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Interview with an experienced pilot: The fear of flying// VIDEO

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Although planes are the safest means of transport, many of us are afraid of flying. Mihai Botnari, a pilot with 21 years of experience at Air Moldova, dismantles all the fears of flying. How worrying is the turbulence? What happens if a bird hits the engine? Or a lightning strike? What does an old plane represent?

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“The parliamentary elections will be a crucial test for Moldova” – Interview with Maja Kocijancic, the EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

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We spoke with Mrs. Maja Kocijancic, the EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy about the situation created in the Republic of Moldova, in the context of the future parliamentary elections.

The Parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova will be organised soon, on February 24th. The political situation is already strained, even though the campaigning period starts only on January 25th. How exactly is the approaching elections seen by European Commission?

Credible, inclusive, and transparent elections at all levels, be it national or local, are pillars of any democracy and respecting the will of voters is one of the fundamental democratic principles. Hence, the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova are of critical importance for the credibility of Chisinau’s commitment towards political association to the EU and for its democratic credentials, first and foremost, vis-à-vis the Moldovan citizens.

The EU is strongly committed to helping deliver real changes to the lives of the Moldovan people and so we would like to believe in the same level of commitment on the side of the Moldovan authorities. Unfortunately, recent developments, in particular the invalidation of the results of the mayoral elections in Chisinau, put into serious question the respect for democratic values and the rule of law in the country. These values are at the heart of the EU’s relations with the Republic of Moldova, as enshrined in our Association Agreement. The upcoming parliamentary elections will be yet another very crucial test for the respect for those core values and principles we agreed upon when signing the Agreement.

We therefore expect the authorities of the Republic of Moldova to ensure that the parliamentary elections are conducted in line with international standards.

The pending recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission opinion of March 2018 and OSCE/ODIHR final reports should be implemented, including in particular by ensuring that all candidates receive equal opportunity to stand for the elections and have access to media, as well as ensuring appropriate international and national monitoring throughout the entire electoral process. The Moldovan authorities should also implement recommendations related to the transparency rules of party and campaign financing.

Is the situation during the electoral period supervised by the EU officials? What is the attitude towards the abuses committed by the Moldovan political parties during the pre-election period, investigated by the Promo-LEX Association, and what is the attitude regarding the invalidation of the last municipal elections for the mayor of Chisinau?

The changes to the electoral code adopted in 2017 were against the recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and OSCE/ODHIR. We said that at the time, publicly and to our Moldovan counterparts at various meetings. Since then, we have been very clear that the EU will continue to closely monitor the consequences of the new electoral system during the electoral process, including during the campaign, on Election Day and the period thereafter, with respect to their impact on democracy in general and on the multi-party system in particular.

Following the non-transparent invalidation of mayoral elections in Chisinau in July 2018, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn issued a joint statement expressing the importance for the government to respect the will of the voters. And in September 2018, Commissioner Hahn clearly communicated to Prime Minister Filip that we expect the Moldovan authorities to take further urgent actions to address our concerns, including the growing pressure on opposition, independent media and civil society.

The EU and other international partners are also regularly raising issues pertaining to human rights, including cases related to widespread use of preventive arrest, non-transparent judicial processes, as well as detention conditions and treatment of detainees, including several recent allegations of ill-treatment.

Now, in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, the EU will continue to follow with the closest attention all aspects relevant to the preparation and conduct of the elections.

As already mentioned, parliamentary elections in line with international standards, respecting democratic principles, are of crucial importance for us and so is the rule of law and human rights in Moldova, including the situation of the civil society and media. Guaranteeing an enabling environment for opposition and civil society is a key component of democracy.

We are also fully aware of, amongst others, the Promo-Lex report, as well as of the reactions it received. The findings of this national NGO with a long and reputable tradition in election monitoring should be considered by the relevant authorities and serve as the basis for taking appropriate steps to address identified shortcomings.

The Republic of Moldova was to receive a macro financial assistance of 100 million Euro from the EU, but the financial assistance was blocked, mainly due to the modification of the electoral system despite the recommendations of the European institutions and also due to the invalidation of elections for the mayor of Chisinau. Could you please evaluate the implementation by the Moldovan government of the reforms as part of the Eastern Partnership?

The EU supports political and economic reforms in Moldova in line with the Association Agreement. We also support Moldova through the cooperation in the Eastern Partnership format and provide assistance to improve the lives of citizens. However, it is the responsibility of the Moldovan authorities to effectively implement reforms and make good use of our support. In the Council Conclusions of February 2018, the EU reaffirmed these commitments, but also expressed concern at the lack of implementation of key reforms in Moldova. The new electoral law did not address some of the key recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR, and immediate changes were also needed elsewhere, namely, the need to ensure media freedom and pluralism; to decisively fight against corruption; and to pursue a thorough reform of the judiciary.

