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Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year IX, issue 162, February 1–14, 2011
Activity of Public Institutions
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Activity of Public Institutions
Events of major importance
Unannounced visit to Moscow
On February 7, Marian Lupu, Speaker of Moldovan Parliament, paid a working visit to Moscow, where he had a short meeting with Boris Gryzlov, Speaker of Russian State Duma. Official information about these discussions and their results were not disseminated, and upon return to Moldova the Speaker told that discussions were constructive and tackled various aspects, including the stirring up of inter-parliamentary dialogue.
Parliamentary session began with protests by opposition
On the first day of Parliamentary session on February 10, 2011, a group of supporters of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) have protested in front of the Republican Palace, where the parliamentary sittings are held. The protests were also attended by the PCRM MPs. The main problem addressed by the protesters was the intention to ban the communist symbols, which would have materialized in a draft decision positively agreed upon by parliamentary committees. Within the speeches, those intentions have been qualified as discriminatory and dictatorial.
Parliament took note of the resignation of 12 MPs, who mostly are members of the Government invested on January 14, 2011.
By decision of Parliament the new composition of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) was confirmed, which included the representatives of the interim President and of parliamentary parties, as follows:
- Andrei Volentir (nominated by interim President);
- Iurie Ciocan (nominated by PLDM);
- Vasile Gafton (PLDM);
- Stefan Creanga (PLDM);
- Stefan Uritu (PL);
- Svetlana Gutu (PDM);
- Vadim Motarschi (PCRM);
- Igor Vremea (PCRM);
- Alexandru Simionov (PCRM).
The persons appointed to CEC have to suspend their political affiliation (membership).
Decision to amend the Parliamentary Decision on holidays and free days. It introduces a new day of remembrance – "Day to Remember the soldiers who died in the war in Afghanistan (February 15)". The decision was motivated by address from the Union of Afghan War Veterans and is based on the fact that on 1 February 15, 1989 the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan has completed.
Law amending the Law on Identity Documents within the national passport system. According to the amendments, until December 31, 2011 citizens living abroad will be issued passports that do not contain biometric data, based on applications filed with diplomatic missions and consular offices of the Republic of Moldova.
Law on ratification of the Financing Agreement between Republic of Moldova and European Investment Bank. Funding is contracted for a Drinking Water Supply Services Development Program, which provides for building rural aqueducts in six districts: Floresti, Soroca, Hincesti, Ciadir-Lunga, Orhei and Leova. The contracted amount is 30 million euros, of which 20 millions are provided as grant. The repayment term is 25 years with a grace period of five years and an interest rate of 0.1 percent annually.
Law on amending certain laws (on Parliament’s functioning and structure). The adopted document provides for amending the Parliamentary Rules of Procedures, the legislation on civil service and public service, in order to regulate the activity of the Parliamentary Secretariat and the relevant competences. This document also provides for introduction of the "MP assistant". The draft was voted only by parliamentary majority, and the opposition assessed these introduced innovations as a burden for the budget.
ADEPT Note: The experts noted that the provisions on MP assistants were not sufficiently grounded and prepared, and, at the same time, the criteria were not approved for those who potentially shall hold those positions: • status within public service (public position or assimilated one to the position of dignitary’s cabinet); • workers’ rights and duties; • selection criteria (examination, competition); • compliance requirements (criminal record, higher education, absence of prohibitions); • avoidance of the conflicts of interests (employment of relatives), etc.
PCRM faction reads out some statements on:
- Constitutional Court decision on the notification for interpretation of the provisions of Article 90 of Moldovan Constitution. The statement condemns that decision and evasion from responding about the timeline for presidential elections. The Constitutional Court is accused of "political commitment, venality and political corruption" and calls for its resignation en masse;
- intention to condemn and prohibit the communist symbols "hammer and sickle", accusing in this regard the actions of the Democratic Party.
