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Fixing a US Diplomatic Gaffe: Protests in Romania and the Republic of Moldova

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No international subject is more sensitive for Romania than the problem of Bessarabia, the eastern half of the old Principality of Moldova, and the fate of those circa four million Romanians living there. The province was first annexed by tsarist Russia in 1812, reunited with Romania in 1918, invaded by the Soviet troops following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in 1940, but retaken by Romania in 1941 only to be re-annexed by the USSR in 1944. Based upon its territory, Moscow organized the Soviet Republic of Moldova, which became independent after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. The international conditions of the time, the Soviet-American agreements signed at Malta, and the lack of vision of the post-1989 Romanian governments left the Republic of Moldova in limbo.
While Romania joined the European Union and NATO and became a loyal ally of the United States, Moldova remained under Russian control. Nevertheless, every specialist knows that Moldovans are Romanians and their aspiration is reunification. From a Romanian point of view, reunification is natural and imminent although its timing may require some patience. Yet, the recent statement of the U.S. Ambassador to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, triggered dismay and indignation at almost every level in both Moldova and Romania.
On August 26th on the occasion of Moldova’s ‘independence’, America’s Ambassador to Chisinau, James Pettit, gave a televised interview. He stated that Moldovans are a distinct nation with their own history and traits and have their independent country. He also said that Moldova must remain a sovereign state and therefore, it is not good for the people to think of joining Romania because union is not a practical solution… By making this statement, Ambassador Pettit reiterated the old Soviet point of view. His pronouncements raised questions about America’s policy and reliability and upset some of the highest institutions of Moldova and Romania.
Speaking at Moldova’s Academy of Sciences on August 31st the very President of Moldova Nicolae Timofte responded: I am of Romanian origin as were my parents, my grandparents and all those who live on this land. We are ethnic Romanians although we call ourselves Moldovans. This truth should be accepted once and for all, he concluded. At the same time, The Writers’ Union of Moldova issued a statement underlying its moral obligation to take a stand and denounce Ambassador Pettit… for distorting the truth and for offending the ‘holy of holies’ of the Romanian national identity— the unity of language, history and culture…
Similar reactions were reported virtually at every social level in Moldova and Romania and were published by the press and aired by mass media. Here are a few titles from the press: Stop Abusing our National Ideals, Defend us God from our Friends, What 25 years of Independence? Why do Americans claim that Moldovans are not Romanians?… Some of the articles asked clear and pertinent questions: Is it possible that America does not know the truth about Bessarabia? Is it possible that it does not know about the people of this province, mostly Romanians, arrested, killed or deported to Siberia? Is it possible that the State Department does not know about the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact? Ribbentrop was hanged after the Nurnberg trial, but apparently his infamous pact has remained. Does the U.S. ambassador to Chisinau want to perpetuate the consequences of this pact and alienate Romanians in the process? Is this the official position of the State Department…?
The diplomatic uproar also upset the Senate of Romania, which sent Washington a letter of protest. The letter stresses that the Senate is the supreme representative body of the Romanian people and it mentions clearly: The Romanian Senate rejects without equivocation the declarations of the U.S. ambassador to Chisinau regardless if they represent his personal opinion or the official position of the American Government. And the Senate asked for clarifications.
The clarification came immediately from the American Embassy in Bucharest, and it was not very pleasing for most people: The U‎.S. has long supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. The United States applauds Romania for its continued leadership and collaborative approach to support Moldova’s democratic development, reform efforts, and further integration into the EU according to the desires of the people. … Drawing broader interpretations of our policy goes beyond the scope of our policy.

Most Romanian and Moldovan newspapers reacted with various interpretations and began to doubt America’s commitment to Romania. Some editors even suggested that in the grand scheme of international events, the U.S. might even trade Romania to Russia for stability in Europe. A pertinent analysis in this vein was authored by Dan Dungaciu, head or Romania’s Institute for South-East European Studies. He concludes that the State Department is under the influence of specialists that embrace the old Soviet view point which, in his opinion, is damaging America’s diplomacy. The analyst stressed that if the ambassador’s statement represented the official views of the State Department, then we could see the huge difference between the position of a great American president, Ronald Reagan, and the administration of President Obama.