At its meetings with the Moldovan counterparts, including at the Association Council in May 2018 and Association Committee in November 2018, the EU acknowledged that Moldova has made some progress in economic reforms, fiscal consolidation and bank restructuring, as well as in implementing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, but clearly stated the areas where it feels there are shortcomings and where more decisive actions are needed.

While the EU acknowledges progress in Moldova in terms of economic development, it has witnessed a backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and, in particular, citizens’ rights. The European Commission, Parliament and the Member States have all expressed their concerns over the situation in Moldova.

In light of this deterioration, and in line with the principle of strict conditionality, payments under the Macro-Financial Assistance and EU budget support programmes have been put on hold, pending tangible progress in the areas already specified in the Council Conclusions of February 2018 and in those where we have been repeatedly voicing our concerns. Furthermore, the European Commission has taken the decision to substantially recalibrate its financial assistance and redirect support to projects that have a direct, positive impact on Moldovan citizens.

Taking into consideration the political context and the pre-election environment, is the Republic of Moldova on its way of approaching the EU and how willing is the EU to continue this process? Is the Association Agreement endangered by the direction of the events that take place in Chișinău?

The EU’s policy and assistance towards the Republic of Moldova remains focused on bringing tangible improvements in the lives of citizens. The EU has no intention of disengaging from the country. On the contrary, we will continue to engage by, i.a., stepping up our support for citizens’ empowerment, independent media and strategic communications. We also intend to support socio-economic development at regional level, focussing on Ungheni and Cahul. We will also continue supporting the peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and strengthening the rule of law and anti-corruption mechanisms.

The EU will remain committed to the Association Agreement as we believe the Moldovan citizens deserve better, and more specifically, they deserve the upcoming elections to be free and fair, a government committed to fight against corruption and a truly independent judiciary. The EU will continue to assist Moldova to this end, as one of our closest neighbours who made a clear European choice as testified by our Association Agreement.  But we expect the current and future Moldovan authorities to stay committed to this most ambitious agreement signed with the EU.

Our stability, security and prosperity are interdependent: a strong EU will help Moldova, and a strong Moldova will help the EU.  For such a partnership to work effectively and bear fruit, we need to rely on the establishment and proper functioning of democratic institutions, a strong and active civil society, and economic structures that facilitate and support development, inward investment, jobs and growth.

What should the priorities in the EU-Moldova relationship be and what measures should be taken considering the current situation?

The priorities in the EU-Moldova relationship are clearly stated by the Association Agreement. With signing it, Moldova decided to come closer to the EU and to adhere to our values. Moldova also committed to the swift and thorough implementation of key reforms aimed at bringing positive changes to the lives of the Moldovan people. The revised Association Agenda, setting out 13 key priorities for action, and the 20 deliverables for 2020 under the Eastern Partnership framework, also serve as practical guidance to this end.

Structural reforms are needed to create jobs and reduce poverty. But most of all, what remains absolutely crucial is building the State’s resilience, which can only be done with a genuine and decisive fight against vested interests and corruption, in order to build stronger institutions and contribute to the country’s growth. The EU stands ready to assist the Republic of Moldova to this end, but it is vital that the Moldovan authorities demonstrate their deep commitment to such values as the rule of law and democratic principles.

The EU expects the Moldovan authorities to take some urgent actions in order to redress the current situation. Our expectations concern elections, which should be credible, inclusive and transparent, but also other critical areas related to the respect of the rule of law. These include in particular:

  • a comprehensive and impartial prosecution of the banking fraud case, including in particular progress on Mr Shor’s case. The recurrent delays in judicial proceedings related to this case raise serious doubts about the credibility of efforts to prosecute this massive fraudulent scheme in a comprehensive and transparent manner. A thorough, impartial and comprehensive investigation and prosecution of the cases of the banking fraud with the aim of recovering the misappropriated funds and bringing all those responsible to justice, irrespective of any political affiliations without further delay and in full respect of the rule of law, is critical. This is what the EU has been repeatedly calling for during the past four years;
  • a substantive justice reform which is long overdue. The EU expects the Moldovan authorities to guarantee judicial accountability, transparency, impartiality and independence in line with the country’s international commitments as one of the key principles of the rule of law, a crucial element of democracy and the protection of human rights, and a long-standing expectation of the Moldovan citizens;
  • a decisive fight against high level corruption and vested interests.