Events of major importance
Visit to Brussels
On 9–10 February, a governmental delegation, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Filat, paid a working visit to Brussels, Belgium. The visit included meetings with:
- Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President;
- Guenther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy;
- Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy;
- Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament;
- Graham Watson, rapporteur for Moldova-EU Association Agreement on behalf of the European Parliament;
- Joseph Daul, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament;
- Adrian Severin, deputy Chairman of the S&D Group in the European Parliament;
- Moldovan diaspora representatives living and working in Belgium.
Statement on the case of illegal conviction of Ilie CAZAC
Moldovan Government considers that decision on sentencing Ilie Cazaz is illegal and ungrounded. It qualifies it challenging one for the fundamental human rights and in contradiction with the confidence-building spirit and measures between the two sides of Nistru. It condemns the behavior of Tiraspol administration, who dealt the case with violation of the right to qualitative legal assistance and right to a fair trail. It appeals to a convincing intervention by mediators and observers, as well as from international bodies, and the Government will further undertake all possible efforts for releasing Ilie Cazac and Ernest Vardanean, who also was previously illegally convicted by Tiraspol.
Viorel Soltan is appointed as Deputy Minister of Health, replacing Octavian Grama, who previously exercised this position.
Decision on adoption of the Governmental Plan of Activity for the first quarter of 2011. The document contains several sections:
- development and adoption of policy documents;
- legislative drafting and adoption of normative acts;
- hearings and verification of the implementation of previous decisions.
Decision on temporary suspension of grain exports. The decision is taken to ensure food security, since lately the rhythm of food wheat exports tripled, jeopardizing the provision of population with bread.
Decisions for approval of some regulations:
- changes in Regulation on the procurement of medicines and other medical products for the needs of healthcare system;
- changes in Regulation on drug pricing and other pharmaceuticals and cosmeceuticals.
Decisions on approving some draft laws:
- the ratification of Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to automatic procession of personal data, regarding supervisory authorities and trans-border data flow;
- amending the law on education (supporting the participation of students’ representatives in the composition of the governing bodies of higher educational institutions).
Decision on setting out the labour immigration quota. In accordance with provisions of the Law on Labour Migration, the Government decided to approve the 2011 labour immigration quota in Moldova for 1300 persons.
Disposition on establishing a working group on the reorganization of CCECC. According to the document issued personally by the Prime Minister, in order to implement provisions of the Governmental Programme "European Integration: Freedom, Democracy, Welfare" concerning the reorganization of the Centre for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption, a Working Group is created that is headed by the Minister of Justice. The working group also includes the Secretary General of Government, CCECC Director, Deputy Minister of Economy, representatives of SCM, prosecution service and MIA. Until February 24, the Working Group should provide the Government with proposals on the transfer of CCECC powers that don’t concern the field of fighting corruption to other specialized structures, as well as with the concept of new functional and institutional framework of CCECC, taking into account the need to maintain under its competences the responsibility to fight corruption.
ADEPT Note: It is interesting to note that although it will work just for two weeks and is composed of persons recently appointed (reconfirmed) in positions, the disposition uses a standard formula, according to which: "in case of dismissal of members of the Working Group from their positions, their responsibilities within the Group shall be exercised by persons newly-appointed for these positions without issuing any other disposition of Government".
Continues concern for flood victims
The meeting of the National Commission on liquidation of flood consequences approached the issue of completing the construction of houses and ensuring the proper living conditions for victims in villages Cotul Morii, Nemteni and Obileni of Hancesti district. The meeting also considered the issues related to: construction of engineering infrastructure and socio-cultural objects, ensuring the process of reviewing and reconfirming the list of allocating the houses in the village Cotul Morii, consolidation and change of use of the land-fields on which the houses and roads are built. According to provided information, out of the total of 706 houses, which are to be built by various investors, 241 houses were given in use, in 63 houses the beneficiaries already live. It is expected to give in commission in March 61 houses, and in April – 365 houses. All roads on construction sites have been paved to 100%. In areas where new houses were built, it is planned to construct engineering infrastructure and socio-cultural objects, and in order to complete these constructions 273.6 million lei will be allocated. The Prime Minister called for urgent removal of all impediments in the preparation of documents for changing the land use where the living houses are constructed, as well as for correct allocation of houses to beneficiaries.
