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What does the Kremlin regime really want from the upcoming Moldovan elections?

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I was at an international event and was asked by a participant whether Putin still has influence in the Republic of Moldova. The lady was an elderly Russian who has lived in several countries in exile in the European Union and was forced to leave after a long fighting experience for the Russian (including electoral) rights in her native country.

I did not know what to answer at first, because I saw a myriad of ways in which the Kremlin (which is often something other than Russia) exercises its influence in the Republic of Moldova.

The Russian vice is weakening

Naturally, I started off with the army in the Transnistrian conflict, which Yeltsin’s Kremlin had promised to bring home in 1999, but which Putin’s Kremlin had forgotten there. The remnants of this 14th Army have always offered pseudo-authorities in the strip a feared whip for legitimate authorities in Chisinau (or whatever they may be), who have never hurried to solve the problem. And there are no changes, as the OSCE responds to the interests of the East, NATO does not get involved because the Moldovans are afraid of the alliance, and the 5 + 2 negotiation format is long overdue.

I kept going on talking about the economic and energy dependence on the Kremlin, which could shut down the gas tap at any time or reject exports coming from the Republic of Moldova. There is hope that we will finally be able to connect to the Iasi-Ungheni-Chisinau pipeline. While export leverage can be less and less used, as only 15.5% go to the CIS states compared with 70% of the EU, Russia has gone far beyond Romania (8% versus 29%). We do not need the same amount of investments from the Russians as in the old days, as their investments have reached the 6th place, being exceeded by 5 European states. Workplaces and remittances of Moldovans working in Russia are another chapter in which the Kremlin is losing ground year after year, the first being reoriented to the EU after the Russians’ harassment, but also after the overall decline in Russian living standards. In 2018, money sent home by Moldovans in the EU accounted for 40% of the total, while those in Russia only 28%.

Tanks, propaganda and corrupt politicians

All data from above should make us more optimistic if we live in a democracy where things are in tune with the general interest of the population. But Moldova is not a democracy anymore, and the Moldovan population is not (only) formed of independent and well-informed citizens. The (geo) political orientation of our fellow citizens makes us remain pessimistic. Although the natural aspirations for a better life of Moldovans translate into the weakening of the Russian vignette, the Kremlin remaining only with their traditional tank and the new gas tap, too many of us continue to look at the Moldova Socialist Party/Democratic Party supporters, the subordinates from Chisinau of the Kremlin, with hope and confidence, as if they knew to do nothing but steal and lie in an organized way. In addition, the perception of the Moldovans is that Russia remains our most important economic partner, as it was before the Association Agreement, embargo, and other events that radically changed our dependence in recent years.

Part of the explanation of this attitude has its place in propaganda and in the fake news in the laboratories of Russian manufacturers of information garbage. Being Russian-speaking and having a Soviet past (and present), many Moldovans fall victim to these messages harmful to democracy, cohesion and the well-being of modern society. Moreover, the Kremlin knows this and speculates this vulnerability to the fullest, working hard to plant hatred and mistrust in everything that does not fit in the old Soviet templates, including their partners in Chisinau, people close to the President Dodon’s Moldovan Socialist Party, who control TV/Radio channels such as RTR, NTV, CTC, Accent TV, THT Bravo, Ren-TV and many others. Although only two of these are in the top 6 at the audience, the other ones are very influential among the population looking for entertainment and simple explanations for complicated issues.

These TV channels, duplicated by the Sputnik.md, vedomosti.md or kp.md sites, present the so-called socialists as partners of the Kremlin lords, while they are only fewer children their achievements, which mimic authority, power, and control in a mournful manifestation of people truly incapable of something better. We are talking about a female party leader who has enriched her relatives and colleagues from the money saved by citizens (Zinaida Greceanii); about a candidate who was enriched “only by the district counselor salary” in the Kroll report (Piotr Puscari); about another one who is beating his fellow citizens because he can not be taken into account altogether; or one who swears that he lives only from the financial gifts he received during his birthday (Veaceslav Lupov). Thus, he’s also an important actor in the Kroll report (this time, only a Shor Party member).

