008. According to NBS, exports to EU count for more than 55 percent of overall exports in January-March 2009. On the other hand, imports from EU were worth 301.6 million dollars, by 34.8 percent less than in January-March 2008, covering 38.6 percent of overall imports (44.2 percent in January-March 2008). The trade balance deficit with EU increased by 28.3 percent in 2009, up to 147.4 million dollars (282.9 million dollars in January-March 2008).
Moldova’s main export partners in the EU are: Romania (57.3 million dollars, 20.5 percent of overall exports), Italy (29.3 million dollars or 11.4 percent of overall exports), Germany (16.2 million dollars or 10.5 percent of overall exports), United Kingdom (11.9 million dollars or 4.3 percent of overall exports), Poland (9 million dollars or 3.2 percent of overall exports). Moldova’s main partners in terms of imports from EU are: Romania (54.1 million dollars or 6.9 percent of overall imports), Germany (50 million dollars or 6.4 percent of overall imports), France (42.4 million dollars or 5.4 percent of overall imports), Italy (39.8 million dollars or 5.1 percent of overall imports), Poland (15.8 million dollars or 2 percent of overall imports), Austria (14.2 million dollars or 1.8 percent of overall imports).
At the same time, it is interesting that the external trade has declined in conditions of a reversal of rating both for exports and for imports. Exports to Ukraine dropped the most (-59 percent) because of the serious depreciation of Ukrainian hryvna. In particular, exports to Ukraine count for 10 percent of overall exports in January-March 2008, compared with 5.1 percent in the similar period of this year. Great rises (but small in absolute terms) were recorded for countries such as South Africa (91.1 fold), Switzerland (5.5 fold), Hungary (2.5 fold) and Iraq (2.4 fold). As for imports, the surprise is greater. Despite the formality, the Russian Federation has lost its status of No.1 trade partner in terms of imports, descending to the 6th place. Instead, Kazakhstan has become the No.1 partner. The situation was surprised by some domestic publications and economists, who monitor the external trade and note that "Gazprom has founded a joint enterprise with the Kazakh Company Kaztransgaz, through which it buys natural gas and re-export them further." This proves the very high share of gas in imports from this country (more than 20 percent). Therefore, Turkmenistan would be the No.1 trade partner, should Gazprom import gas from this country on the basis of the same scheme…
Remittances sent to Moldova by individuals working abroad via commercial banks in the 1st quarter of 2009 exceeded 227 million dollars, which is by about 93.6 million dollars (more than 29 percent) less than in the similar period of 2008. At the same time, about 181.5 million dollars or 80 percent of overall transfers in the 1st quarter of 2009 came via rapid money transfer systems. This indicator was about 261.6 million dollars (about 82 percent) in the 1st quarter of 2008. Money transfers by individuals working abroad via commercial banks amounted to 1.66 billion dollars in 2008 and rose by more than 36 percent compared with 2007.
Majority of indicators are on the decline…
According to a NBS report for the 1st quarter of 2008, majority of economic indicators are on the decline. The industrial output has decreased by 24 percent, exports and imports for the same period declined by more than 18 percent and 25 percent respectively, and therefore related taxes and fees collected to the state budget have dropped as well, reducing much the incomes and endangering many national projects. In addition, almost all types of transports experienced declines of more than 50 percent. The retailing and service sectors face decreasing transactions and operations compared with three months or half a year ago. Capital investments have decreased by more than 40 percent, this being an unprecedented situation compared with last years.
6. Labour market
Unemployment is on the rise…
This is one more proof that the unemployment is on the rise. Many enterprises send their personnel in undesired vacations or even dismiss them. The explanation seems to be simple, as many enterprises cannot sell their products, do not have incomes, and therefore, cannot pay salaries, so that they do not have any other solution but to dismiss some employees. In fact, authorities indicated personnel cuts when speaking about reduction of budgetary expenses. Moldova faces the risk to experience a situation like in late 1990s, when the unemployment rate was over 11 percent and salary and pension arrears accounted for hundreds of millions in nominal terms lasted months.
The number of employees in agriculture has dropped much (about 23 percent of all employees, compared with about 28 percent in early 2008), by more than 88,000 people. The explanation would have two reasons: 1. the emigration of population to other countries (in particular from rural areas); 2. seeking a job in urban areas. In addition, the number of employees in industrial and building sectors has decreased by about 5 percent on average (crisis effects). According to latest surveys, the unemployment has hit more than 80 percent of families that means at least a family member was dismissed or obliged to take an undesired vacation. Respectively, 25 percent of those who lost their jobs have plans to immigrate to other countries.
