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Resolution on “enhanced relations”, support for Moldova’s territorial integrity registered with the US Congress

20 February 2018- North Carolina’s Representative David Price and Texas’ Peter Olson registered Resolution Nr. 745 in the United States House of Representatives, with reference to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The resolution titled “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to enhanced relations with the Republic of Moldova and support for Moldova’s territorial integrity” acknowledges the “stable and positive relations” between Moldova and US, the need to implement reforms and fight corruption in Moldova, the Association Agreement with the EU, the European aspirations. Moreover, the authors give special attention to Russia’s embargo on Moldovan wine and fruits, as well as Russia’s military and political presence in the Transnistrian region.

The resolution reaffirms the US support for Moldova’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Moldova, calling on Russia to withdraw its military forces and munitions from within the internationally recognized territory of Moldova but also to refrain from issuing economic threats or exerting pressure against Moldova and to cease any and all actions that support separatist movements within the territory of Moldova.

Interestingly enough, one of the authors of the resolution, Republican Pete Olson, met with the chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vlad Plahotniuc, less than a month ago:

Picture of US Congressman Peter Olson and Democratic chairman Vlad Plahotniuc, with Moldova’s Parliament Speaker and Deputy PM, Source: Vlad Plahotniuc

According to the given resolution, the US House of Representatives:

(1) reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Moldova and the inviolability of its borders by other countries;
(2) supports the Strategic Dialogue as a means to strengthen relations between Moldova and the United States and enhance the democratic, economic, governance, and security reforms already being undertaken by Moldova;
(3) encourages the President, the Secretary of State, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, to enhance United States partnerships with the Government, private sector, and civil society of Moldova and to focus United States assistance on supporting reforms that strengthen the justice sector, bolster democratic institutions, promote an open and transparent government, foster indigenous independent media and an open information environment, diversify energy supplies, increase energy security, and promote inclusive economic growth by focusing on the rural areas beyond the capital, enhancing investment opportunities, and increasing trade and job creation;
(4) encourages Moldova to continue implementing crucial reforms to ensure good governance, increase the capacity of and trust in democratic institutions, and strengthen the justice sector through anti-corruption efforts, transparency, tolerance, support for the rule of law, and maintaining open space for civil society to operate;
(5) reaffirms the importance of and support for free, fair, and transparent elections in Moldova;
(6) encourages the President to expedite the implementation of Public Law 113–96, especially for populations in Ukraine and Moldova;
(7) supports efforts to counter disinformation campaigns in Eastern Europe in ways that are consistent with democratic principles;
(8) affirms Moldova’s sovereign right to determine its own partnerships free of external coercion and pressure, and affirms Moldova’s right to associate with the European Union or any regional organization;
(9) calls upon the Government of the Russian Federation to fulfill its commitments made at the Istanbul summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1999 and to withdraw its military forces and munitions from within the internationally recognized territory of Moldova;
(10) calls upon the Government of the Russian Federation to refrain from issuing economic threats or exerting pressure against Moldova and to cease any and all actions that support separatist movements within the territory of Moldova;
(11) supports a results-oriented 5+2 negotiations process as the only channel for resolving the territorial conflict between the Government of Moldova and the leadership of the Transnistria region;
(12) supports efforts to resolve the Transnistria issue through a comprehensive settlement that secures Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, while providing a special status for the Trans­nis­tri­an region within Moldova;
(13) urges all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that may undermine efforts to achieve a peace­ful resolution or jeopardize agreements already reached, and encourages leaders of the Transnistrian region and the Moldovan Government to continue negotiations toward a political settlement; and
(14) affirms that lasting stability and security in Moldova is a key priority for the United States and that these can only be achieved if the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Moldova and all other European countries are respected.

Important

2018 World Press Freedom Index: Moldova down to position 81

2 May 2018- Reporters without Borders (RSF) published their 2018 index of freedom of the press around the world.

The ranking of 2018 places Moldova on the 81st place, 1 position down compared to 2017 (80) with a score of 30,41 (-0,40).

RSF did not change its position on the media ownership and polarization in Moldova:

Moldova’s media are diversified but extremely polarized, like the country itself, which is characterized by chronic instability and the excessive influence of its oligarchs. The editorial line of the leading media outlets correlates closely with the political and business interests of their owners. Journalistic independence and media ownership transparency are major challenges. As media outlets battle with each other in a climate exacerbated by the Ukrainian crisis, the broadcasting regulatory authority’s lack of independence and excesses in the “fight against propaganda” continue to be a source of concern.

Romania was ranked 44th with 23,65 points, Ukraine 101st with 31,16 points, while Russia 148th with 49,96 points.

According to RSF, the freest media can be found in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland. The countries with the worst media freedom ranking are Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan.

The RSF underlines in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index that the global situation of the press is worsening, especially in Europe:

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Society

4 years after visa liberalization: 1,46 million Moldovans traveled without a visa to EU

Source: IPN, Elena Covalenco

28 April 2018- 4 years ago, the European Union introduced a visa-free regime for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova.

According to the Border Police of Moldova, 1 469 917 Moldovan citizens used the visa-free facility. Out of these, 1 168 000 citizens came back to Moldova (the other 300 thousand could be still traveling (23 April- reporting date), residing based on a permit or having entered EU with an EU passport).

Most of the Moldovans crossed the border at Leușeni-Albița checkpoint (562 076 persons), followed by the Chișinău International Airport (273 300), Cahul-Oancea (256 307) and Sculeni-Sculeni (217 896). The Chișinău International Airport registers more crossings than ever: 1 535 937 people traveled to EU with their biometric passport. Men cross (2,4 million) the border to EU more often than women (1,8 million), while people aged between 26 and 35 are the most active at EU traveling across the age groups.

IPN quotes the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders that since the visa regime with the EU was liberalized on April 28, 2014, until December 31, 2017, slightly over 14,000 Moldovans were refused entry to the EU because they didn’t meet the entrance conditions, had insufficient financial resources or stayed longer than allowed in the Member States.

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Justice

Justice Minister: Moldova has an inter-state conflict with Russia on the control of Transnistria

12 April 2018- The Justice Minister of Moldova, Victoria Iftodi, has participated at the Ministerial Conference in Denmark where more than 20 Justice Ministers adopted the Copenhagen Declaration. The latter voices the concerns of the overload of cases over at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and proposes recommendations.

Iftodi reportedly motivated that the overload of the ECtHR shows the necessity to reform the national system of justice and its performance in the remedy of human rights violations. The Justice Minister emphasized the need to ensure the universality of the human rights to an equal extent in the inter-state areas:

“The Republic of Moldova is confronted with a situation of inter-state conflict with the Russian Federation. As the European Court of Human Rights repeatedly stated, the Republic of Moldova does not exercise an effective control in the occupied territories. Appealing to the ECtHR remains to be the sole efficient method of remedy of the violations of fundamental rights of residents of those territories”, declared Iftodi.

The European Convention for Human Rights entered into force on 12 September 1997 in Moldova.

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