Review meeting at MIA
Prime Minister attended the annual review meeting of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which analyzed the police activity, the level of fighting the crime and the rights and freedoms of citizens. According to the report of the Minister of Internal Affairs, the situation within the institution is unsatisfactory: ministry is still an institution of police rather than of internal affairs administration; bureaucracy and outdated mindset of some employees persist; some MIA bodies overlap in their activity; the image of police in society is weak. In the next period the management staff of the ministry will be completely reformed and a new structure of MAI will be developed. In his address, Prime Minister criticized the work of traffic police, requested explanations of non-enforcement of planned tasks and who are those who are guilty of this. Vlad Filat mentioned, in particular, that on the quality of reforms initiated in MIA largely depends the way to European integration and the obtaining of liberalized visa regime with the European Union. Filat urged the MIA leadership to take drastic measures in the fight against corruption among police officers.
Meeting of the National Commission for e-Transformation
Over 80 percent of Moldovan citizens use mobile phones and over 30 percent of the population has access to Internet. It is planned that by the year 2020 most of public services for citizens will be digitized, and the use of public services by citizens shall be higher than 50 percent, and 90 percent of open government data shall be available online. Prime Minister Vlad Filat stressed the need to coordinate and conduct some joint actions of all governmental structures in the e-Transformation process.
Reactions to PCRM statement
Spokesperson of the Prime Minister, Igor Volnitchi, held a media briefing following the recent public statements by the representatives of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) that brought accusations to Government and urged it. Volnitchi assesses the "constructivism" and alleged desire to help solve social problems, made public by the Communists as a hypocritical gesture, a defiance of common sense and a mockery to citizens, because the current state of Moldova is a direct result of Communists’ actions. In this context, several arguments have been raised, including the comparison of indicators from the last period of communist governance and the first period of democratic governance. Increasing prices is a direct result of PCRM actions, who signed with the Russian Concern Gazprom a protocol that provides for increase of prices on natural gas, including in 2011. A document developed by PCRM in 2009 provided for: dismissal of five thousand teachers; obliging teachers to work additional two hours for free; ceasing granting preferential loans; stopping indexing the public deposits in "Banca de Economii" etc.
Interim President gave the first state awards:
- the Order of Honour was awarded to Kalman Mizsei, EU Special Representative for Moldova, in connection with the termination of his mandate;
- the honorary title People’s Artist was awarded to Mr. Petru Gozun, President of Moldovan Sport Dance Federation and the Sport Dance Club "Codreanca", former PCRM MP.
In accordance with provisions of the Electoral Code, by decree of the interim President Mr. Andrei Volentir was appointed as member of the Central Electoral Commission. Previously Andrei Volentir was representative of the Democratic Party of Moldova in the Central Electoral Commission.
Prices and inflation
The price-rising wave further quickens…
Statistics show that consumer price index (CPI) in January 2011 compared to December 2010 was 101.1% and to January 2010 – 106.7%.So, in January we had an inflation rate of 1.1%. The increase of average consumer prices in January 2011 compared to December 2010 was caused by increase of food prices by 2.5% (which actually increased the most), non-food by 0.4% and tariffs for public services by 0.3%. The growth of food prices was most significant for: potatoes – by about 15%RO, a trend which otherwise is outlined for February too. Prices also increased for a range of products such as fresh vegetables – by about 9% (including: beetroot – by 21%, carrot – by 14.4%, onion – by 12.5%, cabbage – by 8.8%), sugar – by more than 5% and fresh fruits – by about 5% (including apples – by 11%). During the reporting period the prices has increased for: fuel – by more than 3%, and tariffs for providing services to the population by about 2%.