Photo source: tiranatimes.com

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What is the official language in Moldova and does the ‘Moldovan’ language actually exist?

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If you are a Moldovan citizen, surely you had, at least once in your lifetime, the situation when you needed to specify for a foreigner what language you speak in your home country. If you are a foreigner that heard at least once about Moldova, certainly you asked a Moldovan native: “What language do you speak there? Moldovan?”

In any case, you heard about the eternal ping-pong game between the Romanian and the ‘Moldovan’ languages that is one of the big social disputes in Moldova. When asked about that, some people don’t even know what to answer as the debates between the state officials, the changing laws and the opinion of experts is always contradictory. So, let’s look into it: What is the official language in Moldova and does the Moldovan language actually exist?

Photo source: sputnik.md

Let’s start from the beginning…

Over time, the today’s territory of the Republic of Moldova was annexed either to the Russian Empire (between 1812 and 1918) or to the Soviet Union (1940 – 1941 and 1944 – 1991). Therefore, the period of more than 150 years of russification was paid off and transformed the population that live between the Dniester and the Prut into a hesitant and ambivalent crowd that doesn’t know its history and provenience, and even what language they speak.

How is it possible? Well, there are several important measures that were taken for that. First, the Romanian language started to be eclipsed by the Russian language in the province of Bessarabia formed after 1812: the official papers were issued only in Russian; the school courses began to be taught predominantly in Russian until the Romanian language was totally forbidden; the idea of Romanian language and the Romanian nation was treated as a separate object by the politicians, historians, chroniclers, writers, journalists that served the Russian empire. The main goal of the Russian empire was to lead the population of the Bessarabia province into ignorance. It wasn’t so important to teach them Russian, but to demotivate them to learn the literary Romanian that had only the status of a provincial language used on daily-basis.

The invention of the ‘Moldovan’ language

The situation changed when the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia (most of today’s Moldova) and the real russification process was performed. Then, a new concept, invented and tested before only on the territory of Transnistria, was applied – the Moldovan language. The hybrid language was formed of Romanian subdialect mixed with Russian words, written with Cyrillic alphabet (the literary Romanian uses Latin alphabet, as it is a Latin language). The main goal – the creation of a powerful separation instrument of the Moldovan population on the territory of Bessarabia from the rest of the Romanian population. The Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR) was declared as having a separate history, cultural values, language, traditions in order to incorporate it easier in the concept of ‘Homo Sovieticus’.

The central government of the Soviet Union aimed to get rid as soon as possible of the Romanian population that remained on the Bessarabia territory after the Soviet annexation in 1944. That was done through the emigration, organised famine, mobilization in the Red Army and massive deportations. The focus was to destroy any evidence of a relationship between Romanian and Moldovan populations that formed before one nation, for speeding up the russification process of the local population. The Romanian literature was declared alien and was confiscated, being replaced by Russian-Soviet propaganda literature. New teachers, loyal to the regime, were brought in schools, along with all Soviet courses: Soviet Union history, literature and, of course, the ideology of the Communist Party.

New Russian population was moved to the MSSR and to other countries that were part of the Soviet Union in order to promote the Soviet ideology and values, as well as to motivate the local population to learn the Soviet Union official language – Russian. Those that spoke this language were able to find better jobs and have a better life quality. Thus, the paradox appears here, as the Russian population established in MSSR adopted a colonialist attitude by understanding that they don’t need to learn the local language. Even today, when the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore, these people and some of their descendants still have the same attitude. This explains why foreign people that arrive in Moldova can hear both Romanian and Russian languages spoken by the population.

The expert’s opinion

According to Eugen Coșeriu, a Romanian philologist born in Moldova, there were few soviet countries that resisted the linguistic assault – Georgia, Armenia and the Baltic countries. In these post-soviet countries, the Russian language is not accepted as an official language. They managed to preserve their native languages and know for sure what language is that.

He explained that the so-called ‘Moldovan’ language is not even a separate subdialect (a subdivision of a dialect) of the Romanian language, belonging to the Moldovan subdialect spoken in the Romanian region called Moldova and in Ukraine. The only difference to the way Romanian people, on the other side of the Prut, speak are the Russian words infiltrated in the vocabulary. However, that doesn’t make it a separate language.

The today’s language ping-pong in Moldova

The Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova (1991 ) named Romanian the official language of the new formed state – the Republic of Moldova. In 1994, the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova claimed that the national language of Moldova is Moldovan, based on the Latin alphabet. In 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova decided that the Declaration of Independence takes precedence over the Constitution and the state language is Romanian. However, the Moldovan Parliament members have not yet amended the text of Art. 13 of the Constitution. The phrase “Romanian language” will be introduced in the Constitution if at least 67 Parliament members  support the draft law.

