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Politics

Maia Sandu urges Tiraspol to lift the travel ban for officials of the Republic of Moldova

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Prime Minister Maia Sandu had a meeting with representatives of the mediators and observers in the “3+2” negotiation format. The discussions focused on the evaluation of the current stage of the Transnistrian settlement process.

Maia Sandu requested assistance from the “3+2” representatives in determining the Transnistrian party to eliminate in the near future the ban on traveling to the left bank for all citizens of the Republic of Moldova.

According to a government communiqué, the prime minister stressed that the “5+2” negotiation format for the Transnistrian settlement should become a platform to help fight corruption and smuggling.

“We have also discussed this in Kiev and I am glad that we have the same position in relation to this issue. The fight against corruption and smuggling in the Transnistrian region must be a priority. We will ensure that both state institutions and government officials will no longer be involved in corruption and smuggling schemes with Tiraspol, as it had happened in the past. As long as the Transnistrian region will be a major source of illegal enrichment for some people, there will be no real progress in identifying a political solution.”

In this context, Maia Sandu mentioned the need to prolong the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM).

The head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Claus Neukirch, reiterated that securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, with a special status for the Transnistrian region, is the key factor in the mission’s work, but also the main goal of the “5+2” format.

Justice

Secretary General of the CoE: “The perception of corruption in Moldova remains high, including in respect of the judiciary.”

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After an working group created by the Council of Europe (CoE) paid a visit to Chișinău, between December 20-21, for offering assistance regarding the implementation of judicial reform in Moldova, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, issued an official statement, stressing the fact that the judicial reform must reflect the country’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe delegation had meetings with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Appointments and Immunities, the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor General, the Superior Councils of the Magistracy and of Prosecutors, the National Institute of Justice, serving judges – including from the Supreme Court –  and civil society organisations. The conclusions drawn after all the meetings were transmitted to the Secretary General, who stated the following:

“Our experts concluded that a clear strategic concept for the desired changes should be drawn up as the basis for the work to follow, including at the legislative level. This concept should have the active support of all stakeholders and reflect the country’s obligations as a Council of Europe member State.  The concept should provide a proper strategic vision for the planned reforms and be based on a thorough needs assessment justifying and explaining the legislative and policy initiatives that are to follow. The institutions concerned will have to work together constructively and without haste to achieve these important goals.

According to our experts, the perception of corruption unfortunately remains high, including in respect of the judiciary. Measures should be taken to implement GRECO recommendations on preventing corruption with regard to judges and prosecutors, notably to prevent the appointment and promotion to judicial positions of candidates with integrity risks.

More broadly, the effectiveness of the anti-corruption framework should be strengthened and the independence and capacity of the main institutions in charge of preventing and fighting corruption should be guaranteed.

All reform measures must respect the Constitution and any elements of the reform that are not in accordance with the Constitution should be preceded by a constitutional amendment, itself in line with European standards. The Republic of Moldova should implement the recommendations set out in the Opinions of the Venice Commission when it comes to the role and mandate of the Superior Council of Magistracy and steps to renew the judiciary or ensure its integrity. It is important to ensure that all actions are appropriate and proportionate to the aim, and to clearly distinguish between matters that relate to the integrity of judges and those that relate to their competence.

Before considering any large-scale evaluation, full use should be made of the procedures that are already available for ensuring the integrity of the judiciary, notably criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings in cases of specific misconduct including corruption and effectively enforcing an asset declaration scheme.

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) provide a binding framework as regards removals, assessments and transfers of judges. A general re-evaluation exercise for judges and prosecutors is likely to lead to numerous applications before the ECtHR by those who have been dismissed or transferred as well as disrupting the functioning of the judicial system. The Ad Hoc Working Group therefore recommends utmost caution before considering any such initiatives,” is mentioned in the statement.

The CoE working group recommended that the Moldovan authorities work proactively to ensure the widest possible consensus for all reform measures as well as the involvement and endorsement of the institutions and professional groups concerned. The CoE representatives  expressed their readiness to continue the work with the authorities in order to ensure the independence, integrity and professionalism of the judiciary, the Secretary General statement announced.


Also today, the members of the Cabinet of Ministers approved the bill regarding the amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, in aspects related to the activity of judges, the Superior Council of Magistracy and provisions that would allow the president of the country to directly appoint judges.

A first bill’s provision refers to the exclusion of the initial term of five years of judges’ appointment, as a probationary period. Currently, judges are initially appointed for a period of five years. Only if they carry out their activity properly during this period, the judges are appointed until the age of 65 is reached.

Another amendment that is intended to be introduced is the formula according to which the judges from the Supreme Court would be appointed by the president of the country, at the proposal of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), the president having the right to refuse the SCM candidatures only once. Currently, the judges from the Supreme Court are appointed by the Parliament.

Also, the Government proposed to supplement the Constitution with a new article that would stipulate that the Superior Council of Magistracy is the guarantor of the independence of the judicial authority.

Another provision concerns the composition of the SCM, as it is proposed that half of the SCM members should be judges and all institution’s members should be elected for a period of 6 years, instead of 4 years as it is now.

