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.
Chișinău and Tiraspol sign protocols to solve issues of Latin script schools, telecommunication, diploma recognition and land ownership
On November 25th, the political negotiators of the Republic of Moldova and the separatist Transnistrian administration met in Bender to discuss technical issues ahead of the upcoming 5+2 negotiations in Vienna.
Accompanied by 5+2 mediators and observers, Reintegration Minister George Balan and the so-called “foreign minister” Vitalyi Ignatiev signed 4 protocols elaborated at the expert groups level. The protocols focus on 4 key issues:
- Recognition of diplomas issued by education institutions in the Transnistrian region– the parties agreed to Chișinău accepting (apostillation) a neutral diploma issued in Transnistria;
- Elimination of barriers in the telecommunication domain- establishing a direct connection of fixed and the mobile telephone network, as well as internet, after the negotiations between operators on both banks of Nistru river;
- Elimination of barriers to the functioning of Romanian language (Latin script) schools in Transnistria- setting minimal rent and utility prices for the buildings rented out to these schools, setting 10 years as the minimal rent period for the buildings, providing the adjacent lands in use to the schools, providing conditions for free movement of teachers and pupils of these schools, but also the needed materials for their functioning;
- Allowing farmers to use their lands across Tiraspol-Camenca road in Dubăsari district- applying the “2006 Mechanism” of distributing the lands to those persons owning them initially, stopping the use of lands by Transnistrian firms or persons (2014 distribution), stopping the penal cases against the latter by Chișinău.
Solutions to these problems are expected to be delivered by the joint expert groups.
2017 Eastern Partnership Summit ends: EU encourages EaP countries to continue reforms, acknowledges “European choice” of MD, UA, GE
Representatives of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the representatives of the European Union and the Heads of State or Government and representatives of its Member States have met in Brussels on 24 November 2017. During their meeting, they agreed on a joint declaration on the Eastern Partnership.
The declaration, however, does not bring new dimensions to the Eastern Partnership. Everyone reconfirmed their commitment and the high importance they attach to the Partnership. The EU, in particular, reaffirmed its commitment to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all its partners- a hint on Ukraine’s hybrid war with Russia. Due to the fact that 5 out of 6 EaP countries have such problems, the Summit participants called for renewed efforts to promote the peaceful settlement of unresolved conflicts, though not named in the declaration, in the region on the basis of international law.
In the declaration, the European Union and its Member States acknowledged the European aspirations and European choice of partners who signed association agreements with the EU, namely Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine; while recognizing the right for other partners to choose the level of ambition they aspire to in their relations with the EU. Some compared these statements as being too similar to those from the Riga Summit in 2015.
The 20 deliverables for 2020 framework was welcomed as the way to improve the lives of citizens of the Eastern European states in four priority areas with a focus on good governance, better transport links, energy security, independent media and people mobility.
The European Council President, Donald Tusk, made it clear that the Eastern Partnership will develop on both economic and societal dimensions:
“We want to reinforce Eastern Partnership cooperation in a number of specific areas such as small and medium-sized enterprises, digital economy, broadband investments, and investments in transport, energy and infrastructure projects. The list is long. But above all, we want to strengthen links between our citizens and give more support to civil society”, said Tusk, alongside with Estonia’s PM Juri Ratas and EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker at the closing press conference.
In the margins of the summit, the EU and Armenia signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, as well as an Aviation Agreement.
Moldova’s Prime-Minister Pavel Filip underlined that this EaP Summit was important for all the partners to reevaluate the partnership, its aims, and its future. According to him, the Partnership is very important for Moldova in this critical period of difficult reforms unpopular decisions. However, at the arrival in the morning, Filip, did not approach the journalists and just passed them smiling, as compared to representatives of other states.
The EaP was launched in 2009 to promote the political association and economic integration between the EU and the six Eastern European partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
New round of 5+2 talks to take place in Vienna during November 27-28
A new round of 5+2 negotiations will take place in Vienna during November 27-28. The information was communicated to IPN by Moldova’s Minister for Reintegration and chief negotiator, George Balan, who received the invitation on the afternoon of November 14th.
According to Balan, Moldova’s proposals for the agenda of the 5+2 meeting will include the “Berlin plus” package (Berlin protocol): the problem of access to farmlands, the situation of Latin script Romanian-language schools, and the movement of vehicles registered in the Transnistrian region.
The invitation was reportedly made by the mediators to the Transnistrian conflict settlement talks Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE.
5+2 negotiations regard the talks on the conflict resolution between the separatist authorities of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic and the constitutional authorities of the Republic of Moldova, together with the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine as mediators, and the EU and the US as observers.
The latest round of the 5+2 talks was held in Bavaria in July 2016.
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