Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VIII, issue 153, 1–14 February, 2010
Activity of Public Institutions
Activity of Public Institutions
The Parliament convenes in the spring-summer session starting February 11, 2010.
1. Appointments. Dismissals
Parliamentarian Veaceslav UNTILA was excluded from the Permanent Bureau and Vasile Balan succeeded him upon AMN request.
Parliamentarian Vladimir TURCAN was excluded from the Permanent Bureau, being substituted with PCRM representative Galina Balmos.
Parliamentarian Marian LUPU, PDM Chairman, was elected member of the national commission for security, defence and public order.
Parliamentarian Dumitru DIACOV (PDM) was nominated member of the commission for foreign policy and European integration.
Parliamentarian Oleg SIRBU (PDM) was appointed member of the commission for public administration, environment and regional development.
The Parliament nominated three members of the central commission in charge with checking income and estate declarations as follows:
- Anatolie GHILAS on behalf of PDM;
- Ion PLESCA on behalf of AMN;
- Oxana DOMENTI on behalf of PCRM.
2. Legislative acts
Decision establishing the Inquiry Commission to consider the distribution of humanitarian aid and financial resources from the reserve fund in connection with the 2008 floods. The commission is due to submit to the Parliament within 60 days a draft decision examining how the humanitarian aid and the funds concerned had been disseminated. According to a communique attached to the draft decision, residents from the rayon of Briceni have signaled breaches related to dissemination of humanitarian aid and financial resources from the reserve fund foreseen to sustain the victims of floods, claiming that the funds concerned went, in particular, to supporters of the Party of Communists, sometimes on groundless reasons, and some building materials have not been delivered at all.
3. Parliamentary control. Statements
Reports on relations with Ukraine
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, as well as prime minister of Moldova reported bilateral talks and relations with Ukraine to the Parliament.
Initiative to set up a special commission
PL MP Valeriu Nemerenco recommended the Parliament to set up a parliamentary commission to consider the current situation of the retirement system in terms of social equity, and to establish single regulations in the area.
Maria CARAUS was appointed deputy minister of finance.
Ion PASCAL was nominated deputy minister of construction and regional development to succeed Anatol Turcan.
Anatolie LAPTEANU was appointed head of the Edinet territorial office of the State Chancellery, representative of the executive in the area.
Gheorghe POPA was assigned rector of the Balti-based "Alecu Russo" State University.
Radu MUDREAC was relieved from office of director of the sanitary-veterinary agency for safety of animal products.
Decision cancelling pecuniary sanctions for non-repatriated funds raised from spirits exports to the Russian Federation from April 1, 2005 to April 1, 2006. The executive took notice of a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry and decided to not apply pecuniary sanctions on non-repatriated funds raised from spirits exports to the Russian Federation from April 1, 2005 to April 1, 2006, as of October 17, 2008.
Decision concerning the special telecommunication centre. The Government decided to transfer the State-run Special Telecommunication Centre from management of the Information and Security Service to the State Chancellery. The enterprise concerned administrates the telecommunication system of central public administration authorities, ensures the protected exchange of information between public authorities, Moldovan representations in other countries, organizations, institutions and agencies of foreign public authorities. As well, the centre is the technical and technological administrator of the official website of Moldovan Government. The changes aim to foster the development in the area, enhance information transparency of executive and subordinated public authorities.
Decision concerning actions to enforce the law on decision-making transparency. It approves the regulation concerning procedures to ensure transparency of decision making process and obliges central public authorities to adopt within two months internal regulations on information, participation and consultation of drafted decisions, as well as to nominate coordinators of the public consultation process. The State Chancellery will monitor the enforcement of stipulations concerning the implementation of the law concerned.
Decision concerning the participation of the Republic of Moldova in international exhibitions in 2010. It approves the schedule of participation in exhibitions and expenses worth about 9 million lei to be covered by the Export Promotion Programme for 2010.
3. Sittings. Decisions
First sitting of governmental commission for European integration
On February 12 Prime Minister Vlad Filat chaired the first sitting of the governmental commission for European integration, which heard a report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration concerning actions taken in 2009 in terms of European integration and actions to be taken in 2010. In the context, the premier stated that the liberalization of visa regime for Moldovan citizens is a priority of his cabinet and sought maximal efforts for this purpose, noting that the EU will provide a financial assistance worth 2 million Euros to Moldova to issue biometrical passports to population, a requirement for the liberalization of visa regime. The financial support will reduce the cost of these passports by 33 percent. The premier added that he would like the governmental commission for European integration to discuss problems, not accomplishments.