Transnistrian leaders not nourishing illusions regarding resumption of negotiation process
Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov said in an interview with the Russian TV station TV Center on May 14 that he does not nourish illusions regarding the resumption of negotiations with the Chisinau authorities. Smirnov seized the occasion to speak about the impact of the April 7, 2009 events on the Chisinau-Tiraspol relations. He said that the developments concerned were predictable, as the Republic of Moldova would promote a nationalist policy on separating people under ethnic criteria. As well, Smirnov noted that he does not trust in Chisinau authorities who sign documents and ignore them lately, and promote oscillating policies in general, either focussed on EU, or aiming at Russia. In this context, Transnistrian foreign minister Vladimir Yastrebceak delivered a speech on occasion of the "day of diplomatic worker", reiterating that the Transnistrian authorities will be ready to resume the "5+2" negotiation process just after lifting all barriers imposed to Transnistria. As well, Yastrebceak stressed that the foreign policy of Transnistria focuses on relations with Russia, Ukraine, EU and partners from CIS-2.
On occasion of the professional day of the Transnistrian security, lieutenant-general Vladimir Antiufeev has spoken about the future of the Tiraspol-Chisinau relations. The news agency INFOTAG quoted Antiufeev as saying that the key purpose of the Moldovan communists within organisation of the disturbances in Chisinau on April 7 was to prove that "nobody but the PCRM is capable to control the situation." Antiufeev stressed that "Romania’s participation in the developments in Moldova was predictable, too." By declaring the European integration policy, "Moldova is going to the ‘stomach’ of Romania. This is an objective process and no one should nourish illusions." According to Antiufeev, the authorities in Transnistria "have built mechanisms against technologies of the so-called coloured revolutions".
Developments in the Republic of Moldova will not influence Transnistria’s strategy
The Transnistrian authorities have announced that the post-electoral political developments in the Republic of Moldova cannot influence their strategy on implementing objectives related to results of the September 2006 referendum. Hence, the Tiraspol authorities have plans to keep fortifying Transnistria’s independence with the purpose to join the Russian Federation. In this framework, the "5+2" negotiations may restart only after all pressures capable to harm Transnistria’s interest will be stopped, this being a condition set in the Barvikha Declaration. So far, the Transnistrian authorities have plans to attend the Helsinki seminar which will take place in June under the OSCE auspices and discuss issues related to building reciprocal confidence in military and security areas. Transnistria has already made an expert group and expects Chisinau to do the same.
Vladimir Yastrebceac has told a news conference organized by the Institute of CIS countries chaired by Constantin Zatulin, head of Transnistrian diplomacy, that Chisinau’s statements regarding the dialogue with the Transnistrian side are meaningless as long as a new president of the Republic of Moldova is not elected. Secondly, the current status of Vladimir Voronin is unclear – head of the Parliament or head of state, and this produces confusion, obstructing the resumption of dialogue. Thirdly, it has become a tradition for Chisinau to invoke the attachment for continuing the "5+2" negotiations. However, this means nothing but bowing to western partners which it wants to assure that nothing has happened in the Republic of Moldova after the parliamentary elections, despite developments that should be taken into consideration during negotiations. Fourthly, the political instability in the Republic of Moldova may be quite lasting, and Moldovan functionaries will avoid assuming certain risks meantime, holding serious talks, while their eventual successors will like to cite the 2005 legal regulations, which stipulates a status of autonomy for Transnistrian region, but the latter does not accept it. Fifthly, taken altogether and separately these factors estrange Transnistria from the Republic of Moldova.
