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Foreign Policy Association: Moldova avoided a big disaster at the 5+2 negotiations in Berlin

Victor Chirilă, the Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), issued an opinion about the 5+2 negotiations between Moldova and Transnistria that took place in Berlin.

According to Chirilă, Moldova avoided a big disaster in Berlin, because the moderators and the observers of the negotiations increased and coordinated pressure against Moldova’s position. Nevertheless, “George Balan, the Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration managed to negotiate a compromise protocol which would not harm irremediably the Republic of Moldova’s position”.

Chirilă thinks that Russia exploited the interests of the German OSCE Chairmanship and the inconsistency of Moldovan authorities to form a united front against the latter:

“At the meeting in Berlin, the moderators and observers formed a “united front” towards the Republic of Moldovan’s negotiator. It is undoubtedly a failure of the Moldovan diplomacy”, writes FPA.

The impartiality of the OSCE Mission in Chișinău is doubted, as it was pressuring the Moldovan part to make unilateral concessions:

“The impartiality of the OSCE Mission in Chisinau raises big question. It is increasingly pressuring the Moldovan authorities to make unilateral concessions, for example, to accept the movement of the vehicles from the Transnistrian region abroad with the registration plates issued by the separatist administration in Tiraspol. In essence, this would mean recognition the “state symbols” of the separatist regime before agreeing on the status of the Transnistrian region within Republic of Moldova, as stipulated by Law 173 dated 22 July, 2005 on basic provisions of the special legal status of the localities on the left bank of the Nistru River (Transnistria)”, reads the article.

Accordingly, the Moldovan diplomacy can be blamed for Ukraine’s inactivity and lack of support:

“Ukrainian support in Berlin was anemic, again a failure of our diplomacy. It seems that Ukrainian negotiator does not fully understand that the precedents decided today in the 5+2 will be applied tomorrow in Lugansk and Donetsk. Our authorities should ask themselves why this happens. The answer must be sought primarily in Chisinau.”

As expected, Russia imposed again its conditions:

“Russia again attempted to impose a formalizing of a binding guarantees mechanism on the implementation of the formal decisions between Chisinau and Tiraspol, which once accepted would legalize a process of gradual recognition of de-facto realities in the Transnistrian region. In other words, gradually legalize the unrecognized status of Transnistria, without formal negotiations on this issue.
The guarantee mechanism proposed by Russia, supported by Tiraspol and the OSCE mission in Chisinau has not been opposed by the observers, the US and EU. Ukraine has not supported the Russian proposal for now, but what will happen in the nearest future……..? Certainly, we cannot be sure at all that Ukraine would change its mind. Germany would rather support such a mechanism.”

Chirilă concludes that the imposed guarantees are unacceptable for Moldova and negotiations should be focused on the status of Transnistria:

“Moldovan authorities must say NO to any Russian attempts to legalize their dangerous mechanism of guarantees. First of all, Transnistrian side has to show a good faith and real will and determination to negotiate a political compromise over future Transnistrian status in a reintegrated Moldova. Only in the framework of comprehensive negotiations on the Transnistrian autonomous status we shall talk about guaranties.”

The 5+2 negotiations on the Transnistrian conflict took place on June 2nd in Berlin and included Moldovan authorities and the leadership of the unrecognized Transnistria as counterparts, Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE as moderators and the US and the EU as observers.

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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Weekly Roundup: Kozak is back, EU Council concerned about Moldova, Shor threatens with a belt

The Weekly Roundup is back after a two weeks break. Sorry about that, the world outside the window was more attractive to the editor that the news in Moldova.

Protests of the opposition continue: The pro-European extra-Parliamentary opposition parties, united under the ACUM Committee, continue their protests in Chișinău, asking for the validation of the Chișinău mayor election results and the reform of the electoral law for the Parliamentary elections which are expected to take place after 30 November this year, but before February 2019.

Protests against the opposition: Infamous banker, businessman, and Orhei mayor, Ilan Shor, gathered his supporters this week in front of the office of PAS party. Shor and his fellas condemned the declarations of the Liberal-Democrats and opposition leaders Maia Sandu and Andrei Năstase, who suggested Shor’s so-called “social shops” should be regarded as tools to launder the latter from the image of the “billion thief”.

