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Is a social pact possible in the Republic of Moldova?

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March 27, 2002
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In an interview offered to the Nezavisimaia Moldova governmental newspaper on March 15, President Vladimir Voronin pointed that the Republic of Moldova “lacks efficient democratic mechanisms, allowing a permanent dialog with the society”. In order to initiate the dialog the President held meetings with journalists, trade unions, NGOs, ethnic minorities, etc, with whom “he should effectuate a Social Pact”. The President views the social pact as the first step towards “building civil society”, which in its turn would ensure citizens consensus on a certain “ethic-moral” order.

On March 20, Moldova Suverana and Nezavisimaia Moldova governmental newspapers published the Appeal of the President Voronin: “On the Social Pact”. Various non-governmental organizations, trade unions, etc praised the President’s initiative, all the same it was viewed with suspicion. Firstly, during his one year governing the President was very prolific in launching various initiatives, which proved to be unfinished (such as fighting corruption, recovery of the economy real sector, settling Transdnistrian conflict, edifying a Moldovan nation, etc). Secondly, from the very beginning the President made clear that he won’t dialogue with other political parties, whose leaders he views as “failed politicians”. Though, political parties are the ones involved in the political conflict unfolding in the Republic of Moldova. And last but not least, presidential message points the need to dialogue only with the so-called “healthy forces”. This “healthy forces” phrase raises a series of questions. As political parties and non-partisan organizations are legal entities registered by the Ministry of Justice in compliance with the constitutional right to free association, who may assume the right to decide which of them are “healthy” and which aren’t? What are the criteria for selecting “health forces”? Probably, the President intended to let citizens themselves decide which are the unhealthy forces. He just pointed what are in his opinion the destabilizing factors for the Republic of Moldova: geopolitical interests of other states; poor economic situation; territorial disintegration of the Republic of Moldova; Western and Eastern unionism; and the gap between public officers and society. It seems that the major obstacle in eliminating those destabilizing factors is the Communist Party itself, headed by President Voronin, rather than the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition.

Obviously the Communist Party strives to prove the contrary. Communist Party leaders continuously accuse Romania for “interfering in the Republic of Moldova affairs” in order to undermine the Republic of Moldova statehood. According to the Moldovan officials Romania interferes by allowing Moldovan young people to study in Romania, consequently they are “more indoctrinated than educated”, as well as by supporting Bessarabian Church. Though, Romania on every occasion reiterates that it recognizes the independence of the Republic of Moldova and is ready to support Moldova in its efforts to joint the European Union in the future. Out of all domestic political parties, the Christian Democratic Peoples’ Party (CDPP) is the only one accused of undermining Republic of Moldova statehood on the grounds that for the last decade it has advocated unification of the Republic of Moldova and Romania. It is known for a fact that the rating of the CDPP has never exceeded 10%. Also, during the VI-th Congress held on December 11, 1999, CDPP adopted a new political program whose major goals are “achieving national unity based on Christian morality” and “Republic of Moldova adhesion to the European Union in the foreseeable future”. It seems there are no grounds for political confrontations. Firstly, after the parliamentary elections of February 25, 2001 the Communist Party holds the constitutional majority — 71% seats in Parliament. Secondly, the Government voted by the Communists adopted in January the “Strategy for the Republic of Moldova development in the mid-term future”, which also provides establishing a favorable environment for the Republic of Moldova joining EU. What is then the reason for destabilizing the political situation in the country?

Opposition parties claim that the Communist Party is a revanchist political party exploiting people’s nostalgia for a secure life in electoral campaigns, but unable to modernize the society. According to them this is the major destabilization factor. The current political situation when Communists chase “unhealthy forces” is a screen hiding the governors’ political and economic incompetence. As for destabilizing factors mentioned by President Voronin, the opposition points that:

