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2017 Eastern Partnership Summit ends: EU encourages EaP countries to continue reforms, acknowledges “European choice” of MD, UA, GE

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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.

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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The Citizenship by Investment Program in Moldova – embracing great opportunities or risks?

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Dubai, November 5th – The Citizenship by Investment Program in the Republic of Moldova was officially launched at the 12th annual Global Residence and Citizenship Conference in Dubai. Since the very first moment when the legislative initiative was registered in the Parliament (December 2016), the law of citizenship by investment gained support, along with a lot of criticism. The government presented the program as an opportunity to attract new investments, whereas the opposition and some experts argued that granting citizenship to foreign investors involves major risks to the state security and could affect the liberalized visa regime with the EU, as reported by Ziarul de Gardă.

The law adoption outlines

The law of citizenship by investment was adopted and promulgated in record time without waiting the results of the anti-corruption expertise report published by the National Anticorruption Centre (NAC). One week after the final voting of the bill, the results of NAC report stated that “the promoted interests through the law of citizenship by investment are detrimental to the public interest, and imply major risks to the safety and security of the citizens and the state of the Republic of Moldova, , in the context of the emigration crisis in EU and the global terrorism threat.”

In March 2018, the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure (MEI) has published a decision to amend the Regulation on Acquisition of Citizenship by Investment. According to the Transparency International Moldova experts,  the changes to the selection procedure of candidates for granting citizenship were made without public debates and a preliminary notification. The procedure was simplified by omitting the governmental institutions from the examination process.

A series of law amendments came next, enabling the persons who would obtain the Moldovan citizenship by investment to be exempted from the obligation to know the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova and to speak the Romanian language. Moreover, the name and other personal data of the candidates would be kept in secret, only the applicant file number being published.

The ex-president of the Parliamentary Commission for national security, defence and public order, Roman Boţan, qualified the amendments as doubtful. “It’s strange that the names of the candidates for granting the Moldovan citizenship by investment is concealed. It is plausible that such investments could come from fraud, and premises of decriminalizing illegal assets could be created,” declared Boţan.

Vlad Ţurcanu, a political commentator and a former presidential adviser, mentioned that the relationship Moldova – EU could be negatively affected in the light of a non-transparent citizenship granting process. Furthermore, such problematic future citizens could create crises which would be very hard to be managed by the Moldovan institutions.

In July 2018, MEI signed a partnership contract with the Moldovan Investment Company (MIC) Holding and with Henley & Partners Government Services Ltd. The stated scope of the contract was the development, implementation and international promotion of the Citizenship by Investment Program. The official MIC Holding website presents neither the name of the founding persons or companies nor the contact address of the holding.

MEI signing the partnership contract with the MIC Holding| Source: mei.gov.md

The Henley & Partners Government Services Ltd appears in an investigation article written by The Guardian that presents the company as doing business with ‘golden’ passports.  “For a few hundred thousand dollars, the right passport, from the right place, can get its owner into almost any country,” is stated in the article. The company was involved in the Maltese program of citizenship by investments and was accused of intimidating the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The journalist examined the scheme of offering the Maltese citizenship but was assassinated in October 2017.

The Henley & Partners’ perspective

In an interview for Newsmaker, the president of Henley & Partners, Christian Kälin and the Group Public Relations Director at Henley & Partners, Paddy Blewer talked about the candidate selection process of Moldovan citizenship granting and the benefits of the program.

First, it is important to mention that the Henley & Partners company, as a part of the MIC Holding, is responsible for the consultancy and the strategy implementation for the Moldovan Citizenship by Investment Program.

When asked about the possible applicants for the Citizenship by Investment Program, Christian Kälin clarified that they would be wealthy people that want to enlarge their possibilities of traveling and moving around the world.

“It is not about a Russian oligarch with lots of money and relationships in the political world. It is more about an UAE citizen who is not sure he wants to stay in his country in the next 15 years or an American citizen that can’t enter an Arabic country using his American passport and needs the second citizenship for security reasons.”

According to Kälin, the applicants would be interested in being protected and moving around, not tax evasion. He admitted that among the beneficiaries of the program could be not well-intended people: “It’s like in the bank. There are thousands of clients and among them there could be 5,7,10 delinquents. Still, that’s not a reason for the bank to cease its activity.”

“The most important benefit for a country that implements a program of citizenship by investment is the possibility to attract new investments,” as Paddy Blewer stated. In the case of the Republic of Moldova there is a possibility, at the moment, to invest in the Public Investment Fund. The law of citizenship by investment stipulates for now only the opportunity of real estate investments, according to Christian Kälin. He also added that the real estate sector is a key one in the economy of any country and that most programs of granting citizenship in return for investment provide such a component. “Real estate investments have a considerable positive effect on the economy of a country. They increase the number of transactions and develop the construction industry. The real estate sector has many intersections with other sectors of the economy. Thus, it will be a driver of job creation,” said Kälin.