Harmonisation of Transnistria’s legislation to Russia’s laws – a source of conflict
On May 14, 2009 Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov sent a letter to the speaker of the Supreme Soviet, Yevgeni Shevchyuk, in connection with the "initiatives of the 17" concerning the amendment of Transnistria’s constitution, voted in the first reading on April 15, 2009. On the eve, Smirnov has instructed the Transnistrian justice minister to make a comparative and in-depth analysis of the constitutions of Transnistria and Russian Federation, in order to be able to combat the "initiative of the 17" by using the key pretext of harmonising the Transnistrian legislation with Russia’s laws. According to Smirnov’s message to Shevchyuk, after examining the text of constitutional amendments he concluded that the declared goal of harmonising Transnistria’s legislation with Russia’s regulations cannot be reached through amendments adopted in the first reading by the Supreme Soviet. On the contrary, the constitutional amendments concerned enlarge the discrepancies between Transnistria’s legislation and Russia’s laws. In this context, Smirnov stated:
- The Supreme Soviet has ignored Smirnov’s Order # 431 from August 10, 2006 concerning the harmonisation of Transnistria’s legislation with the one of the Russian Federation" and the "concept on harmonisation plan". Smirnov insists that he had issued the documents concerned for the fulfilment of tasks indicated by the results of the September 2006 referendum on independence and association with Russia;
- The harmonisation of the Transnistrian legislation with Russian regulations does not mean unification, as Transnistria and Russia have different governing forms, administrative-territorial division, budgetary and tax systems etc. In this regard, the harmonisation means just reducing to a common denominator the basic principles used by legislations of both Transnistrian region and Russia;
- The constitutional amendments did not undergo the procedures imposed by Smirnov, so that their utility for the Transnistrian legislation was not tested;
- The comparative analysis of the proposed amendments with Russia’s constitutional norms reveals that the reason of harmonising the legislation is inadequate. In particular, the Russian legislation lacks norms on withdrawal of powers from lawmakers for unmotivated absence at parliamentary sittings; deprival of some eligible functionaries of powers under parliamentary decisions; appointment by legislature of a person to fill the vacancy of president;
- The presidential governing form adopted in Transnistria at the 1995 referendum is incompatible with the appointment of a president by the Supreme Soviet for the vacancy;
- The adoption in the final reading of constitutional amendments proposed by the "initiative of the 17" will undermine the "check and balances" system, challenging political destabilisation.
On the basis of these arguments, Igor Smirnov has demanded speaker Yevgeni Shevchyuk to decline the draft constitutional amendments and deliver the proposals to the interdepartmental working group in charge with harmonising the legislation of Transnistria with Russian regulations, so that to continue the harmonisation activity.
As Smirnov’s call did not have any impact, the political competition between speaker Shevchyuk and administration of Igor Smirnov related to "the initiative of the 17" lawmakers to modify Transnistria’s constitution attracted new supporters of Smirnov. Twenty-seven legislators from the first legislature of the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet convoked a meeting to take an attitude towards "the initiative of the 17" and criticised both the proper initiative and speaker Shevchyuk, accusing him that in 2003, when he was member of the "constitutional commission" for Transnistrian settlement, he was ready for unilateral ceding to the Republic of Moldova and further wanted to involve the EU and UN as moderators of the negotiation process, while now he corrupts lawmakers and electors via some funds from the Russian Federation. However, the gravest accusation brought against Shevchyuk is that he is using the slogan of harmonising the Transnistrian legislation with Russian laws for the purpose of usurping the power and weakening the position of Transnistrian deputy president Alexandr Koroliov, by cancelling his office via the constitutional reform. Participants in the meeting, including some functionaries from Smirnov’s administration adopted a statement which brings the following recommendations:
- The draft amendment to constitution worked out on the basis of "the initiative of the 17" shall be declared anti-constitutional;
- The Supreme Soviet as a body attempting to usurp the power shall be dissolved;
- The Smirnov administration shall work out a new draft constitution, which shall be voted at a referendum and shall stipulate the transformation of the Supreme Soviet into a state assembly;
- Lawmakers of the first legislature shall found a public organisation;
- Political parties shall be invited to support the collection of signatures for the dissolution of the Supreme Soviet and organisation of a referendum.
Initiative on circulation of Russian rouble on a par with Transnistrian rouble
Concomitantly with the harmonisation of the Transnistrian legislation with Russian regulations lawmakers in Tiraspol are considering the possibility to introduce the Russian rouble in the secessionist region. However, representatives of the Transnistrian republican bank contested the initiative on legalising the circulation of Russian rouble on a par with the Transnistrian rouble. According to bank experts, the introduction of the Russian rouble in Transnistria would have the following negative effects: the loss of control on supply of currency and issuance processes; the devaluation of domestic currency; the transfer of the domestic currency into Russian currency by economic agents, so that the Transnistrian rouble will be eliminated from local circuit; the loss of control on inflation; the rise in shadow economic activity; the loss of people’s trust in economic policies promoted by authorities. Finally, Transnistria could loss its "economic sovereignty" after an eventual introduction of the Russian rouble.