Dionis Cenușa argues in an opinion piece that Shor’s protest is just an attempt to get public attention ahead of the Parliamentary elections and to hit the opposition leader Maia Sandu who criticized him for being the “architect of the billion theft”. His 80 (or so) social shops represent tools to use the poor, aged electorate in his penal and political cases.

Shor went further by threatening Sandu and Năstase with a belt in a Facebook video but also promising “lustration” to “every journalist” who “wrote bad things” about this protests. We can ignore the high price of the belt- Shor was and is known to be rich enough-, but the threatening part is how he promises to use the belt- by slapping Sandu’s and Năstase’s buttocks. Funny or not, it is true:

The media NGOs already condemned Shor’s threats.

Liberal Democrats ask the Constitutional Court to step in: The Liberal-Democratic caucus in the Moldovan Parliament and one Liberal, MP Lilian Carp, asked the Constitutional Court to give its opinion on whether courts can issue decisions on electoral frauds when there are no legal provisions on a specific type of frauds, and whether courts can annul election results if they are not asked to.

The complaint comes after Andrei Năstase’s election as Chișinău mayor was canceled based on a complaint of his opponent to consider three Facebook videos in which Năstase calls on the voters to go out and vote for whoever they want as a deviation from the law.

EU Foreign Affairs Ministers concerned about the situation in Moldova: The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council underlined the need to step up reforms in governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment in the six Eastern Partnership countries, reports IPN.

The foreign ministers underlined “the need to step up reforms in areas such as governance, justice, the fight against corruption, economic reform and the business environment”, especially in Moldova.

The new IRI survey is out and it reveals interesting trends: Support for EU membership is slightly increasing, Moldovans are unsatisfied with the pace of change in the country, Dodon’s rating is stagnating (it’s summer though, the President spends more time for trips than for crises of trust in governmental institutions), Democrats are not doing well in polls.

More details and pictures in our article:

IRI Survey: 46% of Moldovans would vote for joining the European Union, 36%- Eurasian Union

One finger thick asphalt:

150 meters of a road in the Varvareuca village in Moldova were paved with one finger asphalt layer. Locals reported that the asphalt can be taken out with the hand. The company in charge already promised to repair the road with its own money. The road reparation was part of the bigger project of the Moldovan Democrats on the village roads.

80/270: Moldova’s Parliament recently approved the agreement on the 80 million euros loan from the EBRD for the electricity interconnection with Romania. The project containing a BtB station in Vulcănești, a 400kV line between Vulcănești and Chișinău, the expansion of the station in Chișinău and the extension of the Vulcănești station to 400 kV.

The investment, partly covered by EIB, EBRD, WB loans and an EU grant, will cost 270 million euros and is expected to be recovered from the transport tariff.

1032,9 minutes: That’s how much time a truck spends on average at the most crowded and most used border checkpoints of Moldova, reads a “Moldova’s trade corridors assessment” report concluded by Nathan Associates and financed by the USAID.

The report shows that the 90% of Moldova’s goods exports rely on the road infrastructure and road transport.  Leușeni-Albița checkpoint at the Moldovan-Romanian border accounts for 23% of the total crossings by delivery trucks. Although recognizing Moldova’s favourable geographical position, the experts underlined that the country lacks transportation and logistics infrastructure that would foster the trade, especially through the Romanian border- where the biggest trade barriers are found. The average waiting time for trucks crossing from Moldova to Romania can be even 16 times longer than in other 23 EU-nonEU border crossings.

Number of trucks crossing the checkpoints

The key issues affecting Moldova’s trade corridors are reported to be: Poor and insufficient infrastructure, Trade facilitation and border delays, Asymmetrical information in markets and lack of information systems, Lack of affordable and sustainable financing.

The authors of the report recommend the following solutions for ensuring the development of Moldova’s trade corridors:

1. Improving the Logistics Sector’s Institutional Effectiveness
2. Ensuring Supportive Policies and Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks
3. Improving Trade Facilitation
4. Developing Efficient and Productive Infrastructure
5. Providing an Efficient Transport Logistics System
6. Facilitating Sustainable Financing
7. Logistics Sector Promotion

We obtained a copy of the report summary.

Rise of illiberal civil society in the former Soviet Union? 

A report of the UK-based Foreign Policy Centre shows a significant of the so-called “illiberal” civil society groups in countries like Moldova.

The pieces on Moldova reveal the groups of “illiberal” thinking:  the far right, conservative groups and the Church, but also the socially conservative (at least, publicly recognized) parties such as the Socialists’ Party.