State Chancellery seeks control on sale of some publications
The State Chancellery asks the Centre for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption and Prosecutor-General’s Office to consider the procedure of liquidation of publications "Moldova Suverana" and "Nezavisimaia Moldova". Despite reports that the two publications will be privatized, an analysis revealed that the two institutions are being liquidated and this process was not completed, while the state illegally allocated more than one million lei to pay off debts of the two state-run enterprises. According to available reports, the State Registration Chamber recorded three new private companies founded by administrators of the state-run enterprises "Moldova Suverana" and "Nezavisimaia Moldova", which were called like the state-run companies "Moldova Suverana" and
"Nezavisimaia Moldova", contrary to the legislation in force, Victor Bodiu underlined.
First sitting of National Council for Participation (CNP)
The first CNP sitting considered key directions of action, elected the CNP administration and set cooperation mechanisms. Attending the first sitting, prime minister assured that the Government of Moldova is open to cooperation and ready to develop a productive and practical dialogue with civil society, inclusively via CNP. According to premier, CNP chairperson will be invited to participate in all sittings of the executive, important governmental meetings, to explain the position of civil society regarding studied issues and approved decisions. At the same time, the Government will develop an open partnership with civil society and at level of all central public authorities by setting up mechanisms to consult the associative sector, particularly when drafting and surveying normative and legislative bills. CNP elected the permanent bureau made of 7 members:
- Sorin MEREACRE, from Eurasia-Moldova Representation – CNP chairman;
- Ecaterina MARDAROVICI, from Public Association "Political Club of Women 50/50" – CNP deputy chairwoman;
- Sergiu OSTAF, from Public Association "Resource Centre of Nongovernmental organizations for Human Rights from Moldova";
- Antonita FONARI, from Resource Centre "Young and Free";
- Alexandru COICA, from National Youth Council in Moldova;
- Dinu ARMASU, from Foreign Investors Association;
- Petru MACOVEI, from Independent Press Association.
Situation in energy sector
A sitting convoked by prime minister brought together representatives of public authorities and operators from the sector concerned. It discussed the need of an ample analysis in the field, including in terms of tariff formation, situation on electricity market in the context of liberalization of this market starting March 31, 2010. A topic of the sitting was the situation related to water providing issue in Balti municipality, with the prime minister instructing competent authorities to visit Balti, discuss with local administration and find necessary solutions.
Stefan URITU was appointed presidential adviser for political affairs.
Moldova’s interim president issued a decree to appoint some members of the central commission in charge with checking income and estate declarations:
- Ion CASIAN, jurist, attorney;
- Rodica HINCU, doctor habilitatus, lecturer;
- Vladislav POGHIRCA, senior adviser in the Apparatus of Moldovan President.
Interim president awarded some artists (soloists, directors, artistic directors).
2. Sittings. Decisions
Partnership actions with Romania
Totals of the visit of Romanian President Traian Basescu to the Republic of Moldova were presented during a sitting chaired by interim Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu. The chief of state instructed ministers to monitor the implementation of some agreed projects and work out a concrete action plan with real implementation terms, as well as to find levers to manage Moldovan-Romanian projects which are underway: the small border traffic agreement; the 100-million-euro funding agreement of the Republic of Moldova; the connection of Moldova’s energy system to European systems; the interconnection of railway infrastructure; the agreement on mutual recognition and equivalence of diplomas; projects on agriculture and tourism; opening of Romanian consulates in Cahul and Balti; signing of the agreement on legalization of Moldovan labor force in Romania; agreement on social protection of Moldovan citizens etc. In particular, the interim president asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration to work out a concrete action plan aimed to sign with Romania as soon as possible the partnership on integration of the Republic of Moldova into EU, which would foresee the use of European funds, as well as a common agricultural platform.
Request to disclose some secrets
Mihai Ghimpu urged the cabinet of ministers to disclose a series of archive documents which would be considered and analyzed by the commission in charge with studying and assessing the totalitarian communist regime of the Republic of Moldova. The request is based on an appeal by chairperson of the commission concerned, who notified the chief of state over impossibility to consider a series of documents issued after 1974 and stored in the archives of Moldova, as the access to these papers is restricted.
1. Banking sector
Banks "have shown signs of fatigue" in 2009 …
According to an informative note of the National Bank of Moldova (NBM) as of February 12, 2010, during 2009 the Moldovan banking system registered a downward trend, generated largely by global economic crisis. Thus, Tier I capital decreased by 2.4% at end of 2009, constituting slightly more than 6.45 billion MDL. According to the NBM requirement, Tier I capital of commercial banks in Moldova should be at least 100 million.