In Bucharest, at a public rally in the University Plaza, young people collected thousands of books about Moldova to be sent to Ambassador Pettit to educate himself on the topic.

Yet, the uproar had a positive outcome. Ambassador James Pettit had a meeting with Mihai Ghimpu, leader of the Moldovan Liberal party and most likely candidate for next month’s presidential elections in Moldova. According to cotidianul.ro of 5 September, Ghimpu explained to the ambassador in very clear terms that Moldovans are Romanians and that the aspiration of most of them is to reunite with Romania. He also said that in 1991 he personally voted for the independence of Moldova because union was not possible then, but people like him saw in the independence just a step toward union. If we do not reunite with Romania, Mihai Ghimpu added, we will be occupied by Russia the same way Crimea was occupied. The Ambassador listened and then said that by making the statement of August 26, he did not want to offend the aspirations of the people. In the end, he stated: If the Moldovans want to unite with Romania, I would respect the decision and the ideal of the unionist movement.

The opinion belongs to Nicholas Dima.

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

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When Will the Trump Show End?

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This opinion piece was written by Dr. Ionas Aurelian Rus, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (USA). The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

***

I have been asked repeatedly when the Trump presidency will end. My answer has been for several months “Probably on January 20, 2021”.
Trump’s presidency has been far from a success, yet the fact remains that whatever can be proven about Donald Trump, namely the fact that the real estate tycoon engaged in money laundering, is probably not one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” necessary for impeachment and removal from office any more than Bill Clinton’s perjury about what he did with Monica “Jaws” Lewinsky. The issue of whether there is a “smoking gun” in connection with Russiagate is the wrong question. There is a smoking gun in the case of various people linked to Trump, some of whom will go to jail. Yet the interpretation of the evidence has come to be seen as an issue of opinion in the post-modern age of “alternative facts”. It is unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will remove the president who lost the popular vote by almost three million votes to Hillary Clinton from office.
Trump’s popularity rate of 40%, which has been stationary for a long time, is not sufficient for re-election, yet it is also too high for impeachment. Very many of the Republican House of Representatives members will vote against impeachment due to the fear of Trumpist competition in the Republican primaries. They might be seen as “profiles in lack of courage” from a Democratic perspective, or as individuals dedicated to a Republican legislative agenda from some conservative perspectives. The standard conservative candidate for the Republican nomination for the Virginia governorship for 2017, Ed Gillespie, barely won by 43.7% against the Trumpist Corey Stuart, who got 42.5% on June 13, 2017. Many House of Representatives members do dislike Trump, but most of their voters despise the Democrats so much that impeachment is out of the question as long as the Republicans control the House. Even if the Democrats will win the House of Representatives elections of 2018, which is less than 50% likely, it is unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote for Trump’s removal from office.
Trump has indeed lost some support in comparison with the November 2016 elections, but those voters whose support he has lost are unlikely to vote in the Republican primaries. He has lost the support of many of the Democratic populists and has gained the support of some former Cruz voters who are satisfied that the president is, surprisingly to them, conservative enough. Trump has been a “fake outsider”, in respect to China a “fake protectionist”, and probably a fake populist. Unlike the wealthy, but elitist, 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, he does not strike one as an elitist who would eat “grey poupon, one of the life’s finer pleasures”. Just like Bill Clinton, Trump likes McDonald’s.
Trump has been lucky with his enemies, not only in the Republican primaries and the general election but also in the press. The flaw of the mostly Democratic Washington and New York press, especially in relation to Russiagate, is obsessiveness, which makes it boring for a person with a short attention span. That Trump has been guilty of unethical behavior is clear. Yet his spirited defense of his former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is less reminiscent of Richard Nixon during Watergate from the movie “All the President’s Men” (though the reality was more complex than the movie), and more similar to Harry Truman’s defense of the former State Department employee and Soviet Communist spy Alger Hiss, who was convicted of perjury in 1950.
