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The case for a Moldovan MEP

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“Where is Moldova?”- a commonly asked question everywhere East of Bucharest, and also a British board game. Few know about the existence of the Republic of Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic which got its independence in 1991 and is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.

If one happens to know where is Moldova, it is for a bad reason. It is currently competing with Ukraine for the position of the poorest country in Europe with a GDP per capita hovering somewhere around $5000 per capita (PPP). It constantly comes up as a top origin country for trafficked persons in the US Department of State reports. Around 1 billion US dollars, or one-eighth of its GDP, were taken out of the country’s three banks during 2013-2014 through high-risk loans with the help of EU-based shell companies. It still illegally hosts around 1400 Russian troops on its territory and has not achieved an effective political deal for more than 27 years with a separatist republic in its East. Moldova is also a country with one of the fastest shrinking population in the world and one of the biggest shares of remittances in the GDP. Other than the Epic Sax Guy, Ozone’s “Dragostea din Tei”, and the recently rediscovered wine culture, Moldova is not recognized for good in Europe.

Its recent political successes in foreign policy are limited to three major developments in the relations with the EU: the visa-free regime for Moldovan citizens, the Association Agreement, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). These developments have not only created a framework of cooperation with the EU in areas ranging from rule of law and democratization to market rules and migration but also allowed Moldovan citizens and companies to explore the European Union. Since 2014, around 1,5 million citizens (in a country of 2,9 million) are reported to have traveled to the EU, and the Moldovan companies increased their exports to the EU by at least 10%. In the meantime, the EU also managed to become Moldova’s most important trade and investment partner, overcoming the CIS market by three times in trade value. It is a reality now that the EU is more engaged politically and economically in Moldova than Russia.

But Moldova’s presence in the EU is visible more often in another form: over 600 thousand Moldovans holding the Romanian citizenship. As a result of Romania’s efforts to reintegrate citizens from former Soviet-occupied Romanian territories, more and more Moldovan citizens, mostly Romanian-speaking ones, have started to obtain (or re-obtain, as officially stated) Romanian citizenship for various reasons. After easily proving family roots in the pre-1945 Romania, Moldovans thus could regain their official status of ethnic Romanians, could visit their lost families in current Romania, and, last but not least, travel and work freely in the EU. It has been argued that the latter has been a major motivation for obtaining a Romanian passport, even for those who don’t necessarily identify themselves as ethnic Romanians. This motivation is occasionally criticized in both Romania and Moldova, but one thing is certain: the actions of the “little man” should not be judged and rather be viewed from a very rational perspective in the poorest of Europe’s regions. Consider this: the lack of interest of Moldovan Romanians in Romania’s public life and Romanian politics does worry many “mainland” Romanians. But this assumption does not hold any longer.

At least 2 Moldova-born legislators were elected in Romania’s bicameral parliament, over 30 thousand Moldovans used the ballot box (in Moldova) in the last Parliamentary and Presidential elections to express their voice in Romania’s politics, tens of thousands of Moldovans live and pay taxes in Romania. Most recently, the political integration of Moldovans in Romania has gone to the next level: the European level. Moldova’s former PM Iurie Leancă (whose premiership witnessed the massive bank frauds) is now the third candidate in the list of Pro România, following ex-PM Victor Ponta and the outgoing Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu. With a failed political career back in Moldova, Leancă has the greatest chance of becoming the first Moldovan MEP in EU’s history, considering Ponta and Crețu’s potential comeback to Romanian domestic politics. Another Moldovan on an EP election list is Daniela Șerban, capital markets professional, but the chances of her getting an MEP seat are quite low, despite Alianța 2020’s potential high score on 26 May.