The President of Moldova – Igor Dodon declares himself a Moldovan patriot that speaks the ‘Moldovan’ language and promotes it even on the official website of the Presidency, whereas pupils in the Moldovan schools, including Dodon’s children, are officially taught the Romanian language.

Photo source: cancelaria.gov.md

It seems that the Romanian-Moldovan epopee initiated as an old trick of the Soviet Union will never come to an end. And it won’t, as long as people in the Republic of Moldova will be disinterested in their own history, culture and political situation, as long as they would sell their opinion and their right to vote for a piece of bread, and as long as they will let others tell them what to do with their life and their country.

The Moldovan language doesn’t exist. It’s like claiming that Brazilian people speak Brazilian, Austrian people have the Austrian language as the official language in their country or that Americans can ultimately separate their American English and declare it a separate language (even though some of them would like to). Moldovan language never existed. Now you know why.

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RISE Moldova: The “neighbor” of the Moldovan Prime Minister, Pavel Filip

Prime Minister Pavel Filip became “neighbor” with a company… The company “bought” a spacious house for which it paid several million lei.

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RISE Moldova has found out that this front-end company, behind which the real beneficiaries hide, belongs to the prime minister’s family.

For several years Paul Filip’s affairs and interests were governed by three nephews. In premiere, RISE Moldova presents how the family and business portfolios have been distributed.

Photo: The three nephews of PM Pavel Filip

ANNOUNCEMENT!

House. 3 floors. Chişinău, Paris street.

The surface - 400 m.p., land - 6 ares.

Partly furnished. Self-heating. Parquet. Phone line. Natural gas. Centralized sewerage system. Aqueduct. Cellar.

200,000 EUR.

This announcement was published on a real estate site on January 11, 2018, the day when the government held the first ministerial cabinet meeting this year.

“[…] We all wish a lot of success this year. The year in which we must work with a special intensity, and then I am sure that our reform agenda that is very ambitious for 2018 will be achieved,” the prime minister declared.

4 MONTHS LATER …

Prime Minister Pavel Filip’s agenda of May 25, 2018 was loaded with trips in three cities. In the morning, he went to Bălţi to visit two textile factories, then discussed with the mayor of Balti about the garbage crisis.

From the North, PM Filip walked his way to Drăguşeni village from Străşeni, about 25 km from his hometown. Here, he praised the repair of less than a kilometer of road through the “Good Roads for Moldova” program. Towards the evening, the official met with several farmers at a winery, located in a locality in Ialoveni.

During the same day in Chisinau, the seller who published the announcement on the day of the first Government meeting in 2018, after several months of waiting, found a buyer for his home, officially registering the sale-purchase transaction.

THE “PALACE” FROM PARIS STREET IN CHISINAU

Surprisingly, the dwelling is highlighted externally through the silver roof made of galvanized steel sheet flooring and surrounded by several domes.

The building with an area of 359 m.p. has two levels and was built in 1980. The golden interior is particularly remarkable with large chandeliers and decorative elements.

Wooden doors that make access from one room to another are large and the springs above are painted with glossy material. Also from wood is the staircase that connects the ground floor to the upper floor.

THE TRANSACTION

The landlord took the house for sale through real estate agents. The asking price was 200,000 euros.

However, official data indicates a much lower price than the market price. According to cadastral information, in 2005 the real estate was estimated for the purpose of taxation at 2.7 million lei. Today, the equivalent of 137 thousand euros, ie by 60 thousand euros less than the price demanded by the owner.

“It has already been sold. (Out of the price) fell a little,” the real estate agent Marcel Popovici told RISE.

The vendor is neighboring with Prime Minister Pavel Filip. Ivan Drangoi tells him. Ivan Drangoi is a man who in recent years has been sued several times for debts for Moldovagaz natural gas supplier, a lending company and a real person who has loaned him money.

Each time, Drangoi lost to court and was forced to repay the borrowed money, and the bailiffs banned and seized him on the Paris buildings – the house, the summer kitchen, and the adjoining land. All the restrictions were canceled on the very day when he sold his “Palace” on Paris.

The company is called Vota SRL. It was created in 1992 and was purchased in 2015 by Burex SRL (Details, AICI), a company controlled by the two children of Prime Minister Pavel Filip: Iulian and Dumitru. Together, they have 99% of the firm, and only one percent belongs to Victor Filip, the nephew of the prime minister.

More details on the official RISE website.

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