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How much alcohol do Moldovans consume? The repercussions and solutions of this problem

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The Republic of Moldova is one of the few countries in this world that celebrates the “National Wine Day”. The celebration is organised every year on first weekend of October. Thousands of people gather, at that time, in the city centre of Chișinău to taste newly appeared on the market, as well as popular types of wine produced by wineries from all over the country. The fete of 2019 hosted 68 wine producers.

At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status Report on Alcohol and Health for 2018 says that Moldova has the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Even though the trend of alcohol consumption in Moldova is decreasing, as it dropped from 21.6 litres per capita in 2005 to 15.1 litres per capita in 2016 for persons over 15 years, that still does not remove it from this top.

According to the report, Moldovans mostly drink wine – 57% of their consumption is represented by wine, followed by 25% spirits and 16% beer.

Alcohol and health

It is not as important to analyse the quantity of the drunk alcohol, as the way it is consumed and the effects on the population. Therefore, the same WHO report states that, in 2016, 1907 persons out 100 000 died of liver cirrhosis, 188 out of 100 000 died of road traffic injuries and 799 out of 100 000 died of cancer. According to national statistics, there were also recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people caused by alcohol intoxication in 2016.

source: time.com

Alcohol is the cause of over 200 different diseases, including: neuropsychiatric disorders (epilepsy, depression, anxiety), digestive disorders (alcoholic liver cirrhosis, acute and chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic gastropathy), cancers (of the digestive tract and breast) or cardiovascular diseases (ischaemic, hemorrhagic, hypertension). Sexual dysfunctions are also very common – impotence for men and frigidity for women. When consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, the general tone of the body decreases, the interests, the goals in life disappear.

Alcohol abuse by pregnant women presents an essential danger to the unborn child. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol is accumulated in the fetus’s body. The toxic effect is extremely high during intrauterine development, causing irreversible damage to the central nervous system of fetus: neurons do not develop properly, some cells are destroyed, others develop abnormally, as Ministry of Health is warning.

Alcohol and teenagers

Young people alcohol consumption is another alarming phenomenon in the Moldovan society. The data (the 2015 ESPAD Report) shows that, in Moldova, 82% of pupils in 8th and 9th grades have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. About 9% of them declared that they already suffered an alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol and drivers

This year, traffic police officers discovered 3751 cases of drunk drivers. Because of drunk drivers, 30 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, and 134 suffered traumas. According to the National Patrol Inspectorate, the information campaigns, operations and sanctions applied by the police seem to be ignored by the drivers, which endanger the safety in road traffic.

source: politia.md

Alcohol and violence

In addition to the impact on health and high risk of causing traumas, the excessive alcohol consumption may have dramatic social consequences, such as relational problems (deterioration of family relationships, separation, divorce, abuse and neglect of children), loss of friends, material difficulties, loss of work, loss of home, social exclusion, legal issues (fines, imprisonment), inappropriate sexual behaviour (unprotected sex, rape, unwanted pregnancy), etc.

According to the WHO report, men consume 4 times more alcohol than women. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of domestic violence, especially towards women.

A report from 2011 on violence against women in the Republic of Moldova shows that 79% of respondents consider excessive alcohol consumption to be the main cause of domestic violence and a share of 38.7% of women in Moldova are victims of physical violence because of their consuming alcohol husband, whereas 50,4% of women are victims of sexual violence. Even though the data may be a bit outdated and the situation could have been improved in the meantime, the numbers are more than alarming.

Identified solutions

Moldova has a national policy regarding alcohol consumption, implemented excise taxes on alcohol and restrictions for selling alcoholic beverages. In 2012, the Ministry of Health adopted an eight-year national plan to ban certain advertisements, raised taxes on hard liquor, restricted sales hours and raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18. Also, the government reduced the legal blood alcohol content, made penalties more severe and increased breath testing.

Various measures are tried to be implemented by the local authorities as well. In 2018, the former mayor of Puhoi village, Petru Frunze, promoted an innovative project. He invited 20 alcohol addicted persons to sign an agreement with the mayor’s office, which obligated them to stop consuming alcoholic beverages for half a year. Instead, he promised them jobs and cash prizes worth 1,000 MDL.

source: time.com

The purpose of the initiative was to determine capable to work but alcohol-dependent citizens to be hired and work, thus to reduce domestic violence. Petru Frunze believes that in order to solve the problem of alcoholism in the country, a specialised institution must be created, as Moldova.org reported.

“There should be someone who always watches over them, because otherwise they fall into temptation. It would be good to have an institution at the national level to deal with such things, to develop rehabilitation programs for alcohol addicts. In addition, the problem begins in the teenage years. Even if young people are graduating, they are not encouraged to start to work. There are many jobs that are not so well paid, but still a salary of 5,000-6,000 lei is a better alternative than becoming alcoholic. The state must get involved.”