It has to be said that Moldovan do not vote only for other Moldovans in Romania. People’s Movement led by Ukraine-born Eugen Tomac has maintained appeal amongst Moldovan Romanians due to the policy of reintegration and assistance formerly promoted by ex-President Traian Băsescu in regards to Moldovans and the Republic of Moldova. Băsescu might win his MEP seat largely thanks to the support of Moldovans. Although not able to integrate Moldovan Romanians in their EP election lists, the traditional Social-Democrats and National Liberals are likely to gather support in Moldova only with the help of party links with the governing Democrats and the opposition ACUM bloc in Moldova.

Voter turnout numbers from 26 May will show whether the Moldovan Romanians feel relevant to raise their voice in the second biggest election in the world. More importantly, it will reveal (or reconfirm) a relatively new aspect of the changing EU polity: its permeability for voters who have never lived in the EU but are nevertheless attracted to its norms and prosperity.

On the other side of the “fence”, the EU has to embrace Moldova and Moldovans now more than ever. This deepening of the relations should not happen at the expense of the reform conditionality on EU’s help, nor should it be seen as a geopolitical challenge to Russia. Overlooking the slow progress of reforms has led to the demise of the Eastern Partnership’s “success story” and the democratic backsliding in Moldova’s political system, where the ambiguously “pro-EU” government does not bother cooperating with the “pro-Russian” systemic opposition on the basis of power-sharing.

Overlooking Moldova now would be a mistake the EU could not afford. Overlooking Moldovan Romanians would be something the EU could not avoid. Moldovans might integrate faster into the EU than their own Republic.

Important

Democrats leave government to the new coalition

The decision was taken after today’s National Political Council of the Plahotniuc’s party, announced Vladimir Cebortari, vice-president of the DPM.

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According to Cebotari, DPM’s decision is a clear signal that the Democratic Party no longer holds power in the country.

“However, our decision will not solve the constitutional blockade,” Cebotari said.

“Regardless of what solutions will be found, as long as we have the decisions of the CC in place, the Government that will be installed will operate illegally, and the officials of the institutions will not be legally able to execute the decisions of such a Government and will be in a situation of legal risk. That is why final elections will be reached, as it’s the only way to solve the crisis created by the binomial Socialist Party–’ACUM’ bloc legally and completely,” finalized the DPM vice-president.

Vladimir Cebotari said that the next move on behalf of the DPM should be expected. However, it might be way too early to call it good news just yet.

Two days ago, the leaders of the bloc ‘ACUM’ Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase asked the Moldovan citizens to come to Parliament for the  “march of the people” on Sunday, June 16th. President Igor Dodon, too, called on the country’s citizens and his supporters to participate in the march, in support of the new government.

Maia Sandu warned that “the Plahotniuc regime will do everything in its power to prevent citizens from coming to the march of the people. They will try to stop public transport, threaten drivers, block the streets.”

“Prepare yourself! Come early, come to your relatives’s place and stay overnight in town. Offer car seats to those who wish, but don’t have the possibility to join. They stop the cars? We walk! They will hear our every step and see that Moldova doesn’t belong to them, but to the people and children of Moldova,” said Maia Sandu at the press conference.

She addressed all police officers who refuse to obey to Plahotniuc’s orders as well as those responsible for national security and citizens to maintain public order and ensure that no citizen of this country would suffer.

Will Plahotniuc’s remaining army find ways to prevent the event from happening? How many of Moldova’s remaining people will attend the rally? That’s for us to find out on the coming Sunday.

Rebranding of DPM’s logo: Constantin Șarcov

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Cristina Balan, the Moldovan ambassador to the US and former DPM vice-president, is ignoring new MFA’s recall for consultations in Chisinau

Moldovan Ambassador to the US Cristina Balan ignored the order of the new Moldovan Foreign Minister in the Government of Maia Sandu, Nicu Popescu, in which she was asked to present herself no later than today, June 14, 2019, at 3 pm, for consultations in Chisinau.

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According to Nicu Popescu, this confirmed that Cristina Balan chose to execute the diplomacy of Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party, instead of the state’s diplomacy.

