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

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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.

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

Important

Debates at the European Parliament: “We have not seen progress from Moldova”

A report evaluating the implementation of the Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union was debated in the European Parliament on 13 November. According to the report, our country is opposed to fundamental values related to democratic standards, and MEPs would continue to call for the cessation of financial assistance until significant progress on democratic standards has been made.

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The European Union has invested over a billion euros in the last ten years alone in order to develop the Moldovan democracy and reforms, yet it always risks to be compromised.

The Moldovan authorities declared themselves pro-European though ceased almost irreversible to authoritarian reflexes: cancellation of the results of the mayoral elections, limitation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, obstruction of the right to access to information, suspicious arrests of opposition activists. This way of governing is kicking our country further from the EU.

Here is an infographic created by cprmd, which shows how much was recovered from the $1 billion theft.

Panoul miliardului

#PANOULMILIARDULUIPentru că nu suntem satisfăcuți de calitatea informației prezentate de Ministerul Finantelor al Republicii Moldova în panoul lor, aici vă propunem un alt panou care, în opinia noastră, nu manipulează. Suntem în al patrulea an de investigații și cam atâtea active s-au recuperat până acum din furtul bancar. Tabelul prezentat de Ministerul Finanțelor, deși este numit ”recuperarea activelor fraudate”, oferă informație despre procesul de lichidare a celor trei bănci falimentate. Chiar dacă se înregistrează venituri din lichidarea băncilor prin vânzarea activelor fixe ale acestora, miliardul rămâne furat, furtul rămâne neinvestigat, iar activele furate – nerecuperate. În trecut am făcut un apel către Ministerul Finanțelor să corecteze informația prezentată (aici: http://bit.ly/2qtvuRE), iar incorectitudinea informației prezentate de Minister a fost demonstrată în repetate rânduri (de exemplu, aici: http://bit.ly/2qELNKH). Cu toate acestea, Ministerul insistă că panoul prezentat pe situl instituției nu reprezintă informație eronată. Este îngrijorător faptul că unele instituții oferă publicului informații ”oficiale”, dar false.

Geplaatst door CPR Moldova – Centrul de Politici și Reforme op Dinsdag 14 november 2017

According to European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, even though Moldova has made progress on an economic level, the European Union is worried about several issues, such as ensuring free elections, the independence of media institutions, the freedom of expression of civil society, and respect for the rule of law.

“In all working contexts with the Moldovan authorities I have drawn attention to the need to continue the reforms. We look forward to immediate urgent action to tackle bank fraud, the fight against high-level corruption and the need to ensure that the next parliamentary elections are done fairly and freely. Unfortunately, we have not seen progress from Moldova in order to respond to our concerns. The EU remains committed to the Republic of Moldova and is expecting the same level from Moldova. I would point out that the EU will continue to provide assistance to Moldovan citizens,” the European Commissioner said.

Moreover, Hahn declared that because of the lack of commitment from the Chisinau authorities, it is proposed to only support items that bring benefits directly to citizens.

“Sometimes I have the impression that people claim to be pro-European, pro-Western, but when it comes to facts, I don’t see how these European values are applied. We have to make decisions in the context in which almost all of our recommendations have not been respected,” concluded Johannes Hahn.

Reminder: In this report, the Committee of Foreign Affairs particularly emphasizes its concerns about:

1. Elections (!)

The electoral reform is not in line with the recommendations of the OCSE and the Venice Commission, the recent cancellation of local elections for the mayor of Chisinau on dubious motives, pressure on opposition leaders or local authorities, the financing of excessive and non-transparent parties.

2. The rule of law

There is a lack of independence of the judiciary, the influence of business interests and political leaders, limited progress in combating corruption – including through recent tax reforms that may increase the risk of money laundering – and prosecution of all those responsible for defrauding the $1 billion bank or large-scale money laundering, disproportionate criminal proceedings against political opponents, lawyers and / or their families, as well as human rights defenders, independent judges, journalists and critics of the Chisinau authorities.

3. The media and civil society

The media and advertising market is monopolized, independent news stories have weakened, the new audiovisual code has been implemented late, there have been attempts to limit the freedom of action and the discrediting of civil society representatives.

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Security

Defense Minister Sturza: Moldova could host a joint military exercise with NATO

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Moldovan Defense Minister Eugen Sturza declared that he had talks with the North Atlantic Alliance on behalf of the organization of a joint military exercise on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. The exercise could take place at Bulboaca Training Center. The statement was made at the TV show “Fabrika” at Publika TV, IPN reports.

Eugen Sturza believes that the Bulboaca Center is becoming an ultramodern center with state-of-the-art application infrastructure and that the Moldovan participation in military exercises is massive.