Currently, the project is no longer carried out in Puhoi. However, it may serve as a good example of trying to solve such social problems on the local level.

Last year, the National Probation Inspectorate, which aims to implement the measures of reintegration of the Moldovan offenders in the society, set up a method to fight drunk or drugged drivers: their driving licences are withdrawn. In order to recover them, drivers have to take special courses.

The program was called “Drink & Drive” and started in March 2019, including 12 sessions. During two of them, the beneficiaries go to the Legal Medicine Centre and the Emergency Hospital. They participate in the autopsy process and even wash the bodies or their places of storage, and in case of emergency, they must provide assistance to road accident victims.

At the same time, the National Police of Moldova launched a telephone line (067 112 902) exclusively for the notification of the Police regarding the cases of drivers driving or attempting to drive their cars while being drunk.

A still existing problem

According to Time, accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of consumed alcohol is homemade wine. At the same time, while taxes on hard liquor were raised, beer and wine are still cheap. There is no legal requirement of asking beer and wine consumers to present their ID in Moldovan pubs and bars.

Moreover,  the existing regulations are not effectively enforced. For example, most bars and supermarkets don’t care about the legal time restrictions, nor the about the legal age limits, especially in the countryside.

The law on preventing and combating domestic violence in Moldova still contains lacuna and is not fully enforced to fight this phenomenon.

Photo: time.com

Politics

A new option for Moldovan politics? The minority government

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The Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) announced today its support for the President’s initiative to establish a minority government, consisted of apolitical and technocratic people. “In this regard, we will enter into a dialogue with all the deputies and with all the parliamentary factions in order to identify the optimal formula for investing a technocratic Government,” is mentioned in an official statement of PSRM.

President Igor Dodon had consultation meetings with all parliamentary factions representatives, but no consensus was reached between them. “Our proposal is very clear: Maia Sandu – prime minister, the Cabinet of Ministers and Government’s agenda – stays the same. We do not accept any other candidate,” declared Igor Grosu, the representative of the political bloc ACUM after meeting the President.

At the same time, the remaining two parliamentary factions declared they will form no government coalition either, the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) stating that it’s not prepared, while the Șor Party saying it won’t participate in the current “simulation games”.

Mutual accusations

“Today, we discovered the unwillingness of the colleagues from the political bloc ACUM to maintain the governing coalition. They categorically rejected the proposal to establish a new government, following the same principles, with the same vision of government, but with new people, elected via consensus. The proposal of ACUM to establish a similar government to the one that was dismissed, with the same prime minister, is ridiculous. It denotes political infantilism and lack of constructive approach. You can’t make the same mistakes twice,” according to the PSRM statement.

We cannot reset the Government with exactly the same people who led to the dismissal of the previous one.


On the other hand, Maia Sandu, interim Prime Minister of Moldova, said for RFE/RL that, when she assumed the responsibility for amending the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office, she did not imagine “that Igor Dodon would be so irresponsible as to descent the country into chaos, before the 2020 budget approval and before the country obtained additional external financing instalments for the budget”.

Maia Sandu declared that the de-oligarchisation cannot continue without the reform of the General Prosecutor’s Office, which did not have political support.
“We focused on the appointment of an independent General Prosecutor because it was clear that we would not be able to go on with the rest of the reforms related to the Supreme Court of Justice or the cleansing of judiciary,” explained Sandu.

“I was aware that Igor Dodon is afraid of an independent prosecutor and I was aware that they want to stop the implementation of justice reform at this stage or at a later one.”

“The so-called technocratic government, which has no reason to be technocratic, will be an interests-sharing government between PSRM and DPM. That was what upset PSRM: we did not allow them to get involved in ministries,  we did not allow them to do their schemes or take over those of the DPM (previous government),” stated Sandu in the interview.

No other coalition

The PSRM representatives stated that it will not form any coalitions with other parliamentary factions, the only long-term coalition that was possible was between PSRM and ACUM. President Dodon announced he saw “no chance for forming a majority government.”

At the same time, he claims that he does not want snap elections, so if a consensus is not reached, he would submit a candidate to the position of prime minister. Beside the option of creating a majority government, the president took into consideration the option of forming a technocratic government. “Therefore, starting from today we announce that the PSRM faction is moving towards voting a new Government, with the participation of the Presidency and other parliamentary factions,” socialists declared.

Justice reform

In the given circumstances, the future Minister of Justice should announce a new contest for selecting a Prosecutor General, or return to the results of the contest cancelled by the ex-Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate, according to President Dodon.

“The justice reform will be further implemented. No matter what formula will be reached, majority or minority government, I will insist that all recommendations of the Venice Commission would be taken into account and that the justice reform would be implemented exactly as society expects,” said President Dodon.

A new prime minister?