In all banks, the indicator in question exceeds the minimum regulated and further reflects their resilience against risks taken (risk of bad loans, other assets etc.). The decrease in Tier 1 capital per system was determined by withdrawal of Investprivatbank’s license and by some banks’ losses related primarily to expansion of their reserves to cover credit risks. Under crisis conditions, some shareholders have given financial support to banks, the additional issue of shares amounting to over 290 million.
The share of foreign investment in banks was over 77% or about 4 percentage points more compared to early 2009 and reflects the increase in the social capital for account of current non-resident shareholders. The average risk weighted capital adequacy ratio of Moldovan banking system was over 32% at the end of the year, while the minimum required is 12%. Maintaining this indicator at a high level provides banks stability and safety under the conditions when there is an increased lending potential. Another important financial indicator, total assets, rose last year by 2.2% to about 39.92 billion MDL (about 3.63 billion USD). This increase was in particular due to an increase of bonds by over 3%.
The ratio of non-performing loans to total loans increased by 10.4 percentage points from the beginning of 2009, accounting 16.3% at the end of 2009. The need to cover potential credit losses led to an increase of credit loss ratio by 4.7 percentage points up to 9.7% at the end of 2009. At the same time, the largest part of the loan portfolio on December 31, 2009 was held by industry and trade – 51.6% of the total, followed by agriculture and food industry – 15.9%, loans for real estate, construction and development – 12.5% and consumer loans – 8.7%.
NBM states that in 2009 the banking system losses mounted to 145.5 million MDL. As a result, return on assets and equity had negative values at the end of 2009: ROA (-0.4) % and ROE (-2.1) %. However, the liquidity indicators of the Moldovan banking sector showed during 2009 a positive trend, thus reflecting the satisfactory capacity of banks to honor current and long-term liabilities. The principle I on the banks’ liquidity (assets with repayment period of more than two years must not exceed the financial resources with potential withdrawal term over two years) was 0.6. The principle II (liquid assets / total assets must not be less than 20%) was 38.3%.
With regard to bank deposits, they decreased in 2009 by about 3% to approximately 26,417 billion MDL, including deposits of individuals – by 3.7% to about 16,466 billion MDL. Deposits of legal persons dropped down by about 5% to 8,012 billion MDL.
Efforts of Kazakh OSCE Chairmanship to settle Transnistrian conflict
As the OSCE Chairman, the Kazakh Republic pledged to contribute actively to settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. Statements in this respect were delivered by the representative of Kazakhstan to OSCE, Bolat Nurgalyev, who visited the Republic of Moldova in early February 2010. After meeting the leadership of the Republic of Moldova and leaders of the Tiraspol administration, Nurgalyev reported that representatives of participants in the Transnistrian settlement process are set to meet in Vienna on March 1 for consultations. According to Nurgalyev, there are premises to encourage some agreements shaped last year, particularly issues relating to needs of people from both banks of the Dniester River.
The political representative of the Republic of Moldova, Deputy Premier for Reintegration Victor Osipov stressed that expert groups resumed their work and are expected to help building confidence and develop bilateral cooperation. According to Osipov, during February 11–25 the expert groups were expected to discuss eventual common projects to be developed. On that occasion, the names of the heads of working groups on behalf of Chisinau were revealed: Octavian Calenii – economy and commerce; Boris Gherasim – infrastructure and railway communications; Deputy Minister Gheorghe Turcanu – healthcare; Ion Stavila, head of the governmental bureau for reintegration – demilitarization; Vasile Bumacov, deputy chairman of the Union of Agricultural Producers – agriculture and ecology; Deputy Minister Loretta Handrabura – education; Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family Sergiu Sainciuc – humanitarian assistance.
On the other hand, a representative of the Transnistrian region, Tiraspol foreign minister Vladimir Yastrebceak insisted on a complex approach of issues related to bilateral cooperation and development of common projects for benefit of citizens, so that to avoid politicizing them. In this context, Tiraspol leader Igor Smirnov stated that economic and political problems shall be tackled separately. Thus, Tiraspol administration reconfirms clauses of the older strategy – to settle just economic problems with Chisinau and leave aside the political issues as long as possible.