There was also a fear that Donald Trump would hand over various countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to the Russian sphere of influence. This has not happened at the G-20 meeting, while in Warsaw, Poland, Trump fully endorsed NATO. Would there have been more leaks about Trumpworld’s links with Russia if NATO would not have been fully endorsed, or if Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia would have been handed over by Trump to the Russian sphere of influence? Perhaps. Yet this is not the age when this could be easily done. There is, after all, even a European Union which does not want these countries to join the Russian sphere of influence. If he would have attempted to help Putin expand his sphere of influence, that would have constituted proof of intentionality and thus of impeachability in the Trump team’s collusion with Russia. And Trump is still a very intelligent man, who knows how to hire very well-paid, very smart lawyers.
Yet reciprocating Russian president’s Vladimir Putin’s endorsement of Trump during the 2016 elections and his “extra credit” help with the elections, as one of my former students called it, Trump has de facto endorsed Putin for his 2018 re-election at G-20. Trump’s past investments in other countries before his presidency did not take into account human rights. The current administration has been much less supportive of human rights around the world than any U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, to the immense pleasure of Russia’s president. Putin seems indeed like Dr. Evil. We are thus dealing with organized evil, whereas Trump is merely “creative” with his Twitter.
The charismatic Republican star Trump, who succeeded Barack Obama, has also benefited from opponents who were not charismatic in the Republican primaries and caucuses, and against Hillary Clinton in the general election. Trump was quite original in his insults, but his elite opponents have not been up to the task. It is hard to imagine that any Republican could defeat Trump in the quest for the Republican nomination for 2020, and the opinion polls are showing that he would get the support of 59 to 68% in September 2018. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich, who is of Czech and Croatian ancestry, is planning to run for the Republican nomination in 2020 and will damage Trump.
Trump has also benefited from Putin’s “useful idiots” from the unreasonable left of the Jill Stein, Oliver Stone, and Stephen Cohen variety, who could be seen on RT (Russia Today) and in other places. Trump is afraid of being assassinated by the CIA, just as in Oliver Stone’s famous movie, “JFK”. Progressive public figures have not taken a position against Putin’s useful idiots, though they should have. In 1948, the mainstream liberals defined the pro-Soviet Russian elements as beyond the pale, but this did not happen in 2016. And, in a certain section of academia, there is more sympathy for those fired from the State Department under Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry under Obama for being too pro-Russia than for those fired under Secretary of State Tillerson under Trump for being too anti-Russia.
Could Trump be re-elected? This is unlikely, but not impossible, in the case of a catastrophe like the 9/11/2001 attacks, or of a series of bomb threats and actual bombings in the bathrooms in train stations and colleges, brought to us by Russian intelligence under the “modest” guidance of Vladimir Putin. Could Trump be impeached and removed from office? This is very unlikely, but he might resign a la Richard Nixon, and he might even invoke health as a reason for his resignation. Yet even that scenario of a shortened Trump presidency is unlikely.
So Trump will probably continue serving as the president of the U.S. until January 20, 2021, after which he will probably be succeeded by the Democratic presidential candidate. In any case, his epitaph should be, just like that of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, “He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em.”

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Diaspora

Moldova through the eyes of a European immigrant: Marc Pilkington talks about politics, culture and diaspora// INTERVIEW

Marc Pilkington is an Associate Professor of Economics at the COMUE, University of Burgundy Franche Comté, France, where he was appointed in 2012. Between 2015 and 2017, he was on entrepreneurial leave in the Republic of Moldova. His business venture Moldova Tours 2.0 lies at the intersection between tourism growth, poverty alleviation and digital technologies. He has written two books and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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A: Could you tell me more about what brought you here?

