Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Political year 2009

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Igor Botan / December 30, 2009
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Who begins with farces, ends up with “broken heart”?..

As a rule, tragic events reverberate with farces. In this light, developments experienced by Moldova had a reverse succession in 2009. The year began with a farce but ended with a tragic finding — former president Vladimir Voronin and adherents of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) he leads had their “hearts broken” at the end of the year.

Hence, the first resounding and auspicating event of the political year 2009 was recorded on January 15, shortly after winter holidays. On that day, Prosecutor-General Valeriu Gurbulea and Deputy Interior Minister Valentin Zubic produced themselves as showmen, telling the vox populi that they allegedly hold evidence proving that an opposition leader, Serafim Urechean, planned to kill deputy speaker Iurie Rosca.

Planned for the eve of the official start of electoral campaign for parliamentary elections, the event concerned should probably shake the public opinion by introducing the opponents of the PCRM as inhuman, as well as silly, unable at least to hire a killer capable to do his mission well. But the “broken heart” of the killer did not resist under the burden of crime that he promised to accomplish, making him come home by the weeping cross, leaving a mea-culpa letter revealing the names of criminal commanders to Moldovan Pinkertons.

Up till then, almost all leaders of political parties with a rating of more than 2 percent had criminal charges on their names for alleged crimes: Serafim Urechean had 4 criminal cases on his name; Vlad Filat — 3; Dorin Chirtoaca — 3 etc., but none of them was shocking. Therefore, the authorities probably needed an innovating approach to shake the opposition. The campaign for parliamentary elections opened that way, aiming to ensure the triumph of the PCRM at all costs, so that the latter to not need the opposition’s support for building a new government.

But the irony of fate wanted the PCRM to be short of approximately two hundredths of percent of votes at the April 5 elections to get the 61st out of 101 seats needed to accomplish the renewal of the PCRM governing. The harassment and introduction of opposition leaders as inhuman and criminals by the PCRM propaganda made the opposition leaders decline any political arrangements with the PCRM for election of a chief of state. In consequence, early parliamentary elections were held on July 29, with the PCRM failing them and former opposition parties building the ruling Alliance for European Integration (AIE).

It is important to note that the two parliamentary electoral campaigns contributed decisively to resizing the political scene. The new political configuration is not stable at all, but has two new strong pillars — the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM). Both parties have very comfortable seats — on centre-right and on centre-left, and that’s why findings of surveys last autumn which revealed that these parties fuel their electoral basins on account of immediate neighbours from political scene did not surprise.

A key conclusion of the political year 2009 effective for political confrontations in 2010 is that the best strategy to win is to be honest, to respect rules of reason and legal norms. This is the only way to enjoy tactical and strategic victories. The PCRM example should teach all. This party won about 50 percent and 45 percent at the two elections in 2009, but none of political forces, members of other parties wanted to cooperate with the PCRM. So what is the good of such overwhelming victories? Is it for having your “heart broken” at the end?

Millennium challenges?..

The Republic of Moldova set an absolute record in the first year of the 3rd millennium — a communist party succeeded to the ruling, for the first time in the history of humanity, by winning free and fair elections, not through a coup d’etat. Year 2009 will be probably also marked in the annals of the 3rd millennium, as the Republic of Moldova has become the first country in the world whose citizens set on fire the Parliament and Presidency on the 8th anniversary of rule of communist leader Vladimir Voronin. This coincidence is quite sinister.

The results of the April 5 elections surprised many of those who expected the change. They could not imagine the PCRM winning a categorical score after the failure at the 2007 local elections. The way the electoral campaign developed and the trend of authorities to fabricate charges and plan political farces made opposition political leaders and many young people protest against alleged election frauds.

By the end of 2009 nobody is able to indicate any systematised and officialised documents to prove the election frauds on Election Day. However, thousands and tens of thousands of protesters who improvised the funerals of Moldovan democracy after elections were right to protest against administrative abuses and political farces staged by authorities to discredit the opposition and preserve the rule at all costs.