Apparently, wages have increased…
According to official statistics, in 2010 employees in the banking sector got the highest average monthly salary – MDL 6365 and in December 2009 they even had an average salary of 8760 lei. In contrast, employees of pisciculture had an average salary of 1621 lei; farmers and foresters – 1645 lei. NBS data show that employees of the electro-hitting, gas and water supply had last year an average wage of 4841 lei, while those in wholesale and retail – 2718 lei. Civil servants from public administration had the average wages of about 3277 lei, and employees in education – 2358 lei. In the field of health and social assistance – 2883 lei. Employees in culture, sport and recreation had an average salary of 2113 lei.
Other types of activity and average monthly wages:
- Industry: 3438 lei;
- Extracting industry: 3321 lei;
- Manufacturing: 3096 lei;
- Construction: 3227 lei;
- Hotel and restaurants: 2391 lei;
- Transport and communications: 3914 lei;
- Real estate: 3625 lei.
Average monthly nominal wage of an employee of the national economy was 2972 lei (about 247 USD) and increased compared to similar period of 2009 by slightly more than 8%. In the budgetary field, the average wage was about 2550 lei and increased compared to the same period of last year by 6%, in real sector of economy – 3213 lei and increased by 9% compared to similar period of 2009.
Figure 1. Average wages in some sectors of activity, in % of national average (2010)
Source: NBS, www.statistica.md
Exports and imports are growing…
Moldovan exports in 2010 totaled just over $ 1.582 billion, higher than the volume achieved in 2009 by about 23%. Exports to EU-27 amounted approximately USD 747 million (with about 12% more than in 2009), holding a share of over 47% in total exports (about 52% in 2009).CIS countries were present in Moldova’s exports, with a share of over 39% (in 2009 – 38%), corresponding to a value of over USD 624 million. Exports to these countries have increased by over 27% compared with 2009. Exports of food products constituted over 26% of total exports, followed by exports of machinery and transport equipment and miscellaneous manufactured articles with a share of 40% of total exports. Exports of beverages and tobacco scored third, having a 13% share in total exports. In this section of goods the dominant is the exports of alcoholic and soft beverages (about 87% of the total section and over 11% of total exports). However, imports in 2010 totaled over USD 3.855 billion, higher than the volume achieved in 2009 with over 17%. Imports from EU countries (EU-27) amounted to 1.704 billion dollars (about 20% more than in 2009) with a share of over 44% in total imports (over 43% in 2009).Imports of goods from CIS countries were worth about U.S. 1.257 billion (over 10% higher than in 2009), equivalent to over 32% share in total imports (about 35% in 2009). Imports of machinery and transport equipment had a market share of about 21% of total imports. Imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and derived materials have held more than 20% of total imports. In this section of goods the oil and oil products represent 54% of the total section and 11% of total imports, and gas and industrial products from natural gas 43% and about 9% accordingly. Imports of manufactured goods classified mainly by raw material have held a share of over 19% in total imports, the chemicals and derivatives accounted to 13.5% of total imports. Imports of food products and live animals had a share of over 10% of total imports. Significant gap in the evolution of exports and imports resulted in 2010 in the accumulation of a trade balance deficit amounting to over 2.273 billion dollars, with 282 million dollars (by over 14%) higher than that registered in 2009.With the European Union countries (EU-27) the trade balance ended with a deficit of about USD 958 million (in 2009 – about 753 million dollars), while with the CIS countries – about USD 633 million (in 2009 – over 651 million USD).
Efforts of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office to resume negotiations in "5+2" format
On 9–11 February 2011, Foreign Minister of Lithuania, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Audronius Azubalis, visited Moldova. During the visit he met with representatives of Tiraspol administration and Chisinau authorities with the aim to prepare for the consultations in "5+2" format in Vienna, scheduled for 14–15 February, to be followed by the resumption of formal negotiations in that format. Visit to the Republic of Moldova was preceded by visits to Moscow and Kiev, where the OSCE Chairman-in-Office got convinced that "the situation is not quite easy", but not so bad either, so that to give up efforts to resume formal negotiations in "5+2" format. So far, there is no clear agenda for eventual negotiations. In this context the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova, Iurie Leanca, said that Moldova’s position in negotiations remains the same – to develop a special status for Transnistria within Moldova so that to observe the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and the withdrawal of Russian weapons from the area.