The threat of installing anti-European authoritarianism is real

In November, one of the recent credible polls showed us that in any configuration, the Chişinău Parliament will be a pro-Kremlin, anti-European and an anti-Moldovan one (which might turn into a large Transnistria). From the President Dodon’s Socialist Party to the Democratic Party of Moldova, the Moldovan Communist Party – parties with a high chance of forming a post-election coalition – all proved to be adepts of authoritarianism, doubling with a sort of local Soviet patriotism. Only oligarch Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) has been self-titled, since leading a discretionary republic, as a so-called “pro-European” party, and in the summer became a “pro-Moldova”. At that time, the relationship of subordination between Plahotniuc and Dodon began to grow more and more. It became clear that the President of the Republic of Moldova is in the ingrained situation of being pulled by two rails: one from the Armeneasca 44 street in Chisinau and another from the Piata Rosie 1 street.

The threat of the establishment of a Trans-Partisan group of greedy admirers of Putin is real. And if it succeeds, nothing will stop further deepening the crisis in which the Republic of Moldova lies, plundering the resources of the state, destroying families and ruining the lives of those whom they will banish, as did the Putin regime that chased the lady I answered the question to.

Therefore, our participation in the February 24th elections is vital for the Moldovan society, for the relatives, friends and people we hold.

Opinion by Tudor Cojocariu

Translated by Arina Livadari

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There are three Harvard University graduates in the government of PM Maia Sandu

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Three of the cabinet members in Chisinau have master degrees at from Harvard University. These are the Minister of Finance, (Natalia Gavriliţă) Minister of Economy (Vadim Brânzan), and Prime Minister Maia Sandu.

Newsweek.ro made a comparison of the members of the Government of Chisinau with those of the Cabinet of Ministers in Bucharest.

Source: mei.gov.md

Vadim Brânzan, the new Minister of Economy in the Chisinau Executive, is a professor of physics, yet between 1999 and 2001 he took a Masters Degree in Finance at Harvard University. From 2001 to 2019, he worked for various investment companies in London, New York, and Miami, the latter being Miami’s Logos Advisers, specializing in “angel investments,” which is aimed at helping startups.

Source: privesc.eu

Maia Sandu assigned Natalia Gavriliţă as Minister of Finance. Natalia has a Masters degree at the John F. Kennedy School of Governance, Harvard University. From 2015 until today she was a director of a London investment fund. Gavriliță also worked at the European Commission and the World Bank. She worked in countries such as Bangladesh, Belgium, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Nigeria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the Russian Federation, South Africa, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, USA, Zambia.

Moldova’s Minister of Agriculture is Georgeta Mincu, who holds a Master’s degree at the University of Dublin.

Source: Eastbook.eu

Nicu Popescu, the new Foreign Minister in Chisinau, is a Doctor of Political Sciences, a title obtained at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, with the thesis: “Stealth: EU and post-Soviet conflicts”. Popescu is a professor at the Po-Paris School of Science.

Image result for ministru georgeta mincu

Source: Gandul.info

Finally, the new Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu has a Masters degree at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and has worked at the World Bank in Washington DC.

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Stories from diaspora// Marian Cepoi: “While the things are not changing in Moldova, its citizens are given a second chance abroad.”

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Marian Cepoi is an ambitious and hardworking person from Moldova who is currently working as a policy assistant at the European Commission, while living in Brussels, Belgium. He is the protagonist of this week’s story from diaspora.

About working for the EU

Marian wakes up early every day. He has settled down into a morning routine: exercises, reflecting and a healthy breakfast. “I have noticed that I am feeling better during the day if I wake up earlier and have more time for morning activities. If you do not hurry up in the morning, your entire day will seem to be longer, with more time to achieve the always-infinite list of proposed tasks,” he says.

Marian’s list of daily tasks is really long: coordinating the organisation of meetings, drafting policy and working documents and briefings, liaising and communicating with internal and external actors, etc. Therefore, getting an energy boost in the morning is really useful.