The enigma of the April 7 revolt was not explained and will not be cleared for a long time ahead. It was not made clear who made some peaceful demonstrators go ahead and storm the Presidency and Parliament buildings; who were the instigators; why the police were incapable to reply proportionally and appropriately with the exclusive purpose to discourage instigators; who and why did he order the youth hunt after the storming of the Presidency and Parliament buildings; why the state commission in charge with investigating the April 7 events did not fulfil its mission etc.

The lack of answers to these questions and the proved trend of authorities to fabricate political farces made many Moldovan citizens believe that the diverting of the April 7 peaceful protests was an attempt of some ruling circles to discredit the opposition and destroy it within a campaign such as “Let’s defend our Motherland!”. But the farce turned into a true tragedy. The Parliament and Presidency headquarters were really destroyed and hearts of those in charge with ensuring good governance and preventing the destruction of public estates were broken.

“Moldova Planet” did not disappear from the world map

Inventors of the musical “Moldova Planet” project did not even guess how successfully they reflect the domestic realities. Unfortunately, year 2009 made this project useless, so that distinguishing real from imaginary, invented events became almost impossible. How heavy is the manifesto-programme of the Greceanai Government focussed on preventing the disappearance of Moldova from the world map. But it happened that by the end of 2009 the PCRM was not ruling the country for already almost half a year and Moldova is still part of the world map?! Given these facts, any citizen of Moldova is right to wonder what for an eventual PCRM revenge, if Moldova is still part of the world map without being watched by this party? However, PCRM leaders still believe that the phobias they have intensively cultivated in society should challenge nervous or psychosis crises among people on the 2010 New Year’s Eve, when interim President Mihai Ghimpu, declared Romanian and unionist, address population!

Up till then, the twitches of PCRM were manifested through the insistent demand of dismissal of Mihai Ghimpu from office of Parliament speaker, and therefore, from post of acting President of the Republic of Moldova. But Mihai Ghimpu is the politician with aces. The first ace he used to defeat the PCRM is that while introducing himself as Romanian and unionist he says that his party is not unionist and does not have statute-based tasks in this respect. The move is strong because the unionist electorate is happy, too, as its representative runs two supreme state offices and the Republic of Moldova is still part of the world map as sovereign and independent state. Nothing unusual, as the PCRM itself proved that unionist Romanians do not endanger the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Moldova. Otherwise, Vladimir Voronin would not have nominated the leader of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD), a successor of the Popular Front of Moldova, as deputy prime minister in charge with coordinating the work of security services.

In general, Moldova does not face as many problems as acting President Mihai Ghimpu has aces in his hands to solve them. In this regard, it made no sense for the revenging propaganda machine of PCRM to introduce the acting President Mihai Ghimpu in a negative light. It alleged that CIS heads of state do not believe Ghimpu, as they did not give green light to his invitation to visit the Cricova cellars, or that he would endanger Moldova’s fate since he has no idea about the rating agency Fitch etc. Of course, Mihai Ghimpu would lose an image competition with former president Vladimir Voronin for the time being. For example, Mihai Ghimpu would unlikely dare to invite Vladimir Putin in Chisinau and further tell him that he changed his mind. Ghimpu would also lose to Voronin in terms of radicalism of decisions. In this respect, Voronin as leader of a communist party was courageous to declare the liberal revolution, but who would believe that Liberal Ghimpu is capable to declare a communist revolution? Another example — Voronin was ready to throw the Moldovan wine in the Dniester after the Russian Federation embargoed it, while Ghimpu was not able the least to serve the same wine to CIS leaders for free. Perhaps CIS heads of state did not give green light to invitation of acting President Mihai Ghimpu because they feared that Moldova does not have any wine after former president Voronin threatened to throw it all in the Dniester, or they thought that the wine is bad, as who would throw a good wine?