The authors of the report recommend the respective authorities to:

  • Take urgent measures to tackle corruption and improve transparency;
  •  Investigate attacks on minorities and scrap any partnerships with nationalist groups involved;
  • Protect the ability of liberal civil society groups to operate freely without intimidation;
  • Disband any armed militias affiliated to political parties or extremist groups.

At the same time, the authors argue that the international community should:

  • Increase political pressure and sanctions on the activities of ostensible ‘pro-European’ or ‘liberal’
    allies whose corruption or malpractice brings such principles into disrepute;
  • Insist on action to tackle hate crimes and offer greater support and resources to do so if political
    willingness to act can be ensured;
  • Look for opportunities for diplomatic dialogue with the dominant religious institutions;
  • Continue to refine and improve ‘myth-busting’ and anti-propaganda responses;
  • Support efforts to improve survey and research data about illiberal civil society attitudes;
  • Work with liberal minded NGOs to  find new ways to engage the ‘movable middle’.

56: Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service has identified 56 Moldovan citizens who had been or are working as mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine since the start of the conflict in 2014.

Kozak is back: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak was earlier in the month appointed as the Russian

presidential special representative for developing trade and economic relations with Moldova.

“I hope that he [Kozak] – with his expertise – will be capable of promoting our cooperation substantially,” Putin told Dodon, as quoted by TASS.

Dmitry Kozak is known for his role as a special envoy to Moldova in early 2000s on the Transnistrian issue. Back in 2003, Kozak tried to conclude a memorandum that would define a political settlement to the Transnistrian conflict, a settlement including the federalization of Moldova, seen with high skepticism from Chișinău and the entire right bank.

ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova

ECtHR: Russia found guilty of violating rights to property, remedy of 1646 landowners and 3 companies in Transnistria, Moldova

ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria

ECtHR: Russia guilty of ill-treatment, poor detention conditions of 5 Moldova policemen in Transnistria

“Neutral” number plates for Transnistrian cars: The Moldovan Parliament adopted in the first reading the law on the registration of Transnistrian cars in Moldova. Without paying an import tax, the Transnistrian residents will be able to travel internationally with the help of the so-called “neutral” number plates. They don’t look very neutral though:

Over and out!

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Weekly Roundup: Protests continue in Chișinău, IMF’s third tranche, and NATO’s done with Soviet pesticides

Just a banner from a protest in Chișinău, 1 July 2018

1 July 2018- Here’s another Weekly Roundup. Protests again in Chișinău and many other things…

“Let’s stop the dictator!”: Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Great National Assembly Square on Sunday. They asked for the validation of the results of Chișinău mayor elections, suggesting that the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, obviously bothered by Năstase’s win, influenced the judicial decision. On June 29th, the Central Electoral Commission took the decision to invalidate the results, after Moldova’s Supreme Court annulled the results.

The initial invalidation decision was a claim that 3 Facebook live videos posted by Năstase on election day and calling people to vote allegedly influenced the results.

The protesters were creative on Sunday’s protest too. Sometimes, sadly creative:

“It’s much more profitable for him to victimize himself”- Moldova’s PM Pavel Filip about mayor-elect-not-validated Andrei Năstase (Washington Post).

DW is attempting to call the current protests Moldova’s Maidan. The leader of the protest movement, Andrei Năstase, is denying this designation, underlining the importance of peaceful means of political protesting.

Here’s Atlantic Council with a bunch of opinions on what’s this protest-thingy is all about for Moldova.

Moldova’s Democratic Façade Crumbles as Supreme Court Invalidates Democratic Election: Mihai Popșoi argues for Jamestown Foundation that Plahotniuc’s smokes and mirrors (read: PR and lobby done outside Moldova) used to hide his anti-democratic techniques might take Moldova back into Russia’s orbit, eventually.

Mogherini and Hahn: We expect the Moldovan authorities to take measures ensuring Chișinău election results are respected

According to Mogherini and Hahh, the “non-transparent invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chișinău”, confirmed by Moldova’s Supreme Court on June 25th, “deprives the people of Chișinău of their democratically-elected mayor, Mr. Andrei Năstase(…)”.

The EU officials are asking the Moldovan authorities to take “appropriate measures” to ensure the election results are respected.
(…)we expect the Moldovan authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure that the results of the Chisinau mayoral elections, as recognised also by national and international observers and reflecting the will of the voters, are respected.

