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EU Foreign Affairs Council criticizes slow pace of reforms in Moldova, new electoral law and media ownership concentration

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at the press-conference after the Foreign Affairs Council, Source: openmediahub.com

26 February 2018- The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council issued its conclusions on the Republic of Moldova. The conclusions were rather critical of Moldova’s pace and character of reforms.

Speaking after the meeting the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security Federica Mogherini said the decision for the disbursement of the first tranche of the financial assistance for Moldova has not been taken yet and that further assessment will be needed in order the money to be released.

Mogherini who chaired the meeting underlined

“the EU supports Moldova and its citizens, but certain number of measures need to be delivered in order the support to be credible. Our aim is to support the country and the people, and this requires strong and credible national moves by the authorities on anticorruption, reform of judiciary and economic reforms. The two things go together,”

the EU top diplomat said after the meeting, according to OPEN MEDIA HUB. She said information from Moldovan citizens and “certain trends in society” made the EU express its position.

While the EU Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their “commitment to strengthening political association and economic integration between the European Union and the Republic of Moldova” based on the Association Agreement, they also highlighted that it is crucial that Moldovan authorities implement the reforms started in 2016.

 “The Council recalls that EU assistance to the Republic of Moldova is based on strict conditionality, and is linked to satisfactory progress in reforms”, reads the document.

On democracy, multi-party system and human rights

Recalling the importance of respecting effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party system, the rule of law and respect for human rights, the Council welcomed Moldova’s Action Plan on the consolidation of interethnic relations. And then the critical part comes in…

First of all, the Council repeated the concerns of many European officials about the new mixed electoral system, clearly criticizing it:

“The Council regrets that the new electoral law did not address some of the key recommendations of the Joint Opinion of the CoE’s Venice Commission
OSCE’s ODIHR. The Joint Opinion referred inter alia to the lack of consensus on the proposed reform and to the risk that majoritarian candidates may be influenced by businesspeople or other actors who follow their own separate interests”, reads the document, underlining the importance of reforms on party financing and campaign financing.

The Council also encouraged the Moldovan authorities to improve its relations with the civil society in the decision-making process.

A major focus of the Council’s conclusions was on media freedom.

The improvement of the audiovisual code, the transparency of media ownership and the creation of conditions for independent outlets to prosper will be strictly observed, the Council notes in its conclusions. In regard to the anti-propaganda law, the Council “acknowledges that disinformation and propaganda can have considerable negative effects, but it also notes that the measures adopted should be necessary, proportionate and in conformity with the relevant international law”.

On the anti-corruption fight and judiciary, prosecution systems reforms

The Council underlined that “renewed efforts should be urgently dedicated to a more decisive fight against corruption with tangible results, and that this should be accompanied by a thorough reform of the judiciary, including the prosecution service”. It also underlines that this reform process should include thorough, impartial and comprehensive investigations and prosecutions of all those involved in the massive banking fraud that was exposed in 2014. Moreover, the Council believes that a proven track-record of convictions for corruption, in particular, high-level corruption, and respect for the rule of law are key elements to restore the trust of citizens.

While welcoming the recent appointments in the anti-corruption institutions and the adoption of an anti-money laundering law, the Council recalled the importance of setting up an autonomous office in charge of preventing and fighting money laundering and developing capacities to fight laundering and freeze suspicious transactions.

Economic and energy reforms

More positively, the EU Council notes that, despite progress, Moldova needs to do more to improve the business environment. In regard to the DCFTA, the EU expects quite more:

The Council expects the Republic of Moldova to step up its reform efforts related to the implementation and enforcement of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, including by strengthening the operational capacity and independence of the relevant institutions.

On energy, the EU calls on Moldova to fully respect the Energy Community acquis, in particular at tariff setting for energy distribution, but also to accelerate the implementation of the energy sector in line with the EU Third Energy Package and the implementation of interconnection projects.

Several times in the document, the EU stresses that the disbursement of the tranches of the Macro-Financial Assistance will be in strict conformance with the fulfilment of the agreed upon 28 conditions.

Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs communicated the conclusions differently than the EU Council. The MFA press-release reads that the Council took note of Moldova’s progress since February 2016: its achievements in the banking sector, the visa-free regime conditions, the Eastern Partnership contribution and the positive dynamics in the Transnistrian conflict settlement. For the criticisms, the MFA left one small paragraph:

“The text of the conclusions also show the domains where an increased pace of transformation is needed, in particular, the justice sector, mass-media, fighting corruption, investigating the banking fraud”, reads the not-modest press release.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

Gagauzia

MP leaves Democratic Party, Moldova Parliament for “New Gagauzia” group

27 April 2018- The Member of the Moldovan Parliament, Nikolay Dudoglo, announced about his withdrawal from the Democratic Party (PDM) and the withdrawal of his MP mandate.

Dudoglo was reportedly asked by the Democratic leadership to choose between his membership in the party and his participation in a new regional political movement “Eni Gagauzia” (New Gagauzia). In a press release of the organization, the Gagauz MP and former Comrat mayor stated that he chose to lead New Gagauzia because “it is time to make Gagauzia a strong region”.

Dudoglo confessed that despite having a fruitful work with PDM members, he abstained from voting for projects that did not coincide with his vision on Gagauzia. His recent activity within New Gagauzia posed a problem for the Democrats:

“The leadership of PDM believes that some of my actions, that I undertook from Gagauzia’s perspective, violate the principles of the party and the European vector of the development of the State”, said the MP.

Dudoglo underlined that he would remain politically active as a “leader” of his people:

“I stay with the conviction that we need to act the way our people want. I am sure that I can fulfill serious tasks, which are put before us by life, being an independent leader of my people (literal meaning nation– Moldova.org)“, concluded Dudoglo, expressing his hope for understanding and support.

New Gagauzia reportedly joined the Democratic Party of Moldova in 2012.

Gagauzia was established in 1994 as an autonomy for around 150 000 Gagauz (Turkish origin) people in the south of the Republic of Moldova. Gagauzia’s leadership is composed of the directly elected bashkan, now Irina Vlah, and the People’s Assembly.

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Politics

Silvia Radu resigns from position of Chișinău interim mayor to participate in elections

25 April 2018- Silvia Radu announced that she would resign from the position of interim mayor of Chișinău. The decision was made after she was registered as an independent candidate in the mayoral elections from May 20th.

“I am leaving the leadership of the City Council to win the elections. I want the changes in this city to go on, to have a European city. I wish that all projects initiated by me continued. They are projects that the city needs”said Radu, mentioning that she would finance her campaign from her family’s money.

The responsibilities of interim mayor would thus go to the vice-mayor, Ruslan Codreanu.

So far, 12 candidates registered for the mayoral race in Chișinău. The elections were announced early because of the resignation of Dorin Chirtoacă, investigated in a corruption case.

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Politics

Ukraine-Moldova joint border control agreement promulgated by Poroshenko, new transport agreement is signed

12 April 2018- The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, promulgated the law on the Agreement on the joint border control in the joint checkpoints of the Moldo-Ukrainian frontier. The promulgation was made in the presence of the Moldovan Prime-Minister Pavel Filip.

The Agreement was previously ratified by the Ukrainian Rada on 1 March 2018, while the first joint control began at the Cuciurgan-Pervomaisk checkpoint, within the Transnistrian segment of the frontier.

According to an official press-release, Filip and Poroshenko set as priorities for the following period the opening of the bridge between Unguri and Boronița, and the activation of the process of demarcation of the Moldo-Ukrainian border.

According to Kyiv Post, the Moldovan PM and the Ukrainian President talked about the negotiation process on the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on the functioning of the Dniester integrated hydroelectric complex, but also about the Transnistrian settlement and the Moldovan help to Ukrainian children from Donbas.

On the same day, PM Filip assisted with his Ukrainian homolog, Volodymyr Groysman, at the ceremony of the signing of the protocol on modifying the Agreement between Moldova and Ukraine on the international automobile communications. The move aimed at liberalizing the international goods and passengers transportation between the countries comes at a time of increased trade links (reported 13% increase in 2017). Thus, the automobiles traveling between Moldova and Ukraine (complying with EURO 3 standards) will be not required international authorizations.

The Protocol decision on a 1993 Agreement aims at liberalizing the air transport system by developing the air links, facilitating the activity of airlines, creating conditions for companies that will work between the two countries, writes Mold-street.com.

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