Ghimpu could compete with Voronin on an equal footing in high areas of arts, culture, and appreciation of merits of producers of moral and spiritual values. They even complete each other in these areas, like Russians say: два сопога — пара (two shoes — one pair)! Respectively, one is placed on the right, the other one on the left. The propaganda-making machine of PCRM and some malicious commentators accused Ghimpu of being insensible while approaching some sensitive issues such as revealing merits of people, of “awarding lots of orders and medals.” But this is a manifestation of the virtue of being generous. Former president Voronin gave in 2008 two pictures to his Russian counterpart being guided by his generosity. However, it was found out later that the pictures were fake, counterfeited, but it does not matter, since he wanted to be generous. However, after that story Moldovans defeated Chukchis in tops of Russian jokes, while Ukrainian president started calling Moldovans some of his talented employees.

Anyway, the life has become funnier since Mihai Ghimpu got the ruling in 2009. Even dreams of the innocent acting president make us smile, as he was so touched when he told journalists his wish for Santa Claus to bring him a cigarette which he would like to smoke and then stop smoking. Giving his joking nature, one may think that he would like a hashish and thank Santa later, decorating the Christmas Tree with the Order of the Republic for special contribution to overthrowing the communist regime and succeeding liberals to the governing. And he would be right, as the role of the Christmas Tree was important. Unfortunately, the epoch of coniferous populism ended once the change came in 2009, but it’s funny anyway to live on the “Moldova Planet”, though it’s harder to survive.

“Gapon-style” public life

A series of provocations inciting to ethnic and religious hatred etc., were observed in 2009. The No. 1 provocation was recorded on December 13, when a group of parishioners from a church of the Moldovan Metropolitan Church broke into a public place and removed the mosaic Menorah installed by the Jewish community from Moldova on Hanukkah Day.

Two issues raise concern in connection with this incident. The first is related to the fact that in a laic state an action authorised by local public administration and welcomed by central authorities through participation of a representative who runs the office of deputy foreign minister was contested in a defiant and disqualifiable manner by a group of Orthodox Christians, declared protectors of the ancestral Christian Orthodox religion against “base tykes who try to besmirch us…”.

The authorities had a prompt reaction. Minister of justice qualified this provocation appropriately, while Prime Minister Vlad Filat said later that the “protest was an ordinary provocation by a political party, which will be punished in front of law… As for the extremism, we will provide very clear evidence and actions by the end of this year.” One may suppose that the party concerned is the one which worked in 2009 under the slogan “Let’s defend our Mothereland”, as the Christian Orthodox parishioners called for “let’s defend our country” against enemies. Certainly, the provocation had several goals, with the group of protestors carrying Russian imperial flags from the 19th century and the slogan “Orthodox Church — mother of Romanian people” attributed to late poet Mihai Eminescu. The demonstrators were astonishingly selective, as Mihai Eminescu is also the writer of the poem Imparat si Proletar (King and Proletarian) and Viata (Life), in which he expressed his citizen attitude towards those who used his name during the protest concerned.

Second, the demonstrators who introduced themselves as Orthodox Christians justified their actions of profaning the Menorah because it would represent an unrecognised symbol and therefore inacceptable in a public place. But things here seem to be more than curious, as the Jewish Menorah is copied from the image of the candlestick that God commanded Moses in an imperative manner to manufacture. As for Jews, nobody else but the most genial apostle, Paul, told his opinion in the epistle to Romans: “Did God quit His people? Never! I am an Israelite, too, from the seed of Abraham, from the tribe of Benyamin. God did not quit His people he knew before.” Then who is authority in eyes of Moldovan Orthodox Christians? By the way, Saint Paul developed the idea of relationship between Israelites and other nations by using the metaphor about grafting of wide olive sprigs on stalk with divine roots and prevented those grafted to not be prideful. Who will explain the root and the grafted sprig to Christian Orthodox protestors?