Source: army.md

“The Republic of Moldova did not host exercises in 2004 and this would be an important step for the country,” the minister said.

The official says he is having talks with development partners in order to extend geographically military participation and to make Moldovan soldiers interoperable with other country’s military.

According to him, it’s necessary for Moldovan soldiers to gain experience from the states that participated in armed conflicts.

“We have no need to accumulate this experience but through our joint exercises,” the defense minister said.

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Important

Moldova’s mass migration – the main trigger for the economic and demographic decline

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People leave Moldova every day. Nowadays, not only young people leave the country, but elder ones do it as well. It is also the case for Serafima Gherman – a former biology and chemistry teacher, who decided to leave her home country and to head for Milano, Italy.

Our colleagues from Moldova.org spent the day before she left at her place while she was preparing her luggage for leaving. She seems to be down in the mouth. So many years spent in this house…

When Serafima was young she dreamed to become an artist. She secretly applied at the musical college. Her voice was wonderful. When her father, who was a doctor, got to know, he gave her a good beating and told her that the big stages would handle it somehow without her. So, she studied at a technical college and graduated the Pedagogical University from Tiraspol being married with 2 children.  Together with her husband, she built a big house and raised the children. A few years ago her husband passed away. It seems like it was only yesterday.

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Serafima Gherman in her house

Sitting on the floor, she tried to put her thoughts in order and to arrange her belongings in the luggage. First, she was wondering if the pieces of frozen meat, packages of parsley, lovage and traditional cheese made from sheep milk will fit into the blue valise next to her. She was aware that the place she goes to is full of cheese and meat of any kind, but she also knew that the home-made food can’t be compared to anything. And then, she didn’t know how much time it will take until returning home. What if the meat rots?

The next thing Serafima took care for were her clothes, carefully arranged in a plastic bag, as well as her medicines. Still, it was too much stuff. Her grandson assured her that all the things that don’t fit in the valise will be brought by his mom, Serafima’s daughter, next time when she comes to Moldova. She also lives and works in Italy.

Serafima looked around one more time. She checked the papers and the medicines to not forget anything, and started to slowly move to the kitchen. She was crying. “It is very hard, living my entire life in one place and taking to the road now, when I am old. Who will take care of my house while I am gone?” she asked herself. Everything is left behind: a small house with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and the most important, a sparkly clean living room called in Romanian “casa mare”. Nobody lives in there. It’s for guests.

She sadly inspected the yard that has the softest and the greenest grass ever. Once it was full of hungry poultry: geese, ducks, chickens. Now it is so silent. All of them were slaughtered one after another as there was nobody who could take care of them while she was visiting her daughter in Italy.

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Serafima with her daughter, Angela

She never thought of being always on the road. Her heart was always weak and then the problems with blood pressure appeared. So, she had to travel a lot: from the local hospital in Brânzenii Vechi to the district hospital in Telenești, and then to Chișinău. Nobody knew what the health issue was. Only when her daughter Angela bought her a ticket to Italy, the physicians discovered the small intestine cancer. After long beggings from her daughter, Serafima accepted to be operated. In Italy, she got her residence permit and the papers for obtaining the 100% degree of disability, as she was hardly able to move and was in poor health. Now she must go to the doctor regularly. “I have to leave for a new consult. It happens every couple of months. I can’t be taken care of in my own country.”

It has been going on for several years now. And she cries every time. Her house fell into disrepair while it is so comfortable and nice in Italy, but so foreign. It’s like there is no life for her in that world.

She was wearing her favourite floral pink dress and a wool cardigan, as it was already quite cold. Leaning on her walking stick, Serafima slowly walked to the gateway, where a car was already waiting for her to take her to the airport in Chișinău. All she could do more was to ask her neighbour to come and check the house from time to time. Nobody knew when she would return, maybe after a couple of months, maybe in summer. Her grandson Liviu helped her with the luggage and nodded affirmatively while receiving indications from his grandma: “Buy some poison against mice and spread it in the corners and under the bed. Move that gas tank in the garage. I don’t want it to be stolen!”

They arrived at the airport and headed directly to the check-in desk. The luggage was already given, the check-in done, and a wheel chair was waiting for Serafima. Tears filled her eyes again. She hugged her beloved grandson and let herself to be guided to the departure gate. There were some other old people that were waiting to be boarded. Most probably they also flown to visit their children.

Republic of Moldova loses her citizens in a matter of hours. Namely, every hour four people leave the country seeking for a better life, according to BBC. In 2017 only, the number of persons over 15 years old that were established abroad for work purposes reached 318.4 thousand, out of which 20.2 thousand are persons aged over 55, as the official data by the National Statistical Office of Moldova states. In case the trend continues, it could lead to a demographic and economic collapse.

Featured image source: lufthansa.com
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