Скузаци, вэ рог: The European Commission’s President has apologized after the phrase ‘Moldovan language’ appeared on its website- calling it a “regrettable administrative error”.

Last month, in the section on the Consultation on the Future of Europe, an option allowed readers to select their preferred language of use – including “Romanian language/Moldovan language”. The Romanian vice-president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Andi Cristea, called for the error to be repaired as soon as possible. If only Cristea was more strict with his S&D colleagues, the Moldovan Democrats, as he is with linguistic matters…

“I was informed about fabricated penal charges”: The statement belongs to the UN Human Rights Council expert, Michel Forst, during his visit to the Republic of Moldova. Forst called on the authorities to stop intimidating the human rights defenders and the civil society representatives.

$33,8 million: The IMF approved the review for a new (third in the current programme) disbursement for Moldova.

…the 2018 budget amendment accommodates priority infrastructure needs and other social assistance, consistent with program objectives. Priority spending should be protected, the wage bill should be contained relative to GDP, and budget overruns ahead of the elections should be avoided. (Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair of the IMF Executive Board)

The ECF/EFF arrangements in a total amount of SDR 129,4 million (about US$178,7 million, or 75% of the Republic of Moldova’s quota).

“Transnistria made the first profit from cryptocurrency”: The first mining capacity has already started working, and the government has received its first revenues, prime-minister of the separatist region Alexandr Martynov declared. According to Intellnews, there are multiple sources of revenues: the taxes charged to companies carrying out blockchain mining operations, but also the price of the gas used by the Cuciurgan plant. The latter is reportedly used at its maximum capacity.

1269 tons of Soviet-era chemicals were collected and transported from Moldova for destruction in Poland, with NATO’s support. On 28 June 2018, a NATO-sponsored project focused on the disposal of pesticides and dangerous chemicals in the Republic of Moldova ended.

The last batch of 31 tons of pesticides collected from Sîngerei, Drochia, Edineț districts and Bălţi Municipality were evacuated on the last day from the regional central warehouse from Alexandreni village.

The total cost of the project was 2,2 million euros, covered through a NATO Trust Fund.

Moldovan Church Sidelines Priest In Spat Over LGBT Support: Ghidighici-based priest, Maxim Melinti, was relegated to the role of spectator by the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which banned him indefinitely from officiating services as of June 21, alleging he was “promoting and encouraging sexual minorities and contributing to the development of the LGBT movement in the Republic of Moldova.”

“In me, many have found the man who will understand them and treat them with respect. I do not judge anyone, I just help people get to Christ”, he told reporters at a press conference on June 26. (Radio Free Europe)

Over and out. Come by next week!

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Weekly Roundup: Facebook Live’s influence on election results, UNGA adopts Moldovan resolution, Democrat ambassador to the US

"Stolen vote"

It’s a new Weekly Roundup here, at How much does it influence your opinion?

Facebook Live and independent Moldovan judges: 

The Central branch of the Chișinău court didn’t validate the results of the recent mayoral elections in Moldova’s capital. Thus, the mandate of the mayor-elect Andrei Năstase (won by 52,57% in the 2nd round) was not validated.

Mayor-elect Andrei Năstase

The Chișinău court decision was based on a claim that 3 Facebook live videos posted by Năstase on election day and calling people to vote allegedly influenced the results. The court decided to annul the results based on a complaint filed by the Socialists’ Party, but later even Năstase’s former opponent Ion Ceban declared he wanted the court “just to notice some violations”, not to completely cancel the election results. Despite large protests in the Moldovan capital, the Chișinău Appeal Court maintained the decision of the lower court.

Sunday saw another day of large protests, with more young voters and more innovative slogans coming here and there. The protesters are waiting for Moldova’s Supreme Court of Justice to have its last word, and they showed signs of willing to protests if their democratic will is not heard or “obstructed by political influence” (hint: Democratic Party of Moldova- PDM).

Radio Free Europe has a video of the protesting crowd:

Our Ana Gherciu has some photos of people’s slogans today:

“The face of a disappointed person”

“Sorry, we don’t produce as much as you steal!”

“The people are not like a cow: you milk, it stays silent”

“Today I am in the sun so that he stays at cold” (implied “in the prison”)

Slogans and posters aside, the real questions are not even how much Facebook LIVE videos can influence voting preferences, but something else: How independent is the Moldovan justice system? How desperate are those canceling election results with the help of judges?