M: I’m half French, half British and, before coming to Moldova, I was associate professor of economics at a French public university. A few years ago, I wanted to learn Romanian, for no special reasons: I liked the language and wanted to learn it in Romania, so I went to Brasov and did a summer course there. My first contact with Moldova was 10 years ago. I was teaching in Nice, in the South of France, and I had a few students from Moldova. At the time, I didn’t even know where Moldova was, I was curious. I just went there after my trip to Romania. I tried not to go on Google or get information from other people, I wanted to get my own impressions. Without much research, I must say I heard people say that “Moldova is a very poor country, poorest in the Europe, etc.” My first experience in Chisinau was, actually, kind of a good surprise. I like your country very much. At the time, my Romanian was very bad compared to what it is now, so people tried to help me out. When I first got to Moldova in 2015, your country was voted the least visited country in Europe. It’s rather sad that people don’t visit it, considering the fact that you have a nice country and nice people. I thought, why not go to Moldova, open a little company and try to make something with tourism? I feel like it’s not so explored, although it has a lot of potential. Even if I failed, I would benefit from the experience of living in a different country. Just before leaving, I answered a call for papers to contribute to a book focusing on technology and globalization. In fact, what I did was submit a proposal for what I had in mind back then, the idea that one can only improve tourism in Moldova if one uses technology. It’s because today, we’re living in a kind of platform-based world, with the social media. I think it’s a good idea to try to use technology and promote the country like that.

This was my whole reflection on Tourism 2.0. It’s getting people to interact, to contribute, to generate content, to share photos, ideas and experiences. If you go to travel agency websites, sometimes – you do find nice websites, with nice photos, etc.. But if people don’t know anything about Moldova, even if it looks nice, they will not go there. I remember very well, my feeling when I wanted to go for the first time. I was a bit impressed, because my language skills were not very good. It’s a bit of a mysterious country, it used to be part of the Soviet Union. All these post soviet countries are very interesting. Coming to Eastern Europe is like a discovery, it’s nothing like Austria or Switzerland. I was surprised, because it wasn’t that difficult to be in Moldova. People were nice, I could see that they had problems… I wouldn’t like to talk about all their problems, but life was tough, Moldova has a lot of poverty, a lot of corruption – these are the big issues. But in spite of that, people are trying to do something. Also, when you’re a foreigner, you’re being treated very nicely. I’m sad to say this, but most people in the world do not know where Moldova is. It’s not because they’re stupid, it’s because there isn’t a lot of communication, and this is the big problem with Moldova. Every time there is communication in the media – it is to highlight the problems. If you want me to list all the problems with Moldova, I’ll unfortunately write a very long list.

For us, foreigners being in Moldova is like an adventure. A lot of people who go to Moldova for the first time do it because they have a friend there. I think there could be psychological aspects for Moldovan people to overcome in order to attract tourists to Moldova. You have to show them the good things first; not just the problems, not just the corruption, not just the banking scandals, but also the culture, the traditions, etc.. That’s my general perspective about your country.

A: Can you briefly describe what each of the Moldova Tours 2.0 perspective tours offer within their activities?

M: What I was thinking was that everybody has their own reasons to go to Moldova. For example, the monastery tours would be for people interested in religious tourism. You have very nice monasteries in Moldova. One can take a whole week to just do this. Most people don’t just go to a country in order to visit a monastery. I think it was a good thing to divide tours in such a way, because I knew there would be people interested in them. For example, I was approached by a company in Pakistan. A Christian group of people with a travel agency in Pakistan. They wanted to send me some customers, because they do religious tourism in countries like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, etc.. Moldova would be a whole new market for them. And then, there are people interested in wine. The French region where I come from, Burgundy, is very famous for wine. I must say I’m very impressed by the quality of the Moldovan wine. Then, you have the corporate tours. That’s for business men, for potential investors and so you need to organize something which is very suitable for them. I like the idea of the social business tours very much. A lot of people want to go to Moldova with some kind of NGO perspective. They know there are a lot of problems and so they want to help.