According to the officials’ declarations at the Moldova Business Week of this year, the industries that should have priority when it comes to investments in Moldova are the tourism and information technologies sectors. Also, the automotive and manufacturing industries need the government’s support in order to be developed as the country’s strategical sectors.

The expert’s perspective

The expert and activist Sergiu Tofilat explained for Moldova.org several important aspects regarding the law of citizenship by investment. First, “some European countries are trying to attract investment by selling citizenship. Such programs are interesting for wealthy people who want to be able to travel visa-free in the EU and the US, who would like to easily open bank accounts in western banks,” said Tofilat. He highlighted the serious issues in verifying the source of the ‘invested’ money for acquiring citizenship, but also national security issues when different criminals or terrorists get foreign citizenship.

In case of the Republic of Moldova, “there are problems related to politically subordinate justice, labour shortages, the lack of predictability of public policies as when the government changes the law, and this affects the business environment that can’t plan its activity for at least 3-5 years,” as Tofilat mentioned. Taking into consideration these circumstances, “the Citizenship by Investment program raises suspicions of money laundering, especially since nothing of the stolen billion has been recovered,” stated Tofilat. He indicated that the program in question must be analysed together with the so-called tax amnesty law, which allows the legalization of any dirty money for a 6% tax. “As a result, the beneficiaries of the bank fraud can decriminalize their money through certain foreign citizens who will receive citizenship by granting loans to the Moldovan Government, after which the new Moldovan citizens will benefit from the tax amnesty,” explained Tofilat.

“The authorities stated that the objective of the citizenship program is to attract foreign investments in Moldova. It is absurd to believe that foreign investors queue up for investing their money in Moldova and that getting citizenship is the biggest obstacle for them.”

According to the Tofilat’s opinion, “a special attention should be paid to the dangerous similarities of the Moldovan program with the programs in Hungary and Malta.” Just as in the case of Hungary, the names of those who will receive the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova will be classified under the pretext of protecting their personal data.

An international inquiry from September 2018 revealed that especially Russian officials are interested in receiving the Hungarian citizenship for being able to travel without any visa and to leave Russia in case they need it.  “It’s the case of Russian deputies, heads of state-owned enterprises, and even Serghei Naryshkin’s family, the head of the Russian espionage service, who received the citizenship of Hungary. This happened despite the fact that some officials appear on international sanctions lists,” specified Tofilat.

Featured image source: anticoruptie.md

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Derek J. Hogan: Russia may get involved in the upcoming Moldovan parliamentary elections // VIDEO

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The Russian Federation may be involved in the Moldovan parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019. The statement was made on Tuesday, December 11, by the US Ambassador to Moldova, Derek J. Hogan, during an official visit to the city Balti, writes Nordnews.md.

The US diplomat met with deputies Gennady Shmulschii and Lilia Sava.

In addition to representatives of the local public administration, Hogan also met with representatives of political parties in the territory.

“I do understand that you’re on the eve of the parliamentary elections and so I wanted to know how the process is going on here,” said Derek J. Hogan.

Derek J. Hogan has also mentioned that it is possible for the Russian Federation to intervene in the elections of February 24, 2019, just as it happened in the United States in 2016.

“We believe that the involvement in a country’s internal affairs is not a rarity. As you  already know, this has also happened in the US and we believe that it is very likely to happen here as well. So, we work very actively with authorities and political parties in order to inform them about our experience,” the US diplomat noted.

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Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova has accepted the offer to join the ACUM resistance movement

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A couple of days ago, Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP) leader Andrei Nastase declared that the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM) and the Liberal Party (PL) should not participate in the parliamentary elections in February 2019. Instead, some of the exponents of the two Formations could be found on the Block List “ACUM” and in some constituencies. Moreover, Nastase asserted that his party and Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) will not negotiate anything with LDPM and PL representatives, as the electoral bloc will not “expand” under any circumstances.

Today, despite the statements of Andrei Năstase, LDPM vice-president Ion Terguţă announced on his Facebook page that his party will join the ACUM resistance movement.

“LDPM has accepted the offer ACUM. There will be fire.”

It seems that the decision was taken today at the meeting of the LDPM National Political Council. Thus, the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova will participate in the elections of 24 February in the composition of the ACUM block, which includes the PAS and DTPP parties.

Image result for acum resistenta

Source: DW

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