Meanwhile, the EU and the US are closely monitoring the judicial process around the Chișinău mayoral election results.

UN General Assembly adopts Moldova’s resolution on withdrawal of “foreign military forces” from its territory:

The resolution calls on the UN Member States to urge the Russian Federation to “complete orderly, unconditionally and without further delay the withdrawal of the Russian Operational Group of Russian Forces” (more commonly known as OGRT or OGRV), in accordance to its commitment agreed at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit, but also the UN Charter. The Russian request to examine to take “no action” on Moldova’s resolution was rejected.

Put to vote, the resolution was adopted with a simple majority of 64 votes in favor, 15 against, and 83 abstentions.

Here’s how the voting went:

More about the resolution here.

Sham coincidences: On June 21st, the Russian Federation told the JCC that the military columns moving last week had the goal to increase security at the munition deposit in Colbasna (some 21 thousand tons of munitions are still stored there since Soviet times) in the wake of possible “terrorist acts and provocative actions” during the World Cup. The JCC could not approve the weekly security report because of disagreement over attaching video proof of the columns to the documents.

22 June, 11 am, NYC time- The UN General Assembly adopts the resolution on the withdrawal of Russian troops- the so-called OGRT- stationed in the Transnistrian region of Moldova.

23 June, 4.00 am to 1.15 pm: Four columns of military vehicles were spotted moving unannounced on the Dubăsari-Grigoriopol-Tiraspol road. Back from Colbasna, apparently.

According to Chișinău, approximately 11 TABs and 25 trucks (URAL, ZIL, UAZ) were moving on the road without any symbols of belonging to either the OGRT or the peacekeeping mission, with number plates missing. Moreover, the columns were accompanied by the Transnistrian “special police forces”.

The Moldovan delegation managed to gather military observers from all the peacekeeping parties. When asked to stop, the military vehicles reportedly did not react in any way.

So, did the World Cup end already? 🙂 is following the case with the OSCE Mission to Moldova, as well.

New Ambassador to the US, now in a “Democrat VP” shape!

Moldova’s new Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Cristina Balan, recently presented the accreditation letter to POTUS, Donald Trump.

Oval Office – Credentialing Ceremony for Newly Appointed Ambassadors to the US Cristina Balan

More skilled in the business sector, Balan has come into the diplomatic mission as a result of the nomination of her party, PDM.

Balan himself is the Vice-President of the Moldovan Democrats and is known to be the right-hand of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc in handling foreign affairs.

More on her profile:

Democrat VP Cristina Balan nominated as Moldova Ambassador to the US

New US Ambassador to Moldova coming soon:

President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Derek J. Hogan of Virginia as US Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova. Rumor says that current Ambassador James D. Pettit is going to retire, needing a replacement.

 While it was hard to find a picture of the future Ambassador to Moldova, it was much easier to find a description of his career:

Mr. Derek J. Hogan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1997.  He is currently Deputy Executive Secretary of the United States Department of State, a position he has held since 2017.  Mr. Hogan is one of the Department of State’s experts on Eastern Europe, having served five tours working in or on Eastern Europe, including Russia.  He has held senior leadership positions both at United States missions overseas and domestically for the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan most recent overseas tours – as Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Azerbaijan from 2013 to 2016 and as the Department of State Representative on the civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern (Uruzgan Province) and Eastern (Kunar Province) Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 – have demonstrated that he possesses the leadership, management, innovation, and communication abilities needed to succeed in complex operating environments.  Mr. Hogan earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  He is the recipient of multiple Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan speaks Russian and Spanish.

We will miss H.E. Pettit for his sharp honesty.

“Energetic” Moldovan-Russian-Romanian spy: Russian news reports say an executive with energy holding

company Inter RAO has been arrested and charged with spying for an unnamed foreign country. The executive is Karina Turcan, a Moldovan national, who is accused by Russian FSB for spying for the Romanian intelligence.

Turcan oversaw electricity trades in parts of Eastern Europe, including Moldova, reports Radio Free Europe and Rosbalt.

MoldovaAgroindbank slice goes to the EBRD: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it would take part, together with two private equity firms, Invalda and Horizon Capital, in an auction to buy a 41,09 percent stake in Moldova’s largest commercial bank, Moldova Agroindbank. (Reuters)

Over and out.

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