Most people are not going to be interested in doing one thing for a week, so that’s what the perspective tours offer. You go to Moldova for the first time and then, you could have a mix of everything. It’s funny, 2 days ago I received an E-mail from somebody in Florida, and I thought that was crazy, because they wanted to travel all the way from Florida, just to visit one monastery near Nisporeni. I thought that was crazy! Why would you come all the way up here and only want to see one thing?

Another thing I am exploring right now, and I believe has a lot of potential, is developing Russian teaching combined with tourism. One reason is because Moldova is nice and most people don’t know about it, and the other one is because it is, actually, very cheap. Moldovan people complain that there is no money, that everything is expensive, and it’s true, because the salaries are very low here. Now, if you come from the Netherlands with a very good purchasing power, you’ll find Moldova extremely cheap, compared to other destinations.

Moldova has very good doctors as well. I’ve spoken to people, and I know that the dental care you can get in Moldova would be the same as what you can get in France or Germany, but four times cheaper. It’s another thing you can think about.

A: Could you explain what is the role of Blockchain for Tourism 2.0, in easy terms?

M: That is a very important question. Blockchain is an area of interest, it’s something I have researched and published articles about. It’s really something very large that I’m interested in. At first, it all started with Bitcoin. It’s not just about Bitcoin, it’s about the technology behind Bitcoin. A British guy currently staying in Moldova has a big project here. In fact, he had a very successful experience on a Greek island about 2 years ago. There was a big turmoil in Greece, people were talking about the exit from the European Union. Finally, they saw the problems, but it was a big mess. So what he did, he went to a Greek island and introduced the cryptocurrency based on blockchain through just tourism – as an experiment. This cryptocurrency would be accepted by hotels, restaurants, tourism service providers, and there would be no fee. People would save money thanks to this cryptographic technology… You could transfer money without paying the fee. You pay very high fees when you transfer by credit card, for instance, when you travel abroad. This guy obtained a very good result on this island, where he introduced the blockchain-based currency. You need two things: you need people to work together as a coherent ecosystem, and this is exactly what tourism is about. Nowadays, you just have individual and separated elements. There are hotels, restaurants, guides, travel agencies. Everybody is working separately. If you could introduce a crypto-token – which would be accepted as a parallel currency – this could redefine tourism and, it would bring a lot of media exposure. There would be people that would come to Moldova because they’re curious. For example, a lot of people travelled to the island where the clip ‘Despacito’ was filmed (editor’s note: Porto Rico) – just because of the popularity on the internet. I’m not saying we should be superficial all the time, but sometimes you have to play with the marketing trends, the social media, so that you can create some kind of novelty. I think it would be interesting for people. The only people who go to Moldova nowadays either have a friend there, or are a bit adventurous, curious.

A lot of people interested in History come to Moldova as well. Moldova has a very rich history. There are settlements in the North of Moldova, and these settlements come
from one of the oldest civilizations that has ever existed in Europe, the Cucuteni civilization, around 7000 years ago. This civilization was, in fact, extremely advanced. I know someone who was doing her PhD in archeology, and she excavated some remnants of this ancient civilization. Those were very intelligent people, the most advanced, considering the level of technology they had at the time. The way this civilization disappeared is very mysterious as well. It’s a bit like in the Bible, there could have been a natural disaster, a catarstrophe – it’s very unclear under which circumstances this civilization disappeared.

Source: Transylvaniaworld.com

Click here for more about the Cucuteni civilization.

It’s not just the 20th century and the Soviet Union that attract tourists interested in history. A lot happened in the Middle ages as well, or around the Stefan cel Mare time. It is a very deep belief to me, that a lot of Moldovans are very critical about their own countries because of all the political problems. Most of the time are not aware of their own heritage, their culture. Surprisingly to me, a lot of Moldovans haven’t even visited their own country. On my second day in Moldova, I was in Tipova. Talking to some people later who’ve lived in Moldova forever, and they told me they’d never been to Tipova. And it’s a very nice place in your country. How can you promote your country if you don’t know it too well?