However, his morning habits are not the only source of enthusiasm and efficiency. Marian also gets his energy from the joy of doing what he really likes. “European Affairs are an interdisciplinary topic and you never get bored with only one type of activity. It is a nice combination between political science, economics, law, development studies, communication, diplomacy, etc.” It is clear that Marian loves his job at the European Commission. “It is a big community of people with more or less the same profile, education and activities. You feel a member of this big family.”

Furthermore, Marian also enjoys living in Brussels: “It is a Babylon of our era. Here you do not feel like a foreigner and your language accent will not be judged. It allows me to be far from home, develop myself, and, at the same time, to not feel as a stranger – the way I would have been felt if I was working and living in another country or city.”

At the same time, our protagonist reveals some aspects of having a job at a European institution: “The work style is very different. The specificity of having 28 countries on equal foot developed here a strong common sense of co-decision, negotiation and respect for the opinion of other people. Even at the lower levels all decisions are taken after a wide internal and external consultation process.”  In the end, everybody is aware of their own contribution and no conflict of interests during the implementation process could appear, according to Marian.

Of course, there is the other side of the coin as well. “All these advanced democratic practices generate a complex system and, sometimes, it may appear slow, over-regulated, and too bureaucratic. However, without bureaucracy, that in fact assures the rules compliance, the European Union would have not been capable to extend at such a large scale, both in terms of number of countries and in terms of competences,” explains Marian.

About the prerequisites to enter the EU institutions’ competitive system

Marian did his master’s degree in European Studies at the College of Europe. “The College of Europe was a ‘visa’ for Brussels and for working at EU institutions in my case. It is almost impossible to enter the EU institutions, being from a third country, if you do not have a diploma with good results from a prestigious university, as well as prior relevant work experience.”

Marian says that studies at such high ranked abroad universities develop teamwork skills, self-studying abilities, public speaking, debating skills, critical thinking, self-confidence, research skills, and many more. “The experience at the College of Europe also taught me stress management, prioritization and self-organisation. It helped me adjust my already formed profile to the Western high work and life standards.”

To those young people who are working hard in Moldova and want to get to the next level, he recommends to go for a master’s degree abroad. “It will be the element which will complete their profile and prepare them for the international competition and career.”

Prior to his master’s degree, Marian gained his work experience as a policy researcher at IDIS VIITORUL and as a coordinator at Promo-LEX in the Republic of Moldova.

About the Moldova-EU Association Agreement

“If the current Association Agreement were fully implemented, 80% of Moldova’s situation would be adjusted to the European standards. It indeed means that the quality of life would grow as well.” Marian claims that the implemented reforms in the justice sector, for example, would attract significant EU funds and foreign investments. “At the EU level, there are enough money, but they don’t arrive in Moldova because of lack of structural reforms.”

According to Marian, it’s good that Moldovans have the opportunities to travel, work and live abroad. Still, as he mentions, without having good living conditions at home, it turns into a negative effect, as people simply leave their country for good. “The Moldovan diaspora has significantly grown in the last 5 years. People settle abroad together with their families, in the countries where they see a future for their children. This is a phenomenon without precedent in the history of the Republic of Moldova and I am afraid of its consequences. So, urgent significant changes in Moldova are needed if we want to still have it populated,” he says.

Marian will continue to work hard and look to a brighter future for his country and his family. “I want to profit from every single day and climb another step on my Everest!”

Photos: Facebook/ Marian Cepoi

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Stories from diaspora// Doru Curoșu – from a volunteer to a successful trainer, speaker and entrepreneur

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Doru is one of the most dynamic persons you could ever met. He is one of the few Moldovans who were mentioned in Forbes 30 under 30. Over the years, he participated in so many volunteering projects, that I would need some more space here to list them all. Doru is an HR expert, an international trainer and speaker, an entrepreneur, and simply an assertive person who, as it seems, could achieve anything.

About his career ‘determiners’

Doru’s successful career emerged from his volunteering activity. Indeed, volunteering experience has brought him where he is today.

Doru started his path at the AIESEC organisation. “AIESEC was the first organization I have been involved in since 2009. Actually, my life and work are determined by the values I learned back then. My professional activity is related to what I was doing in AIESEC.” Our protagonist was a trainer and a coordinator of several important projects under the organisation’s aegis.