Chisinau blamed for Tiraspol’s economic problems
The Transnistrian propaganda is trying to persuade people from the Transnistrian region that Chisinau carries some responsibility for Transnistria’s economic problems, as it introduced new customs regulations for Transnistrian exporters in 2006. In consequence, the industrial output of Transnistria in January-April 2009 reached only 67.5 percent of the output in the similar period of 2008. The production of the Ribnita-based Metallurgical Plant has decreased by 70 percent, indicators of light industry recorded just 55 percent, while those of building material industry recorded only 19 percent of the same period of 2008.
Updating of demographic data
According to the branch of the news agency Novy Region, which cites official statistics released by the Tiraspol ministry of economy, the population decline in the Transnistrian region is on the rise. As of April 1, 2009, there were 526,500 people in Transnistria. According to formal statistics, the natural decline of population was 771 people in January-February 2009. As many as 1,248 new-borns vs. 2,019 deaths were recorded in the period concerned. Majority of deaths were related to cardiovascular and oncologic diseases. According to statistics, 68 percent of the population of the Transnistrian region lives in urban areas and 32 percent in rural areas. As many as 618 marriages and 500 divorces were recorded in Transnistria in January-March 2009.
Successors of imperial family from Tiraspol
By occurrence or not, there is a battle of symbols between Chisinau and Tiraspol. The new Parliament elected on April 5, which is dominated by 60 percent of communists who introduce themselves as ideological successors of Lenin accordingly to their programme, convened in its first sitting on May 5, 2009. The same day, invited by Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanov visited Tiraspol. According to the news agency INFOTAG, the grand duchess visited the memorial complex in Tighina where thousands of Russian military who fought in that area in the 18th century were buried. In fact, she was invited to attend a ceremony dedicated to the 600th anniversary of the city of Tighina celebrated on October 8, 2008. But she could not come then, deploying the secretary of the head of the Russian royal family, Alexandr Zakatov. The duchess believes that one of her key tasks is the peacekeeping mission and consolidation of friendship between nations who had been part of a state once.
Launching of Eastern Partnership
On May 7 Prague hosted the Eastern Partnership summit at which the joint declaration on launching of the Eastern Partnership was signed by representatives of the European Union and the six former Soviet countries covered by the Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Moldova was represented by incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan, minister of foreign affairs and European integration.
The declaration introduces the Eastern Partnership as an EU initiative aimed to speed up the political association and continue the economic integration between EU and interested partners, as well as to give an impetus to regional economic and social development of these countries. The partnership will be based on international legal principles and fundamental values of democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as on commitments towards market economic, sustainable development and good governance. At the same time, the deepening and intensification of bilateral relations between EU and partner countries in the framework of Eastern Partnership was based on differentiation and conditionality principles, while the legislative and regulatory approximation is crucial for partner countries willing a proximity to EU. As well, the statement stresses that the new Association Agreements will focus on building wide bilateral free economic zones. Instead, the complete visa liberalisation between EU and partners is a long-term and individual objective which depends on partner, with the condition that this modality is well-administrated and safe. The statement recommends the establishing of the Parliamentary Neighbourhood Assembly of EU (EURO-NEST CP) and of a civil society forum of Eastern Partnership.
The Eastern Partnership will develop on the basis of four thematic platforms: democracy, good governance and stability; economic integrity and convergence with sectoral EU policies; energy security and people-to-people contacts.
Andrei Stratan has met Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, during the summit. The talks focussed on current social-political situation in Moldova and EU, possibilities to develop Moldova-EU relations, deterioration of Moldova-Romania relations. Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Walnder stated that the European Commission will propose soon a set of measures aimed to intensify the political dialogue and Moldova-EU cooperation, normalise relations between Chisinau and Bucharest, facilitate the travel regime for EU, and provide financial assistance to Moldova.
