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Public Discussion: Year 2018: accomplishments, failures and challenges in Moldova’s European integration
on the organization of the debate “Year 2018: accomplishments, failures and challenges in Moldova’s European integration”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
The 99th debate held on December 17, 2018 involved: vice president of the Party “Action and Solidarity”, Valeriu Ghiletski, Deputy Parliament Speaker Valeriu Ghiletski and Igor Boțan, standing expert of the project.
Why this theme and this format?
This subject, because as the year draws to an end, the public deserves to see a sum-up of progresses made in key areas, including in the arguably most important one - that of European integration. The subject is all the more topical given how different, if not diametrically opposite the opinions on the progress made are, as voiced by the various stakeholders, both domestic and foreign. There are two different "truths", it seems, about the same matter. So, which of them is the "real truth"? Could it be somewhere in the middle, like it happens in many controversial cases? Or is there any tilt towards one side or another? The selection of speakers aims to reflect these two main viewpoints: the official, optimistic one; and the alternative, pessimistic or critical one. We made our best effort to have a Democratic Party representative join the debate as well, but the governing party (the one that is supposed to be the most accountable in either respect) bowed out yet again.
Standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said it is important to take into account the fact that 27 years after the Republic of Moldova declared its Independence, the country is actually engaged in the European integration process. The fact that the Declaration of Independence clearly says that the Republic of Moldova embraces the European values should also not be forgotten. At the same time, there is an interpretation of the Constitutional Court in this regard, which says that what the Declaration of Independence says creates a framework for Moldova’s European integration. “When the Constitutional Court endorsed the bill to amend the Constitution, it made reference to the Declaration of Independent. So, the starting point was August 27, 1991, when the European course of the Republic of Moldova was set. I refer to the first Parliament – the Independence Parliament – which laid this foundation stone. A new electoral cycle followed, when the Democratic Agrarian Party ruled. Nevertheless, I want to remind that the external policy conception adopted by the agrarian Parliament clearly says that the European integration is one of the perspectives of the Republic of Moldova,” explained Igor Boțan.
According to the expert, in that period the then President Petru Luchinski addressed two letters to the European Commission by which he demanded that the Republic of Moldova should be accepted as a candidate country for EU membership. Later the Sturza Government, in its government program, clearly set the European integration as a priority. “The government of the Party of Communists was marked by three fundamental documents concerning the European integration. This is the presidential decree of November 13, 2002 by which the commission for European integration was set up to draft a plan of action in this regard. Also, on February 22, 2005, the Moldova – EU Plan of Action was signed. On March 24, 2005, 101 MPs signed the declaration on the partnership of all the political forces of Moldova for the European integration. On May 7, 2009, the Republic of Moldova joined the Eastern Partnership. Later, the Alliance for European Integration ruled and the Republic of Moldova obtained the visa free regime and then signed the Association Agreement with the Free Trade Agreement with the EU, which is a fundamental document,” stated Igor Boțan.
According to him, the Association Agreement is the most important document that the Republic of Moldova ever signed and there are no areas of the public life - economic, social or of another kind - that would not be covered by this document. This thing was also said by the current leaders of the Party of Socialists. According to them, there is no alternative to Moldova’s European integration. This thesis was announced when Zinaida Grecheanyi was running and when she became Premier. “Very important things happened this year. There was also the message transmitted by Igor Dodon to the world leaders at the Crans Montana Forum. He assured the world leaders that he worked on a project that would prepare the Republic of Moldova for joining the European Union when this problem was included in the agenda. Now in 2018, Parliament could not modify the Constitution to enshrine the European course in it, as the Declaration of Independence provides, and this is regrettable, but explanations exist for such a development,” stated the expert, noting the constitutional framework has been prepared for the European integration since 1991.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Valeriu Ghiletski said 2018 has been marked by accomplishments and challenges too. “Progress has been made at economic, macroeconomic, social levels, but challenges were also witnessed, regarding the political situation at domestic level, in particular in the relationship with the European partners. It is evident that all these things left an imprint on 2018, which is a pre-electoral one. “I think we are unable to assess the witnessed accomplishments. If these comes from a government we do not support, we tend to ignore or to even criticize these results. If they come from elsewhere, they are presented in a much more favorable light. However, I think this year was generally good. There was peace and quietness in the country and this looks very important to me. Before the election campaign, we need freedom and peace. In this campaign, the people are those who will have a say, as it is normal in a democratic society. They are those who should carry out assessments. We, as politicians, can have subjective assessments. Even if the people are subjective in parts, in a democratic society this is the only test we should all recognize,” he stated.
