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The Visit of the Council of Europe Secretary General in the Republic of Moldova

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January 19, 2005
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The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CE) Terry Davis visited the Republic of Moldova (RM) on the 15–17 January. Terry Davis met the leadership of the country, members of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), leaders of political parties, representatives of the media and NGOs. The purpose of the visit was to “learn about the pre-election situation in the country”.

A few things about it have drawn attention: Terry Davis said he came to Chisinau on the invitation of the leadership of the country and of the political parties; he also said that the parliamentary elections due to take place on the 6th of March this year are the first elections of this kind in 2005 in the area of the Council of Europe, and therefore it will be in the limelight of the European institutions; the visit took place in weekend.

The observations above prove the fact that there are serious concerns on the electoral context in the Republic of Moldova. Evidently, the leadership of the country and the political parties had invited the CE Secretary General separately. The exact sequence of events is not known, however, one could argue that concerns were signalled first and only afterwards the visit was organized through diplomatic arrangements.

The Moldovan Authorities assured Terry Davis that it is not in their interest to rig the elections and that they welcome international observers.

During the meeting of the CE Secretary General with members of the Central Electoral Commission issues were discussed such as the preparation of voter lists, ensuring the right to vote for students who study in localities others than their places of residence, of the residents of Transnistria and of the Moldovan national who are working abroad.

The Leaders of the main political parties and formations involved in the election process informed the Secretary General about what they consider abuses on the part of the government. The leader of the alliance ’Blocul Moldova Democrata’ (BMD), Serafim Urechean, mentioned some violations committed by the ruling party, the Central Electoral Commission, the central administration. Urechean especially mentioned actions of intimidation by the law enforcement which are present at all the public events organized by BMD.

The leader of the Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party (PPCD), Iurie Rosca, spoke about “the illegalities done by the ruling party in the very start of the election campaign”, meaning the fact that the majority faction in the parliament ignored the Regulation of the Parliament regarding the legislative initiative on establishing the date of elections, that they also ignored the legal provisions regarding the coming into force of normative acts, the refusal of the Constitutional Court to examine the notifications of the PPCD faction regarding the breaching of constitutional provisions when the Parliament adopted the decision setting the date of the elections.

The leaders of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) informed the Secretary General about the impediments of access to justice in electoral issues, as well as the shortcomings of the electoral legislation.

During the meetings with NGO representatives, the Secretary General was briefed about the monitoring of the election process, the frequency of monitoring reports and their conclusions.

The Secretary General of the CE participated in a talk-show with representatives of the media in the RM, hosted by the TV program Vector European. He said that in Great Britain, the country he comes from, he cannot tell the political preferences of the journalists who work for the public media because they cover the political events in a professional and unbiased manner. He called on Moldovan journalists to do the same. He was probably unaware that it was the fourth time in one year when they were urged to do this same thing: in March 2004, on the occasion when OSCE mission and the CE launched the “guidelines” for the coverage of events on public media channels; in July 2004 when the head of the state came up with the initiative to safeguard the democratic processes; in December 2004 when the president addressed the Public Company “Teleradio-Moldova” demanding it not to cover so extensively the achievements of the government. Perhaps this tactful allusion of the Secretary General was causes by the fact that he had been told that the “Teledadio-Moldova” journalists had on the very first day of his visit informed the people that he already had a “good impression about Moldova”. At the end of Terry Davis’ visit the governmental newspapers wrote: “The initiatives and actions of Moldovan authorities to organize free and fair elections are highly appraised and supported by the European institutions.”

The opposition press was obviously more cautious in quoting the European official, highlighting his statement — “I repeat, I shall not take the side of any of the parties involved in the election campaign. I came to Chisinau to make sure that free and fair elections are ensured to the people of RM.”

A faulty start of the election campaign Final stage of the electoral campaign