European Parliament resolution on Moldova
On May 7, 2009, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a Resolution on the situation in the Republic of Moldova. The main resolution provisions are the following:
- The European Union will continue the goal-oriented dialogue with the Republic of Moldova, but attaches great importance to the introduction of strong provisions regarding the rule of law and respect for human rights, while stressing that further consolidation of relations, including through the conclusion of a new, enhanced agreement, should be made contingent on a real and manifest commitment on the part of the Moldovan authorities to democracy and human rights;
- EP condemns the massive campaign of harassment, grave violations of human rights and all other illegal actions carried out by the Moldovan Government in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections and urges the Moldovan authorities to immediately cease all illegal arrests and to conduct government action in accordance with the country’s international commitments and obligations with regard to democracy, the rule of law and human rights;
- EP stresses that a national dialogue must be established, with the participation of the government and the opposition parties, civil society and representatives of international organisations in order to ride out the current situation in the Republic of Moldova, by improving democratic procedures and the functioning of democratic institutions in the Republic of Moldova;
- EP firmly believes that there is an urgent need to set up an independent investigatory committee, involving the EU, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and independent experts, aimed at ensuring an impartial and transparent process of investigation;
- EP insists that all those found responsible for the brutal violence perpetrated against detainees be brought to justice, and on a genuine reform of the legal system and the police forces in the Republic of Moldova;
- EP calls on the Moldovan authorities to restore the visa-free regime for Romanian citizens;
- EP urges the Council and the Commission, at the same time, to undertake a review of the EU’s visa system for the Republic of Moldova in order to relax the conditions for granting visas to Moldovan citizens, especially the financial conditions;
- EP requests immediate and substantial proof in support of any allegation by the Moldovan Government concerning the supposedly criminal actions of the protesters and the involvement of foreign governments;
- EP emphasizes that any new election will require a consensus between the opposition and government on concrete improvements to the electoral process;
- EP urges the Council to consider the possibility of sending a Rule of Law Mission to the Republic of Moldova, in order to assist the law enforcement authorities in their reform process, especially in the police and justice areas;
- EP calls on the Commission to submit to it a detailed report on the use of all EUfunds in the Republic of Moldova, with special focus on those allocated to good governance and democratic development.
Note by ADEPT: The chairman of the EU-Moldova parliamentary cooperation commission, Grigore Petrenco, has described the EP Resolution as an insult against Moldovan people, since it brings grave and groundless accusations against constitutional authorities of the Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, another PCRM member, the first deputy speaker of the Parliament, Vladimir Turcan, said that the Resolutions of the Council of Europe and European Parliament concerning Moldova are basic documents for negotiations between authorities and opposition.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
The diplomatic relations between the Republic of Moldova and Romania continue to be blocked, while communication between authorities of the two countries is substituted by an exchange of contradictory statements.
On the one hand, Romanian President Traian Basescu said that signing a border treaty between Romania and Republic of Moldova is useless, as it would sanction the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, calling on Moldovan authorities not to condition the signing of the small border traffic agreement with the signing of the border treaty between the two countries. At the same time, Basescu noted that the Moldova-Romania relations have "stepped backward" at governmental level, after the Chisinau authorities have introduced visa requirements for Romanians and brought groundless accusations against Romania that it was involved into violent protests on April 7. The Romanian authorities noted that they will not nominate a new ambassador in Chisinau (after the Moldovan MFAEI turned down the candidacy of Mihnea Constantinescu), but will promote a diplomat from the Romanian Embassy to Moldova to the rating of charge d’affaires. According to Romanian officials, the situation of Moldovan-Romanian relations will affect neither Romania’s policy on population of the Republic of Moldova, which will enjoy an accelerated Romanian citizenship awarding process, nor Romania’s policy on active support to Moldova in the European integration process. However, Romania’s Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu has stated in a TV interview that the signing of a new EU-Moldova agreement will be conditioned with the cancellation of visa requirements for Romanian citizens.
On the other hand, replying to Romania’s statements, the Moldovan Government accused Romania of aggressive and revengeful policy against Moldova, and said that the neighbouring country contests the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova. According to the same governmental statement released on May 19, 2009, the Moldovan authorities do not like Romania’s refusal to sign a basic political treaty and a border treaty with the Republic of Moldova, as well as the decision of the neighbouring country "to massively award the Romanian citizenship to Moldova’s citizens, its active meddling into the interior political processes." At the same time, the Moldovan Government invites the European Union to get involved as mediator in stabilising the Moldovan-Romanian relations and "neutralise Romania’s aggressive policy" which is capable to give birth to a new hotbed of regional instability, by "return it (Romania) into the path of a single EU foreign policy".
Republic of Moldova – Russia
A positive dynamic in the Moldovan-Russian relations remains. The frequent diplomatic consultations between the two countries and Russia’s support for Moldova’s external message on Romania’s guilt in the violent post-electoral developments and Romania’s revengeful policy on Republic of Moldova prove this trend.