Even though the term of 90 days is long enough, President Dodon already submitted a candidacy for the position of prime minister.  Surprisingly (or not), the newly proposed candidate is Ion Chicu, adviser in the legal field and institutional relations, representing the President of the Republic of Moldova in relations with the Parliament and the Government, former Minister of Finance in the Democratic Government led by Pavel Filip.

Igor Dodon has already signed the presidential decree.

“He is a professional, technocratic person, who was not part of any party and could face any challenges. I submitted this application hoping that a professional candidate will be voted,” argued the president.

The head of state warns the MPs that they must take the risk of snap elections, if they do not vote for the candidacy of Ion Chicu: “You will have to assume the expenses and the risks related to snap elections,” he claimed during his second press conference held today.

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Moldovan Government fell as a result of the Parliament’s no-confidence vote – a full picture of events

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Today, October 12th, the government led by Maia Sandu collapsed. The no-confidence motion submitted by the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) in the Parliament was adopted by 63 Members of the Parliament (MPs) – 34 MPs were from the PSRM and 29 deputies from the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM).

Details about the no-confidence motion here.

The contradictory declarations

Prime Minister Maia Sandu had a speech at the Parliament today, trying to defend the Government’s position.

source: privesc.eu

“Deputies from the Socialist Party build their motion on false accusations about the worsening of the social and economic situation of the country. Why do you lie to people? Where do you see the worsening social and economic situation? The only worsening of the economic situation is for those who have been stopped from corruption schemes. […]

The citizens did not expect miracles in 5 months, they understand and appreciate a responsible government, made up of honest ministers, who came to these functions to make people’s lives better.

The vision of ACUM is known – we want true justice. We want efficient prosecutors and judges who make decisions in the name of law. We want those who stole the billion to go to jail. It’s simple. That is what the whole society wants,” Maia Sandu announced.

“Today, there was not only a betrayal of the Government, but also of every citizen who hoped that justice would soon be done and the life would be better,” Sandu also claimed.


President Igor Dodon made a few declarations in a press conference after the Parliament’s sitting. First of all, Dodon stated that Prime Minister Maia Sandu intentionally caused the fall of the entire Cabinet of Ministers. “Maia Sandu intentionally caused the fall of Government and the crisis of the ruling coalition to distract the citizens’ attention from the inefficient economic and social policies of the last five months. Apart from promises, Maia Sandu was not able to provide any results,” said Igor Dodon.

source: privesc.eu

The head of state declared that he is ready to accept any candidacy for the position of prime minister, proposed by ACUM and PSRM, but he will not accept the candidacy of Maia Sandu again. “If the MPs from ACUM will not accept the dialogue, then their desire to cause snap parliamentary elections, in an extremely difficult period for the Republic of Moldova, becomes evident.”

At the same time, President Dodon invited all parliamentary factions to consultations for the appointment of a new prime minister tomorrow. The president of the country said he could personally submit a candidate for the position of prime minister. The head of state also gave assurances that “the Socialists do not want a coalition with DPM.”

The reactions of Moldova’s international partners

The EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Maja Kocijancic, expressed her concern regarding the situation in the Republic of Moldova in an official statement.

“The vote of no-confidence in the government in the Republic of Moldova over questions concerning the recruitment process of the Prosecutor General sends worrying signals for the reform process in the country.

The coalition had started a number of initiatives to deliver on the key commitments made since June notably in the fields of the fight against corruption, independence of the judiciary and investigation into the banking fraud.

The need for such reforms has not gone away with the voting down of the government.

The European Union’s partnership will remain focused on delivering tangible benefits to the Moldovan citizens. In this spirit, the EU is committed to working with those in the Republic of Moldova who support the reform process that is at the core of our Association Agreement, in particular as regards fighting corruption and vested interests irrespective of the political affiliations, ensuring the independence of the judiciary and de-politicising the state institutions. We will continue to base our relationship with the Republic of Moldova on the principle of conditionality and respect for the rule of law and democratic standards,” is mentioned in the statement.

Dragoș Tudorache, the rapporteur of the European Parliament (EP) for the Republic of Moldova, also made a statement about today’s events in Moldova: “Politicians in the Republic of Moldova should never forget the only objective that matters both now and in the future: the European route of their country. […] Rapid action is therefore needed to provide the necessary assurances that the pro-European route is not derailed in any way. We are waiting for the correct signals that will follow from the negotiations in the coming days and I hope that we will not have any unpleasant surprises from the Moldovan politicians,” the EP rapporteur declared.

The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, argued that the socialist approach to dismiss the Government is against the long-term interests of the Republic of Moldova.

“Romania strongly supported the efforts of the Government of Chișinău, given the clear and determined commitment of the government coalition for the European path. […] In this context, Romania’s support, including financial support, will continue to focus on the interests of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, as well as on the implementation of strategic bilateral projects, being strictly conditioned by the continuation of the essential reforms for the democratic development of the Republic of Moldova and the advancement of its European path,” it is mentioned in the official statement of the Romanian head of state.