Provocations by Tiraspol administration go on
After Transnistrian customs officers held in late January the head of Moldovan peacekeepers, Aurel Fondos, other provocations followed in early February. Thereby, armed Transnistrian border guards held on January 27 four Moldovan citizens who reside a commune from the right bank of the Dniester for having crossed the iced river, and so allegedly crossed the Transnistrian border illegally. Representatives of the Joint Control Commission (CUC) on behalf of Moldova described the accusations as absurd, as the Transnistrian administration cancelled in 2008 the obligation for residents of border localities to pay customs fees and get registered while crossing the border.
However, Transnistrian law enforcement organs decided to hold the four citizens in custody for a 60-day term and obliged them to pay an overall fine of about 20,000 dollars for an alleged illegal cutting of trees. Relatives of the held persons said that the fifth one was released immediately to tell them that they must pay the fine, and this looks like a money extortion attempt. The four suspects were released on February 11 after the Moldovan authorities have involved representatives of international organizations, as well as of participants in the "5+2" Transnistrian settlement format.
Some days before, on February 8, another provocative manifestation was recorded – the US ambassador to Moldova, Asif Chaudhry, was denied access to the territory controlled by the Transnistrian regime to attend a meeting of Moldovan-Transnistrian working groups aimed to build confidence between the two banks of the Dniester.
Municipal elections in Transnistrian region polarize political forces
The municipal elections in the Transnistrian region set for March 28, 2010 motivated the interest for an additional attempt to oppose the regime of Igor Smirnov. So, an initiative to build a political bloc of leftwing parties was raised in early February. The initiative was supported by the Party of Communists of Transnistria led by Oleg Horjan; Social Democratic Party led by Alexandr Radcenco; Komsomolist Organisation of Transnistria led by Mihail Mihalitin. Some nongovernmental organizations also supported this initiative.
The declared goal of initiators of ideas is to consolidate an opposition political force to resolve pressing problems of citizens from the left bank of the Dniester; extend competences of local administration; limit competences of the central administration head, limit the number of terms for running this office; introduce a proportional electoral system; ensure conditions for an equal access of people to justice and of political forces to mass media etc. It is worth noting that no organized political force in Transnistria, even under umbrella of big business from the region, succeeded a serious opposition to Tiraspol leader Igor Smirnov who rules the region for approximately 20 years.
Intelligence scandal between Transnistrian settlement guarantors
The issue 5 of the Ukrainian publication "Zerkalo Nedeli" from February 13, 2010 published an article titled "Story about failure of Russian intelligence services in Ukraine". Author Yuri Butusov described in details the arrest of five Russian intelligence officers by Ukrainian authorities after subversive operations against Ukraine held both in Ukraine and Transnistria with the participation of Russia-controlled Transnistrian intelligence services. The writer wonders how does this subversive activity of Russian intelligence services match with the peacekeeping mission declared by the Kremlin authorities and what kind of secret objects in Transnistria do the Russian authorities speak about after admitting that they held special actions in the region. Given this incident, one may wonder if the Russian authorities will keep insisting on their peacekeeping mission in Transnistria or will choose other propaganda-making methods to justify their military presence in the Republic of Moldova.
1. European integration
Conclusions by EU Education, Youth and Culture Council
The European Union’s Education, Youth and Culture Council (EYC) held a sitting in Brussels on February 15 and adopted the Council Conclusions concerning the further deepening of the EU-Moldova Dialogue on Human Rights. The Council noted that the objectives of the Human Rights Dialogue with the Republic of Moldova are: 1) to raise human rights issues, including individual cases, in the Republic of Moldova and in the European Union in a more in-depth manner; 2) to enhance dialogue on human rights topics in multilateral fora.
The Human Rights Dialogue should be held at least once a year, with meetings held, in principle, alternately in the Republic of Moldova and in the European Union, it will integrate a civil society component and, on an ad hoc basis, include exchanges with relevant international and regional organisations such as the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
New European Commission elected
The European Parliament elected on February 9 a new European Commission by 488 votes to 137, with 72 abstentions. Jose Manuel Barroso will run the Commission for a second mandate. Stefan Fule from the Czech Republic was elected Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy; he welcomed the pro-European orientation of the Moldovan Government while addressing the European Parliament.
EU Strategy for the Danube Region kicks off
On February 2 the European Commission organised the first series of consultation meetings on the development of the EU Strategy for the Danube region. The conference included four workshops on:
- Improvement of connectivity and communication systems (inside and outside the Danube region);
- Environment, water and risk prevention;
- Socio-economic, human and institutional development;
The consultation process will continue until June 2010 both online on the European Commission website, and further events planned in Hungary (on February 26), Austria and Slovakia (April), Bulgaria (May), Romania (June). The Commission intends to propose an action plan and a governance system in December 2010.