A: I’d like to talk more about poverty and corruption in Moldova. What way do you believe in, that would get Moldova to consolidate the rule of law? What “propels judicial nihilism and corruption in Moldovan society?”

M: May I ask what you’re studing in the Netherlands?

A: It’s called Interactive/Media/Design, a conceptual art-related subject.

M: So you’re not a law student. The question you asked me is very difficult. How could we consolidate, strengthen the rule of law? You said it very well, Moldova is a very young country – 26-27 years old, the problem you have in Moldova is the same problem a lot of transition economies have: high levels of corruption. One could find the same problems in a lot of similar economies. With more economic grouth, with more economic prosperity – there would be less corruption. But this is only in the long term, so the question is, how could we improve the situation in the short term at least, knowing that it’s a difficult problem, because corruption in Moldova is a big problem. You asked a question about Blockchain, and I should’ve added something. Blockchain has some applications for the e-government, and also, more transparency in everything: for public services, in public life etc. What I think Moldova needs is more transparency about politicians. They have vested interests, and it could be that blockchain technologies could help out here. Say, you use blockchain for publicizing information related to politicians, especially politicians involved in previous elections, and see if they have any potential conflict of interest. You could see, for example, if they have a contract with a big company. One could use digital technologies, like blockchain, to generate more transparency. It would be a step in the right direction. I see that a lot of people vote for politicians for very superficial reasons. And this is what happened last year, in 2016 – people being disappointed with the EU movement and decided to look backwards, up to the Russian standards. If people reflected more upon this, they would understand it’s not as simple as it seems. People need to create a more transparent environment and know exactly who they’re voting for – the ideas they are going to present in the parliament. 

A: I’m not sure whether you’ve read “Society of the spectacle” by Guy Debord, but he wrote a lot about the political spectacle, comparing the authorities to some sort of ‘pseudo-stars.’ He said “The spectacle exists in a concentrated form and diffuse form depending on the requirements of the particular stage of poverty it denies and supports.”

Unquestionably, the Moldovan authorities manipulate people in any way they can. If you agree with that, what is the reason this whole spectacle is happening? Why have people become hopeless and inactive in what comes to being part of a community and fighting for a better country?

M: Thank you for this question. One of my best friends who I’m collaborating with for this project, is a journalist here. She told me, many times, that there isn’t really any independent journalism in Moldova. People have tried, and failed – because of the lack of financial resources. The media is politically controlled, and so a lot of people are extremely passive. A thing which is very sad about Moldova is the divide between people who live here and the diaspora. When you go abroad you get to interact with other cultures, other people – it opens your mind. A lot of people in Moldova have a very narrow mindset, and this is very easy to understand. They have a life which is very difficult, they may be making around €250 a month, so when they go back home in the evening – they’re tired, they have to look after their children, their household. They turn on the television – they don’t really have the energy, the strength to go further than that. I know there are some people who are trying to do this – people with a more critical perspective. These people should really be given credit for trying to open minds and eyes of the masses. Poverty turns it into an extremely slow process.

When I came to Moldova, about to establish myself, I’ve arrived on September 4th 2015, and 2 days later you had the biggest demonstration ever in the history of your country. Chisinau had more people on the streets than on Independence Day in 1991. I think it was around 100.000 people, and that was a big movement. Through the winter, there were big protests in front of the government building. I thought that, maybe, there was going to be a similar scenario – like you had in Ukraine, with Maidan. I thought people were going to revolt, rebel against the government. And what happened was… it faded away. Everything went back to normal. People were resigned, I think. People – they can’t just spend 6 months in a tent, in front of the parliament. They need money, they have children… It’s just an economic necessity that brought people back to where they were. In fact, I don’t think anything has really changed, the appearance perhaps – on the surface. And this is sad, people are victims of their own economic conditions. There was a nice window at some stage, for people who want to change society. But this window is not really effective. I’m glad it didn’t turn into a similar movement as in Ukraine, because what happened in Ukraine was very violent. There was bloodshed, and I did not see Moldova as a country like that. It’s a very divided country. You have Russian speaking people, Romanian speaking people… Turkish speaking people (editor’s note: Gagauz), and so on – but it’s not a violent country. I’m glad that in spite of the problems you had, you didn’t take the same route as Ukraine, because the situation hasn’t improved much in there ever since. What Moldovan people need is to get more education. Education is another big problem in Moldova. It needs better education, better paid teachers, so that people have a more constructive criticism about what is going on around them. It’s more of a long term thing.