The reaction of the Moldovan Metropolitan Church to manifestations of intolerance and hatred against Jews was briefed to some regrets and admonition over authorities, but there was a certain clemency over protestors: “We consider that this disagreeable incident in the capital downtown could be prevented if the Jewish Menorah would have been installed near the memorial of holocaust victims. We call this way upon municipal authorities to take into account the opinion of majority of people who share the Orthodox religion, while sanctioning and coordinating religious demonstrations. The Moldovan Metropolitan Church respects the sentiments and religious convictions of members of religious denominations which are legally registered in the Republic of Moldova and expects the same attitude from them.”

The context above reminds the fact that former president Voronin stated in July 2007 while addressing bishops and priests at Condrita monastery that “Jesus was the first communist.” In all unlikelihood, "the opinion of predominant majority which has the Christian Orthodox religion coincides with the opinion of Mr. Voronin, but none of devotional Orthodox Christians protested and corrected the “errant son”.

In such circumstances, given the very negative reactions of the embassy and Foreign Ministry of Israel to the December 13 incident, what kind of treatment should representatives of the Metropolitan Church of Moldova expect when they would like, for example, to organise pilgrimages in holy, Biblical places in Israel? Or what kind of treatment should an eventual metropolitan delegation expect while going to Jerusalem to bring the Holy Fire? Would the Israeli authorities be clement while issuing documents to delegations from the Metropolitan Church of Moldova, which was somehow reticent in condemning the barbarism and intolerance actions? Will parishioners be told that the new AIE authorities are to blame for eventual complications related to bringing the Holy Fire from Jerusalem? Are “the assault on Moldova” and “the assault on ancestral Orthodox religion” part of the same political project? — this is a legitimate question in this context.

Transnistrian settlement

The Transnistrian settlement stagnated in 2009, as expected in an electoral year. Even more, forecasts that Moldovan authorities will yield in exchange for the Russian electoral support have become true, as they had to sign on March 18 the Bravikha Declaration, in which the Moldovan authorities do not insist much on honouring of decisions of the 1999 Istanbul OSCE Summit concerning the withdrawal of the Russian military presence from the eastern region of the Republic of Moldova.

It is worth noting that in 2009, on the 8th anniversary of the PCRM rule, the Transnistrian settlement negotiation process was blocked for the third year in a row. In 2001, when the PCRM took over the ruling, the negotiation process was the least developing, and the electoral promise of the party was to settle the conflict definitively. It is true that the “5+2” format set in 2005 but frozen in March 2006 has a huge potential for settling the conflict, but the potential is due to the EU enlargement to borders of the Republic of Moldova.

After taking over the ruling, the AIE government decided on September 25, 2009 to dissolute the Reintegration Ministry, but the Transnistrian authorities did not care about this change. The Tiraspol foreign minister, Vladimir Yastrebchyak, said that the dissolution of the Reintegration Ministry is unimportant, as the Tiraspol authorities did never cooperate with this ministry. Contacts between the two conflicting parties have always been ensured by representatives of the Republic of Moldova and Transnistrian region. In 2009 the least an essential obstacle in the Transnistrian settlement process was removed — the personal animosity between former Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin and Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov. Further, the new governance is expected to restart the negotiation process in the “5+2” format, in order to identify solutions to approach positions and definitive resolution.

In all likelihood, the conflict will keep being frozen for a long time. First, solutions of quick progress are impossible in the crisis situation and incertitude faced by the Republic of Moldova, which will last the least 1–2 years, period when contacts and consultations in the “5+2” format shall be preserved and developed. Second, it is worth to note that the No.1 phenomenon related to Transnistrian region observed in 2009 is that the intensity of internal enmities among political forces from Transnistria exceeded the intensity of animosities between Chisinau and Tiraspol for the first time in the history of the Tiraspol regime. This fact carries a great potential for the Chisinau authorities, shall they know to persuade with measures aimed to strengthen the trust of common people from the left bank of the Dniester that the country unification is the best way to get rid of existing problems.