Another crucial experience that served as a runway for Doru’s future professional career was his activity within the National Youth Council of Moldova. “There I experienced what it means to be a team manager, a colleague and an entrepreneur. The activity at the Council combined them all and taught me to have an impact while harnessing human capital.” Doru says that he was lucky to work in a wonderful team of people with whom he would come back to work together at any time.

Doru has also been a board member of the European Youth Forum where he got useful insights regarding internationalism, globalization, European values ​​and many more. “During four years of volunteering, I have acquired as much information as I could about national and international policies, especially youth policies. I got the chance to travel a lot, discovered new cultures, met new people, got new ideas, which I tried to implement at home afterwards,” Doru reveals.

Doru believes that each person is unique in his own way.

“What is important is how the personal capabilities and experience are used to get yourself noticed. I have always tried to be very good in everything I do, to offer quality, enthusiasm, energy and dedication. I like helping those in need and trying to build ‘bridges’ for a better future for young people. Probably, that’s how I made myself noticed, that’s how the world got to know me.”

There is one more essential determiner of a successful career, according to Doru – the network of contacts. “It has helped me since high school years. In 10 years, each experience has been adding value to who I am and to the way people know me. Every time my work brought results, it was noticed either in Moldova or internationally.” Therefore, he was awarded the National Youth Prize in 2013 and was the first Moldovan nominated in Forbes 30 under 30.

About the spectrum of his activities

Besides building his own brand of delivering excellent training and team building services, Doru founded his own company named Camelot. “All the experience I gained as a volunteer was monetized and transformed into a qualitative and unique product on our market. Camelot is the company that offers unique, memorable and impactful experiences for those working with us. We offer training, team building, human resource management and event management consulting,” specifies Doru.

In parallel, Doru is doing his master’s degree in Human Resources Management at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. He often commutes from Cluj-Napoca to Chișinău and back. When asked how he manages it; he often jokes that he learned teleportation. “I go to classes when I have to present projects, I am in Chișinău for training and team building activities, and I go to Bucharest for meetings with partners and potential clients. I am always on the road.” It’s not easy for Doru to do it all, still it is very rewarding in the end.

Just like his work, travelling is another ‘drug’ that gives him energy and inspiration, as Doru states. “The more I travel, the more I want to do it. Every visited country has had a huge impact on me.” Until this moment, Doru managed to discover 49 countries and more than 200 cities from Europe and Asia. His personal top of countries is led by Georgia, Portugal and Sri Lanka. “The 50th country has to be very special. I hope it will be Peru, Colombia or India.”

About the hidden part of the iceberg

Doru could tell from his personal experience how harsh the public opinion could be in regard to people that don’t want to take the ordinary way and how inefficient the educational system in the Republic of Moldova became. Only few know about the challenges Doru had in his effort to combine university, job, travelling, sports and volunteering activity.

Only few know that our protagonist was forced to confront the traditionalist views of the Moldovan university system. “I had a conflict situation with the university where I was doing my bachelor’s degree and, for 8 years, I have been investing my effort in graduating without giving up on our poor education system.” He also had to confront some of the most trivial stigmata of the Moldovan society: <<A man has to make money. The rest is a waste of time.>> or <<Forbes? Did they pay you for it? How did it help?>>

Doru preferred to prioritize his own needs and aspirations. “My experience with formal education was not necessarily the most enjoyable, as I am not the person who accepts to waste time on things that do not add value.” He considers that young people have to combine studies with other activities in order to be successful. It can be opening own business, volunteering, participating in international exchange of studies and volunteer programs, doing internships, organizing projects, events, etc.

“University provides the theoretical basis. It represents only 20% of your employment portfolio, the remaining 80% comes from practical experience. Young people need education, but with no other experience besides, they will not be able to distinguish themselves on the labour market.”

Doru declares himself a happy and a fulfilled person and, at the same time, he thinks there is still room for improvement: “That motivates me to never stop.” He says that the key to the balance between personal and professional life is efficient communication. The rest can be managed through patience and hard work.

Photos: Facebook/ Doru Curoșu

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