At least three Moldovan-Russian consultations took place in May. The first consultation was held on May 6, before the launching of the Eastern Partnership, when Moldova’s incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan, minister of foreign affairs and European integration, was on a flash visit to Moscow and met there his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. According to formal reports, the ministers discussed issues related to internal political situation in Moldova, European security, CIS agenda etc. According to press releases by MFAEI, Andrei Stratan met Russian Ambassador Valeri Kuzmin on May 13 and 26 and discussed current and future Moldovan-Russian relations, as well as the way of interaction between both states within international and security institutions.
On May 15 and 18, Russian Ambassador to EU Vladimir Chizhov accused the Romanian authorities of increasing strains in the Republic of Moldova. As well, Chizhov did not like the refusal of Romania to sign a border treaty with Moldova and the initiative of President Basescu to massively award the citizenship to Romanian-born Moldovans, accusing the EU of applying double standards in this respect. On May 20, the Russian presidential administration sent a message via presidential adviser Sergei Prikhodiko, accusing Romania of provoking the April 7, 2009 unrest in Chisinau.
On the other hand, the Moldovan authorities in the person of incumbent Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Grecianii who chaired the meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of Government in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 22, 2009 gratified Romania for providing "a permanent economic and political support to Moldova."
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
On May 12, 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter the Court) pronounced a decision on the case Masaev vs. Moldova. The Court assessed the violation of the right to a fair trial and freedom of thinking, conscience and religion, and awarded 26 Euros to the applicant in pecuniary damages, 1,500 Euros in non-pecuniary damages and 1,000 Euros in costs and expenses. (Source: www.echr.coe.int, www.lhr.md)
Delegation of the Rapporteur Group on Democracy of CoE Committee of Ministers
A delegation from the Rapporteur Group for Democracy of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe visited Chisinau during May 19–20. The visit aimed to investigate the post-electoral developments. The results of investigations will be the topic of a conclusion and recommendation report. While on visit, the delegation has met Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Stratan, incumbent minister of foreign affairs and European integration, who presented the vision of Moldovan authorities regarding the events that followed the parliamentary elections.
The delegation includes heads of diplomatic missions in Strasbourg on behalf of Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and members of the CoE Secretariat. (According to a MFAEI communication)
119th session of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers
Madrid hosted on May 12 the 119th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), attended by a Moldovan delegation led by Valeriu Ostalep, deputy minister of foreign affairs and European integration. The agenda included the following topics: implementation of the Action Plan on the CoE contribution to common stability and security approved at the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government in Warsaw, CoE-EU relations and implementation of the Understanding Memorandum between the two parties; the conflict in Georgia and situation of democracy in Belarus; the election of a new Secretary-General and the takeover of the CoE Committee of Ministers Presidency by Slovenia.
In Madrid, Deputy Minister Valeriu Ostalep has also had bilateral meetings with secretaries of state of Portugal and France, first deputy premier of the Czech Republic and Estonian delegation, seeking their support for future negotiations on a new Moldova-EU agreement and Moldova-EU dialogue on visa facilitation for Moldovan citizens. (According to www.coe.int and MAEIE)
Republic of Moldova – CIS
On May 22, Astana (Kazakhstan) hosted an ordinary meeting of the council of Council of CIS Heads of Government, which was chaired by incumbent Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Grecianii. Participants approved an Action Plan on implementation of the first stage of the CIS Economic Development Strategy until 2020. The first round stipulates actions for 2009–2011 aimed to extend industrial cooperation of countries, implement interstate programmes in energy, agro-industrial and transport sectors, harmonise the legislation on employment and labour force migration etc. As well, an Action Plan on humanitarian cooperation between CIS member states for 2009–2010 was signed. (Source: www.cis.minsk.by)
Republic of Moldova – NATO
Declaration of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on the Republic of Moldova
On May 26, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) passes a declaration on the Republic of Moldova, expressing its concerns about the tense political situation in the Republic of Moldova in the wake of the elections of 5 April 2009. NATO PA expects the dialogue between the government and the opposition, as well as between the political forces and the civil society, to be real, effective and transparent. Besides, NATO PA urges the Government of the Republic of Moldova to observe the human rights and fundamental freedoms that the Republic of Moldova pledged to enforce, including by joining the Partnership for Peace.
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Moldovan economy and IMF
Iurie Gotisan, 31 May 2009
Unquestionably, the IMF and WB are the key creditors of the Republic of Moldova. Absolutely, the assistance provided by these organisations was very important throughout years. But one should note that sometimes the policies of these organisations towards Moldova did not always meet the social security interests of population