“I reiterated to the US authorities that from now on, all the steps taken by Balan are made on her own account, and do not reflect in any way the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova”, claims Nicu Popescu.

He mentioned that he has decided to submit to the Government of the Republic of Moldova the proposal to dismiss Mrs. Cristina Balan from the position of ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the United States of America.

Cristina Balan is the former vice-president of PDM, where she was responsible for the DPM’s foreign affairs management. Oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc was elected to this position on May 8, 2018.

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What we need to know about the recent ECHR decision on behalf of Turkish teachers’ expulsion

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Not many might remember, but quite a while ago, on the morning of September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens were expelled from Moldova. SIS previously stated that the seven Turkish citizens might have had links to an Islamist group, a group about which there are indications that they are carrying out illegal actions in several countries.

However, this doesn’t only concern President Dodon, who – although not capable of suitably commenting on the outrageous events – seemed to have had very close ties with the Turkish President. Additionally, in September, the ECHR was notified in connection with the expulsion of the seven Turkish citizens from Moldova by Vitalie Nagacevschi, the president of the “Lawyers for Human Rights” Association. Shortly after the application was filed, the ECHR told that it had notified the case and asked the Moldovan Government (then led by Pavel Filip) for explanations regarding the expulsion of Turkish teachers. Back when the Plahotniuc–Dodon (DPM-SPM) cooperation was still running, a reasonable explanation on behalf of a Democratic Party member like PM Filip would have been impossible.

In the explanations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the case of Turkish citizens, the Moldovan Government stated that it did not violate the procedure for declaring them undesirable and escorting from the country.

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Yesterday, ECHR issued a decision communicating that Moldova violated the rights of foreign nationals expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova in September 2018. The ECHR detected a violation of Articles 5.1 and 8 of the Convention on Human Rights, and this is what it has decided:

The Moldovan Government will have to pay € 25,000 for five of the seven Turkish citizens whose rights have been violated and who filed complaints before the Court.

In front of the Court, the applicants said they were illegally detained on the morning of September 6 and that they were being illegally handed over to the Turkish authorities. The Moldovan Government has admitted that Turkish citizens have been detained but has told the Court that this was justified and the plaintiffs did not oppose the expulsion to their country of origin.

Although the Government of Chisinau insists on not being aware of the applicants’ fears of being expelled to Turkey, the Court notes that in the asylum applications the plaintiffs clearly expressed their fear of being persecuted. At the same time, in its decision of 4 September 2018, the Bureau of Migration and Asylum considered that the applicants’ fear of being politically persecuted in Turkey was well founded in connection with these asylum applications.

More so, since the applicants have integrated into the Moldovan society and have genuine family relationships, the Court considered that their expulsion from Moldova radically disturbed their private and family relationships. Therefore, Lawyers for Human Rights noted that there has been an interference with their rights in this respect.

Today however, Nicolae Frumosu – the lawyer of the Turkish citizens, declared undesirable and remote from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, claims that the government agent did not submit any evidence that teachers constituted or constituted a danger to security and the order of the Republic of Moldova to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Image result for nicolae frumosu

“The ‘Orizont’ Moldovan-Turkish Lyceum file is not yet complete,” said Frumosu.

According to him, the most important aspect is that “neither before has the European Court of Human Rights, the government official, the Moldovan state submitted any evidence that the applicants constituted or constituted a danger to the security and public order of R Moldova”. The lawyer says he does not have any current information about the status and situation of Turkish teachers.

What’s next?

“There are national disputes regarding Turkish citizens. Here I am referring to challenging decisions on refusal to grant refugee status as well as challenging the decisions of the Migration and Asylum Bureau regarding the declaration as an undesirable person of those persons with their removal under escort. Many of these cases were discontinued on the part of the proceedings because of the lack of empowerment, whether they were taken out of service, or that they had been surrendered or refused to be received. But there are a few files still pending at national courts,” concluded the lawyer.

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