The process of stabilisation and recovery of Moldovan economy should be accompanied by a supported external activity to eventually try inserting the Transnistria file in the process of resetting the Russia-US relations and Russia-EU relations. This will probably be the best chance to settle the Transnistrian conflict, avoiding the useless antagonising of Russia.

Foreign policy

The foreign relations of the Republic of Moldova had a crucial impact on internal developments in 2009. First of all, European organisations and envoys helped maintaining a minimum of calm in internal political life after post-electoral events. A month after the April 7 events the Electoral Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the situation in Moldova, giving an appropriate qualification to developments, condemning the harassment campaign, grave violations of human rights and all other illegal actions committed by the Moldovan government after elections, and urged the Moldovan authorities to stop any illegal arrests and honour the assumed international commitments and obligations relating to democracy, rule of law and human rights. At present, at the end of 2009, it is interesting to note that the then chairman of the commission for EU-Moldova parliamentary cooperation, Grigore Petrenco, described the EP resolution as an insult against Moldovan people, as it brought grave and groundless accusations against constitutional authorities of the Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, another member of the PCRM faction then, first deputy speaker Vladimir Turcan said that the Resolution of the Council of Europe and that of the European Parliament on Moldova are basic documents for negotiations between authorities and opposition.

In general, the Moldova-EU relations entered an impasse after the April 7 events, when the Moldovan authorities brutally breached the human rights and opened the youth hunt, as the Chisinau authorities, particularly former president Vladimir Voronin publicly disagreed with the EU strategy of Eastern Partnership, calling it an attempt to build the second CIS. Even more, the Moldovan Government introduced visa requirements for Romania on April 9. The decision was illegal, as no other political or juridical act was adopted to establish and prove the danger posed by the visa-free entry in Moldova of citizens of an EU state such as Romania, while a special law abolished on January 1, 2007 the visa requirements for EU citizens etc.

However, the meeting of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) adopted the conclusions on the Republic of Moldova on June 15, which came to confirm the EU commitment for strengthening relations inclusively by adopting the negotiation mandate for the new EU-Moldova agreement to replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The GAERC conclusions confirmed the commitments to develop relations with Moldova on the basis of community values and principles inclusively within the Eastern Partnership and adopt the negotiation mandate for the new Moldova-EU agreement. The negotiations should begin after the Republic of Moldova would accept an equal treatment for all EU citizens, including Romania, and would respect the good neighbourhood principle.

Relations with EU were resumed just after the AIE took over the governing and cancelled the visa requirements for Romania. Moldova’s external relations have normalised by the end of 2009. This is certainly the merit of Premier Vlad Filat, Minister Iurie Leanca, other members of the AIE Government, who succeeded to attract much sympathy from foreign partners of Moldova after visiting other countries and receiving foreign officials in Chisinau — the IMF promise to fund Moldova, the US financial support to the Compact programme, the signing of the small border traffic agreement with Romania, normalisation of trade relations with Russia, development of contacts with Ukraine etc. However, the greatest success is the EU decision confirmed within the Cooperation Council in late December to begin on January 12, 2010 the negotiations on the Association Agreement with EU, which would foresee a deeper political cooperation and economic integration with the Republic of Moldova.

In general, the heterogeneous nature of AIE components has an appreciable potential for promoting a balanced foreign policy, so that the Republic of Moldova to be able to avoid useless political actions and statements on withdrawal from CIS, etc. As for relations with NATO, the Republic of Moldova has to accomplish lots of tasks stipulated by IPAP, which was signed by PCRM government with NATO. The plenary fulfilment of strategic goals in the limits of documents signed by the communist governance would deprive the PCRM of propagandistic possibilities against AIE members.

The most important capital gained in terms of foreign relations — the sympathy and support of key foreign partners of the Republic of Moldova — should turn in 2010 into a political, economic and financial support to overcome effects of the economic-financial and political crisis.

BOP at the end and beginning of governing… Does the ace up Ghimpu’s sleeves beat the revenge card of Communists?