Getting back to my topic – it’s very important for your country that more foreigners go there. Of course, tourists are going to bring money, but they’re also going to bring in ideas by interacting with the locals. That’s something that could really help your country.

Boulevard Saint Germain, Paris, May 6 1968. Photograph: Bruno Barbey/Magnum

A: What would be an advice you could give to the Moldovan diaspora as well as the people living in Moldova in order for them to contribute to the country they hope for?

M: There are lot of different people in diaspora. It isn’t one whole mindset. There is something I wrote in my papers: it is about the future of Moldova the diaspora has a key role to play in. Diaspora may be the most decisive force for the future of Moldova. We were talking about technologies. What diaspora has to do, is try and be more united, try to be better connected on a platform, and thus, better organized. Diaspora needs to have a voice in the domestic affairs.

Today, the diaspora isn’t very well represented. I don’t think the voice of diaspora is very powerful. Using a platform-based technology would get diaspora to speak with a common voice in a way that is more coherent and powerful. Right now, you have Moldovans living almost everywhere in the world. Every country has a consulate, an embassy, and there is a need of organizing everything at an international level. I like Moldova.org a lot. I think you are doing something in the right direction. The platform you have is, in fact, a very powerful instrument. What you do – you are trying to inform people. My objective is trying to arouse interest about Moldova as a first step and bringing people to Moldova as a second step. It may sound like a foundation, but my project contains a private component, which is business, or profit-oriented. It’s ambitious, because it’s a big project, but I like to be optimistic, regardless of the problems and difficulties.

Access the Moldova Tours 2.0 website here.
Further readings:
Historic protests in Romania: are there any lessons for the Republic of Moldova? By Irina Staver and Marc Pilkington
Can the Blockchain Help Fight off Corruption in Developing Countries? The Case of the Republic of Moldova.
Why Everyone Is Getting Excited About This Underrated Travel Destination
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Important

The Socialist Federalization Plan Is Just as Bad for Moldova as the Kozak Plan

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This opinion piece was written by Dr. Ionas Aurelian Rus, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (USA). The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

***

The federalization plan of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova, supported by Moldovan President Igor Dodon, may be found on the party’s website. Unfortunately, the content of this plan is not known by enough people. Almost all of the information below may be found in the Socialist and other public sources, and the rest of the information comes from Western, especially American, interceptions, of Russian internal communications. It is not the fault of the author of this article if what Dodon said was misunderstood by the Russian authorities.

As is typical in federal states, the legislature of a potential federal Moldova, discussed in Article 5 of the Socialist plan, is bicameral, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The reason why the names of the two chambers of the US Congress have been chosen is likely to increase the chances that the U.S. authorities would be neutral to this plan. The order in which the two chambers are discussed in the Socialist plan is, however, different from that in the American constitution. The Senate is discussed before the House of Representatives, because the intent is that the Senate should be more powerful in the “Moldovan Federal Republic”.