According to the politician, the result of the upcoming elections that should be conducted correctly, in accordance with the international standards, will have to be recognized by everyone. The discussions with the foreign partners that are now frozen in parts will be then resumed. Results were achieved despite the criticism leveled at the Government and the parliamentary majority. This Government, despite the halt in external financing, not only covered the budget deficit, but also collected extra amounts that enabled to raise salaries and pensions, even if modestly. Respectively, the welfare and life of the citizens improved, even if slightly. There are also failures, mainly in the justice sector and this problem will be transmitted to the next Parliament and Government. Even if efforts have been made during many years to reform the justice sector, not much was done and the made progress cannot ensure the people’s confidence in justice.
Mihai Popșoi, vice president of the Party “Action and Solidarity”, said two truths cannot exist and the EU is justified to say things openly, namely that the institutions in the Republic of Moldova were captured by a small group of people that make laws to promote their narrow interests, not the people’s interests. Regrettably, multiple examples can be given in this regard. This year was a year of regression, missed opportunities and disappointments. The disappointment has never been greater than that in Moldova’s relationship with the EU that resulted mainly from problems faced in the justice and electoral sectors. “The theft of the US$ 1 billion that became known worldwide continues to be investigated formally as one of the key figures in this case according to the Kroll investigation, Mister Shor, is still free. Moreover, he runs a political party that spends huge sums of money in the hope that he will enter Parliament, will receive parliamentary immunity and will continue to provide clientele services to his political master, Mister Plahotniuc. This suits neither the citizens of the Republic of Moldova nor the European partners of the country that sincerely want the Republic of Moldova to prosper and achieve its European integration aspiration,” stated the politician.
Mihai Popșoi also spoke about the amendment of the electoral system, saying this was made despite the criticism and reservations of a large number of national parties and foreign partners, such as the Venice Commission, the OSCE, the EU and the U.S., which unanimously condemned the replacement of the electoral system and the lack of national consensus. This amendment evidently favors the Party of Socialists and, in parts, the Democratic Party. This offers increased influence to well-off people and undermines the representativeness and democratic process in general. “But no other event than the invalidation of the Chisinau mayoral elections, which were won by the pro-European opposition revealed how rotten the situation in “our Denmark”, the Republic of Moldova, is. The victory was won despite all the prognostications as polls and the initial campaign and the government’s administrative resources didn’t give much chances to the pro-European candidate. But the united opposition proved its viability and this panicked the government, especially the person who controls the parliamentary majority with very weak legitimacy, Mister Plahotniuc. The tragic invalidation of elections was followed by other tragic events,” he stated, mentioning among other shameful events the expulsion of Turkish teachers and, more recently, the dubious appointments to a number of important posts.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 17.12.18, „Year 2018: accomplishments, failures and challenges in Moldova’s European integration. IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95415; „Igor Boțan: Democratic freedoms cannot be sacrificed for sake of relative socioeconomic achievements” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95418; „Valeriu Ghiletski: 2018 was in general a good year” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/95421; „Mihai Popșoi: 2018 was year of regression and missed opportunities” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/95422; on 18.12.18: „Mihai Popșoi: In Moldova there is no economic and financial stability” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/95425; „Valeriu Giletski: Current Government not only covered budget deficit, but ensured larger revenues” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/95426; „Igor Boțan: Association Agreement with EU is most important document” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95431.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN
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