Transnistrian administration considers it premature to resume negotiations
After meeting on 9 February between the OSCE Chiarman-in-Office, Audronius Azubalis, and representatives of Tiraspol administration, the head of Transnistrian diplomacy, Vladimir Yastrebceak, said that resumption of official negotiations in "5+2" format is premature. Yastrebceak stressed that it’s useless to talk about the resumption of negotiations as long as the resolution of problems faced by Transnistrian enterprises is not ensured, and the mediators and international observers pretend to have forgotten about these issues, ignoring the position of Transnistria. According Yastrebceak it’s abnormal that Transnistrian economy is subject to restrictions and blocking measures, and the Transnistrian economic operators are forced to process the export customs documents in compliance with legal norms of the Republic of Moldova. This is because one cannot talk anymore about building "a common state" with the Republic of Moldova, as envisaged by the Kozak Memorandum, developed in 2003: "The situation has changed radically. Things have evolved and what was then possible does not coincide with our current tasks".
Consultations in Vienna in the "5+2" format
A round of consultations took place in "5+2" format on Transnistrian conflict resolution was held on 14–15 February 2011 in Vienna. Moldovan delegation was headed by Eugen Carpov, Deputy Prime Minister. The meeting tackled mainly the issues on confidence building between the conflicting parties, but also issues related to ensuring the freedom of movement, guarantees in the settlement process. A particular problem was the resumption of official negotiations in "5+2" format. Moldovan delegation drew attention of the representatives of mediators and observers to the problems related to free movement of persons and goods between the two banks of Nistru; the difficulties faced by students of Moldovan schools, teaching based on Latin alphabet, in Transnistria; the situation in Security Zone, etc. In this context, Moldovan delegation called for unconditional resumption of negotiations in "5+2" format. Transnistrian representatives noted that only the settlement of practical problems faced by the region, and not the political statements, can pave the way for resuming negotiations. From this point of view were examined the ways to enhance the activity of working groups to strengthen mutual trust. In particular, the attention has focused on launching the activity of working group on education and on intensifying actions to facilitate economic activity of enterprises in Transnistria. A special discussion was devoted to cases of conviction by Transnistrian bodies to long periods of detention of Moldovan citizens. In this context, Moldovan delegation requested the release of Ernest Vardanean sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment, and Ilie Cazac, sentenced to 14 years, both for "espionage in favor of Moldova". At the end of the meeting, participants agreed on the program of activities for the coming year. Despite the fact that the mediators and observers have noted the existence of necessary conditions for the resumption of official negotiations in "5+2", this subject will be discussed at the future meeting.
OSCE and EU delegation about the convictions of Moldovan citizens in Transnistria
OSCE Chairman in Office, Audronius Azubalis, said during his visit to Moldova that OSCE Chairmanship will continue to seek solutions for the case of Ilie Cazac, sentenced on February 9, 2011 by Transnistrian authorities under charges of treason. In this respect, the OSCE will also conduct through diplomatic channels actions regarding the case of Ernest Vardanian, who also was convicted several months ago for spying in favor of Moldova. In the same context, the EU Delegation in Moldova has evoked the need to respect human rights, in particular, the right to a fair process, as well as the rights of detainees. EU Delegation expressed its concern about the investigating circumstances of the case of Ilie Cazac, in particular the lack of transparency of the process and refusal to provide legal assistance at individual discretion, as well as the contact with family members.