  1. Only one country has openly declared that it has geopolitical interests in this region (i.e. Russia viewed by the Communist Party as the main strategic partner of the Republic of Moldova);
  2. Tiraspol separatist leaders justify the existence of the unconstitutional breakaway separatist region to the left of Dniester by the need to represent Russia’s interests in the Balkans (according to them Transdnistria a Russian land);
  3. Poor economic situation of the Republic of Moldova is due to the reluctance of the Communist Party and its strategic ally, Democratic Agrarian Party, which governed between 1992 and 1998, to promote economic reforms;
  4. It is a nonsense to accuse a political party accounting only for 10% of the seats in Parliament of undermining Republic of Moldova statehood, when the governing party itself has the following provision in its political program adopted in April 2001: “The Communist Party is the full rights member of the Union of the Communist Parties and views its consolidation as a binding political condition for the reconstruction on a voluntary and renewed basis of the Federation of the Sovereign Republics having equal rights”, i.e. URSS;
  5. And finally the instability generated by the split between the governors and society may be overcome only if the governing party manifests political will.

Given the above said, there are a series of problems awaiting resolution before a “Social Pact” may be achieved. First of all, the credibility of the governing party should be restored, as there is a huge difference between their declarations and actions, and during their one-year governing they made a series of mistakes which triggered the current crisis in Moldova.

At his meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations, on March 22 President Voronin admitted that he wasn’t aware of the existence of a permanent framework for discussions between NGOs and public authorities. Such a framework is provided during National NGO Forum, conducted periodically once in two years since 1997, and where public authorities are permanently invited. During the three editions of the NGO Forum the latter were present only with greeting messages. It is not a surprise then, that under those circumstances any dialogue is blocked. It seems that the same holds true for trade unions, religious organizations, and political parties. Hearings at the European Court of Human Rights, the last Congress of the Businessmen, critics voiced by the political parties, trade unions’ protests — all those events are another illustration to the above said.

In his appeal, Voronin is concerned about the lack of “efficient democratic mechanisms, allowing a permanent dialogued with the society”. Journalists claim that a public audiovisual institution broadcasting on the entire territory of the country could be the best mechanism in this respect. Some high-rank officials accused TV journalists on strike of partisanship and lack of professionalism. Nevertheless the entire society witnessed how since the victory of the Communist Party, the National TV Station (funded from the state budget) has been broadcasting ideology reports about pioneer and comsomol organizations, etc and ignored to cover topical issues. That is why, freeing National TV and Radios Stations from censure and ideology as demanded by journalists on strike, as well as turning “Teleradio Moldova” State Company into a real public audiovisual institution, would prove authorities’ willingness to reopen the dialogue with the society.

Political Parties, on the other hand, claim that it is the Communist Party doctrine (Marxism — Leninism) which blocks the dialogue, as it runs counter to the civil society values: pluralism of ideas, competition of values, etc. Given the difference between the values shared by the Communist Party and civil society, a social dialogue might have a chance if the mediator, i.e. the President of the country, will give up the position of Chairman of the Communist Party. Though, the President indicated that he wouldn’t do this. Under those circumstances, the President may want to initiate a reform of the party he is heading, turning it into a social-democratic orientation, as was recommended by the writer Ion Drutsa.

Analysts claim that the current political crisis in the Republic of Moldova was triggered by the Communists’ decision to make use of the constitutional majority they hold and try to “decree the truth” with regard to very sensitive issues such as language and history. They claim that citizens’ right to ethnic self-identification prevails in societies split on linguistic criteria, such as the Moldovan society.

And finally, another obstacle to social dialogue is the fact that President Voronin sees strengthening Republic of Moldova’s independence in fostering “state patriotism”. The notion of “state patriotism” introduces a deliberate confusion of the “Motherland” and “state” and it is a very strange one. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the example of Alexandr Soljenitsin, whom President Voronin greatly respects. Indeed, one could hardly question Mr. Soljenitsin patriotism, despite the fact that he questioned the essence of a Communist state, for which he was expelled from the country.

Analysts who doubt the success of a Social Pact, point out that economic situation of the Republic of Moldova and authorities’ tolerance toward their opponents’ opinions are the major factors, which could contribute to the strengthening of the Republic of Moldova statehood. An evidence of progresses in this respect would be the best step in reopening a dialogue between the power and society.

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