What is happening next?

According to the law of the Republic of Moldova, after the MPs have adopted the no-confidence motion against the Executive, prime minister is obliged to submit to the head of state the resignation of the Government within a maximum of three days. The Cabinet of Ministers will be in office until the members of the new Government are appointed.

During the term of his resignation, the Government cannot make foreign policy decisions and is not entitled to legislative initiative.

The president of the Republic of Moldova is obliged to initiate consultations with parliamentary factions to form a new Government.

After consulting the MPs, the president appoints a candidate for the position of prime minister and, within 15 days from the appointment, the candidate requests the confidence vote of the Parliament on the Government’s program of activity, presenting the full list of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The deadline for forming a new Government is three months. If the Government does not get the confidence vote from the Parliament during this period, the legislative is dissolved and snap parliamentary elections are called.

Photo: privesc.eu

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PSRM brought a no-confidence motion in the Parliament criticising the Government. What’s next?

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Just a few hours ago, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) brought a no-confidence motion in the Parliament criticising the Government handling of the justice reform, namely the amendments to the Law on Prosecutor’s Office presented to legislature by the political bloc ACUM. 

The discussions in the Parliament

The socialists declared that the amendments proposed by ACUM endangers the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office and the independence of the justice.

“Maia Sandu ignored all good practices regarding the appointment of an independent prosecutor, ignored the constitution of the country and the opinion of the Venice Commission, preferring not to wait,” said the PSRM member Vasile Bolea.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Maia Sandu gave a speech in front of Members of the Parliament (MPs), in which she argued the position of ACUM regarding the amendment to the Law on Prosecutor’s Office, stating that this is the best solution for selecting an independent Prosecutor General.

“We made some compromises. We did it to achieve the main objective – an independent Prosecutor’s Office, a fair justice. The fight for the Prosecutor General is the red line.[…] Moldova has gone through several justice reforms. […] And yet the good intentions did not produce a result, being neutralised by hidden political interests. […] I decided to proceed differently. I assume the political responsibility for the process of identifying candidates for the position of Prosecutor General. I will personally identify and verify honest, brave and well-intended people and propose them to the Superior Council of Prosecutors.

In this respect, I am encouraged by the position of the Venice Commission, expressed in other similar situations, according to which the selection of the Prosecutor General must be done in such a way as to obtain the public’s confidence, and the selection of the Prosecutor General with the involvement of the executive and legislative powers would offer more democratic legitimacy of this procedure.

Therefore, according to the Venice Commission, it is reasonable for a government to want to participate in the selection process of the Prosecutor General on the grounds that the fight against corruption is crucial for the proper functioning of the state institutions,” stated Maia Sandu.

After that, the secretary of the PSRM faction, Vasile Bolea, submitted a no-confidence motion in the Parliament, expressing the withdrawal of the confidence granted to the Sandu Government.

The President’s declarations

President Igor Dodon still hopes that ACUM will withdraw the initiative, by which the Executive has assumed responsibility for amendments to the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office.

“There is still a few days for the unconstitutional initiative to be withdrawn. There is still room for reflections and understanding by ACUM that the Prosecutor General cannot be politically subordinated, and the coalition should not be sacrificed on the altar of personal ambitions,” Igor Dodon wrote on Facebook after the Socialist faction submitted the no-confidence motion against the Government in the Parliament.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the Prosecutor General is appointed by the President of the Republic of Moldova, at the proposal of the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP), for a term of 7 years, which cannot be renewed.

The amendments proposed by ACUM include selection by the prime minister, according to the approved procedure, of at least two candidates for the position of prosecutor general and submission of the list to the SCP. Next, the SCP would select one candidate from the list and would propose him/her to the president.

What’s next?

The Permanent Bureau of the Parliament will meet within the next three working days to decide when the next plenary session will be held, at which the no-confidence motion will be examined.

As following, the motion will be debated and voted. It is considered adopted with the vote of the majority of MPs (51). Thus, given that PSRM has 36 MPs, it must be voted by other factions as well. There is a great probability that the motion will be voted by the Democratic Party MPs and/or by Șor Party MPs.

In case the no-confidence motion is adopted,  the prime minister will submit to the President the resignation of the Government within a maximum of 3 days. If the no-confidence motion is rejected, the deputies who signed it will not be able to initiate, at the same session, a new motion for the same reason.

Protest in front of the Parliament

People have united in a protest to support the Sandu Government in front of the Parliament. They gathered and demanded a fair justice. The protesters came up with placards where it was written: “I support the Sandu Government”, “Checkmate – assumed prosecutor” “Independent prosecutor supported by the Parliament” and “It’s a must to have a fair prosecutor”.

source: TV8

source: TV8

Photo: privesc.eu

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