First sitting of the State Commission for European Integration in 2010
The new State Commission for European Integration convened in the first sitting on February 12. It debated the following issue:
- The results of actions aimed to promote Moldova’s European integration process in 2009 and priorities for 2010;
The following priorities for 2010 were set: – getting the EU support for the European integration of Moldova, inclusively by deepening the dialogue with Spain, Belgium and Hungary; -
starting negotiations to open a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and liberalise the visa requirements; – involving Moldova into the work of the 4 cooperation platforms of the Eastern Partnership; – drafting a plan on harmonisation of Moldovan legislation with the acquis communitaire (under the Twinning Project); – finding possibilities to get financial assistance for Moldova (the meeting of the advising group of donors for Moldova set for March 24).
- Opening a dialogue to liberalise the visa requirements, develop the biometrical strategy for Moldova;
- Organising the negotiation of the Moldova-EU Association Agreement;
- Preparing Moldovan institutions to open the institutional consolidation process with the view to negotiate the Association Agreement.
2. Bilateral cooperation
Republic of Moldova – Ukraine
Prime Minister Vlad Filat met his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko on February 1 and discussed problematic issues relating to bilateral relations. In particular, Vlad Filat asked the Ukrainian prime minister to definitively remove Moldova from the list of high migration risk countries, whose citizens should provide a confirmation of their financial condition while entering Ukraine (this requirement was temporarily ceased but not cancelled for Moldova). Another issue tackled by the two premiers was the electricity import from Ukraine. The electricity import from Ukraine was ceased on January 1, 2009 in connection with price-related divergences. As well, the sides tackled the Transnistrian problem, welcoming progresses in demarking the common border, which if successfully achieved, would provide new prospects to both countries in negotiating a liberalised visa regime with the EU.
The parties signed two documents during the meeting: the Protocol between the Government of Moldova and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on modifying the Agreement between Moldovan and Ukrainian Governments on mutual recognition of the rights and regulation of property relations from 11 August 1994; the Agreement between the Moldovan Government and the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers on cooperation in the youth policy area.
Republic of Moldova – Russia
The Moldovan-Russian intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation held a sitting in Chisinau during February 4–5, after almost four years. According to a press release by the Ministry of Economy, the meeting tackled 10 topics relating to key aspects of commercial-economic cooperation, as well as issues relating to cooperation in agro-industrial complex, thermal energy, industry and transport, labour migration and humanitarian area. The results of the meeting are:
- Russia confirmed the decision to provide the 150-million-dollar credit to Moldova, but on the basis of infrastructure projects by Moldova;
- Experts from both countries will work out a debt restructuring plan for "Moldovagaz" towards Russian companies "Gazprom" and "Factoring-Finance";
- Russia will assist Moldova to attend the 17th International Exhibition "Prodexpo" scheduled for February 8–12, 2010 in Moscow, which will include the Moldovan Wine Days;
- Actions will be implemented to facilitate and diversify spirits exports to Russia;
- Negotiations aimed to sign the Cooperation Programme between Moldovan and Russian Governments for 2009–2020 will go on.
3. Multilateral cooperation
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
The Court pronounced on February 2 the decision on Christian Democratic People’s Party (no. 2) vs. Moldova. The Court indicated violation of the right to assembly (with reference to a January 25, 2004 protest demonstration) and granted 3,000 Euro to PPCD in non-pecuniary damage and 1,000 Euro in costs and expenses.
Visit by Venice Commission delegation
A delegation from the Venice Commission led by Gianni Buquicchio, president of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), was on a working visit to Chisinau on February 10, giving green light to an invitation by interim President Mihai Ghimpu to discuss procedural aspects of the constitutional reform.
During the visit, the European official confirmed the readiness of the Venice Commission to provide Moldovan authorities with the assistance needed to reform/modify the Constitution. After meeting leaders of political parties, the parliamentary commission for parliamentary reform, Gianni Buquicchio stated that the decision to integrally reform the Constitution is headlong and noted that just Article 78 of Constitution on the election of chief of state should be modified now to overcome the institutional crisis. As well, in accordance with constitutional regulations in effect, the Parliament should be dissolved and early elections should be held. Interim President Mihai Ghimpu replied that the Alliance for European Integration is sure that early elections would be inefficient and seeks legal ways to avoid elections.