Senator Richard Lugar: Washington should put pressure on Moscow…
Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, member of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Senate, published on 8 February 2011 a report entitled "Will Russia end Eastern Europe’s last frozen conflict", where he recommends the Washington administration to support the Republic of Moldova in the settlement of Transnistrian problem. According to recommendations of the report, the recent developments in Moldova and the attention paid to the situation in Transnistria by European leaders offer an opportunity for the U.S. to act similarly in order to resume negotiations on Transnistria and support Moldova’s pro-Western aspirations. In particular, the U.S. must:
- pay attention at the highest diplomatic level to the resumption of negotiations on the settlement of Transnistrian problems in basis of the efforts launched by governments of Germany and France. Experience suggests that the U.S. positions as leader in European security issues remain indispensable. A lasting settlement would strengthen political stability and economic growth in entire Moldova, would encourage rapprochement with Western institutions, would undermine the illegal trafficking of goods and people, ensure individual rights and freedoms in Transnistria; support the replacement of Russian peacekeeping mission with an international civilian mission;
- convince Russia that its assistance in the settlement of Transnistrian conflict and other frozen conflicts could serve as an evidence that the development of NATO-Russia relations can provide security in Eastern Europe and that relations in post-Soviet area are not a "zero sum" game;
- support the withdrawal of military presence and weapons from Moldova;
- further continue discussions on conventional arms control in Europe;
- repeal the Jackson-Vannik restrictions and improve bilateral trade relations;
- develop an U.S.-Moldova Partnership Charter;
- provide technical assistance to Moldovan government in institutional reform and economic growth;
- hold regular briefings for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the state of negotiations in the settlement of Transnistrian and other conflicts.
European Union will continue to support the Republic of Moldova
On February 9–10, the prim-minister Vlad Filat paid an official visit to Brussels where met several high-ranking European officials. The discussion agenda included the following subjects: Transnistrian conflict, export of wine products to European market, connection to the European energy market, domestic political processes related to the election of the chief of state, and the progress in negotiations on the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. According to the Government press office, Graham Watson, European Parliament’s rapporteur for the Moldova-EU Association Agreement declared during a meeting with the Moldovan prime-minister that the European Parliament welcomed the rebuilding of the Alliance for European Integration and assured of a further support of the Republic of Moldova. At the same time, the European officials urged the Moldovan political leaders to find a consensus to elect the chief of state and consequently, to overcome the political crisis.
On the other hand, prim-minister Vlad Filat asked the European officials to support the increase of Moldovan wine exports to the European market, a subject to be discussed in the European Parliament in the forthcoming future. The prime-minister asked also the EU support to the implementation of projects for diversifying energy resources of the Republic of Moldova.
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Romanian officials continue to support the European cause of the Republic of Moldova. In particular, on February 4, during the meeting of the European Council, focused on energy and innovation, the Romanian president Traian Basescu declared for the connection of the non-EU states, such as Serbia and Republic of Moldova to the European energy grid, while the single European energy market is being created.
Despite these advocacy efforts, the discussions on the signing of the Basic Treaty between Moldova and Romania are lagging. The states have not yet ratified the Treaty between Romania and the Republic of Moldova on the State Border Regime, signed in November 2010. According to Titus Corlatean, the Chairman of the Romanian Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, who headed the Romanian Senate’s delegation during a visit to Chisinau on February 14–16, the signing of the Basic Treaty between the Republic of Moldova and Romania represents a task of Governments and before signing the positions and aspirations of both parties should be considered. During the visit, Titus Corlatean made public the availability of the Romanian legislative to offer the Moldovan parliament its entire legislative base already harmonized with the acquis communautaire. Igor Corman, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy and European Integration of the Moldovan Parliament and Titus Corlatean decided also on setting up a joint Commission for European integration of the two parliaments and on launching, together with an EU-member state and with the European financial assistance, a Twinning project between the Romanian and Moldovan parliaments.
Studies, Analyses, Comments
Constitutional Court Decision: Yes for opportunities, No for solutions
On February 8, 2011 the Constitutional Court (CC) has decided to discontinue consideration of notification of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) on interpretation of Article 90 of the Constitution concerning the deadlines for setting the date for presidential elections