The intent is that the Senate should be composed of 27 members, compared to 26 members in the 2003 Kozak Plan, which Moldova’s Communist president Vladimir Voronin refused to sign after initialing it due to societal opposition. According to the Socialist plan, “The number of senators from each of the subjects of the federation is determined by the need to ensure a proper representation in the legislative branch of the of power in the federation, irrespective of the size of the territory of the federation’s subject.” Although it was not included in the plan, and is only known from the interception of Russian internal communications, Transnistria will have 10 senators and Gagauzia 4. In other words, the two regions will have a majority in the Senate (14 out of 27 members). According to the Kozak plan, the 9 senators representing Transnistria and the 4 from Gagauzia represented exactly half of the 26 senators. Therefore, from this point of view, Dodon’s plan is worse for the majority population of the Republic of Moldova than the Kozak Plan. Senators are to be elected by the legislatures of (smaller) Moldova, Transnistria and Gagauzia, not by the population. It was the same way in the United States until 1913, or better, until the senators began to be elected directly by the voters, a third in 1914, a third in 1916 and a third in 1918. Before this change, when the legislatures of the states chose the senators, the system was corrupt.

In the Transnistrian separatist census of 2015, Transnistria had 475,000 inhabitants, of which 28.5% self-identified as Moldovans, 29.1% as Russians, and 22.9% as Ukrainians. Probably no linguistic statistics will appear, but most of the population of Transnistria is Russophone. In Gagauzia, with 104,449 inhabitants, 95.3% of the population is made up of ethnic minorities, including 83.8% Gagauz, according to the Moldovan census of 2014. In the rest of the Republic of Moldova, there were 2,409,034 inhabitants at the last census, more than 86% from the majority population. In conclusion, the 19.38% of the inhabitants of Transnistria and Gagauzia will be represented by the majority of the Senate according to the Socialist plan.

Both the composition of the cabinet of ministers and that of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, which will immediately have a new composition, will be proposed by the president and will have to be approved by the Senate and only by the Senate. Moreover, one may find in point 8.4 that “the Federal Constitutional Court is to be created on a parity basis, in accordance with the principle of equal rights of the subjects in defense of their rights.” According to the Kozak Plan, of 11 members of the Constitutional Court, only four were to be appointed by the Supreme Soviet of Transnistria and one of the Gagauz legislature. Therefore, in the Socialist plan, the regions with separatist tendencies would be favored more than in the Kozak Plan. Such a Constitutional Court will probably not stop Dodon’s dictatorial tendencies, but will approve them.

Nowhere in the plan is it written that the “Moldovan language” will use the Latin alphabet, and Dodon in fact promised the return to the Cyrillic alphabet. In fact, the “Moldovan language” will use both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. Although it is not written in the plan, Russian will become the second official language, something that was not included in the Kozak Plan, but was publicly mentioned by Dodon. There is nothing written about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria. The Transnistrian armed forces will be maintained for a while. They will include many soldiers, many of whom are currently in the Russian army.

Although it is not written in the public version of the plan, the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova will be canceled and replaced with Dodon’s federalization plan after the signing of an agreement between the leaders of the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria, with Russia’s approval and US neutrality, without the EU or Ukraine if they will oppose it, and will be guaranteed by the Russian Federation. Of course, this will only be possible if the Socialists will get a majority in parliament in 2018, but this majority will not have to be three-fifths or two-thirds, because this is not about amending the constitution but replacing it.

The plan does not indicate that the population will have the right to vote if they approve the plan or not. The Kozak Plan mentioned the approval of the plan through a referendum. It is possible that a referendum will take place throughout the Republic of Moldova, but this is not mentioned in the plan. In addition, this referendum may be fraudulent. The Central Electoral Commission is not mentioned in the federalization plan.

Dodon relies on the neutrality of the Western diplomats against such plans. It is hard to say whether he is right or not. However, Dodon’s federalization plans must be combatted massively, intensively and totally. The victory of the pro-Western or declared pro-Western forces in the parliamentary elections, i.e., without the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova and Our Party, would guarantee the avoidance of federalization.

In conclusion, the Socialist plans for federalization are a clear and immediate danger. Dodon’s plans are at least as bad as the Kozak Plan.

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