The bill lastly contains amendments of Constitution in terms of regulating the functional immunity of judges, that would benefit from functional immunity only while performing their direct job tasks. Therefore, passive corruption, abuse of power, bribery, and similar misconducts wouldn’t be considered as acts committed within the legal exercise of their functions.

Photo: coe.int

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Politics

Moldova in the last decade// the most prominent political fiascoes the country experienced

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The decisions taken by the Constitutional Court, the expulsion of Turkish teachers, the adoption of the mixed electoral system, the president removed from office “for 5 minutes”, the lack of Government or the doubled Government – there were so many failures in the Moldovan politics in the last 10 years, that it’s hard to count them.

During the last ten years, the citizens of the country have witnessed many changes of the political and state institutions. Moldova.org selected the most relevant events. Here is where we can remember the saying “Every nation has the leaders it deserves.”

1  Decisions of the Constitutional Court from 7 to 9 June 2019

The Constitutional Court of Moldova (CC) announced, on June 7, that the deadline for the Parliament, which was elected on February 24 and validated on March 9, to appoint the new Government expired. The CC calculated that the constitutional term of “three months” provided for the formation of the Government actually means “90 days” and that it expired on June 7, not on June 9. The next day, the political bloc ACUM and the PSRM signed a temporary agreement for the formation of a majority government, Zinaida Greceanii being voted the president of the Parliament and Maia Sandu being appointed the head of the Government.

Immediately thereafter, the CC declared all the laws and decisions adopted by the new Parliament as unconstitutional. On June 9, the Constitutional Court decided to remove President Igor Dodon from office and appointed Pavel Filip as the interim president. After the Democratic Party announced its power withdrawal, on June 15, the CC cancelled its own previously taken decisions.

The Venice Commission published an opinion, stating that the CC violated its own procedures when taking the respective decisions, but also the principle of impartiality towards the political parties. The Commission recalled that the Court’s role is to be equidistant and to act as an impartial arbitrator in the event of a confrontation between political parties.

2 The period of two Governments

Between June 8-15, 2019, the Republic of Moldova had two Governments – the Government appointed by the newly formed majority government, led by Maia Sandu and the previous Government who still remained in power, according to the decision of the CC. Pavel Filip, the so-called interim president, announced the dissolution of the Parliament and the date of future snap elections.

The newly elected Parliament had its first session in the dark, as the technical employees of the building did not come to work that day. The democrats stated that they did’t recognise the new Government and didn’t intend to give up the power. The democrats’ leader Vladimir Plahotniuc accused the socialists of trying to usurp power. A week later, the Democratic Party decided to give up the power in favour of the Government appointed by the ACUM and socialists’ majority.

3 Clandestine interceptions’ scandal

A RISE Moldova investigation has discovered an entire operation of intercepting and chasing the political opponents of the democratic government, which has been carried out in recent years. The operation was carried out under cover of three criminal cases, filed because of inconvenient Facebook messages or statements at press conferences. As a result, it was established that the activities of 52 people, including politicians, representatives of civil society, organisations representatives and journalists, were investigated by prosecutors and police officers.

After coming to power, the ACUM representatives declared that the number of people chased by the former government was much higher. In addition to intercepting phone calls, some of them have also been monitored, as microphones and video cameras were installed in their houses. President Igor Dodon claimed that, in 2018, there were 10 thousand interceptions, out of which 600 at the request of the Information and Security Service (ISS), and 3 300 interception in 2019, out of which 200 were initiated at the request of ISS. Most interceptions were initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Based on the interception scandal, criminal cases were filed against four MIA employees, three prosecutors and four judges.

4 Camouflaged expulsion of Turkish teachers

On September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens who were teachers at Horizon High School, were removed from their homes by employees of the ISS and taken in an unknown direction. The state institutions declared the action as “expulsion”, saying that the Turkish nationals were suspected of links with an Islamist group. They have been declared undesirable by the competent bodies and expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

The Turkish citizens were taken to Turkey by a charter plane and were sentenced to years of imprisonment. Immediately after the expulsion operation, European officials asked the Moldovan authorities “to comply with the rule of law and all judicial procedures” in this case. On June 11, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights issued a conclusion stating that Moldova violated the rights of Turkish citizens and required the government to pay 25 thousand euros for each of the Turkish citizens, whose rights were violated.

5 Cancellation of Andrei Nastase mayoral mandate

In June 2018, the Chișinău District Court cancelled the results of the snap local elections for the mayoral seat of the capital city. The elections were won by the Dignity and Truth Platform Party leader, Andrei Năstase. His mandate was not validated on the grounds that he would have campaigned on social media on the day before elections. Andrei Năstase addressed voters on Facebook and advised them to participate in the vote.

The decision was heavily criticised by local experts, ambassadors and representatives of international forums. The decision remained in force and after being challenged in the higher courts. After one year and three months, the mandate of Andrei Năstase was validated. By that moment other local elections were organised and his rival, socialist Ion Ceban won the mayor seat.

6 The Citizenship by Investments Law


Also in 2018, the Parliament adopted the law on granting citizenship by investments – a mechanism by which foreign citizens could obtain citizenship of the Republic of Moldova. “The Law on Citizenship by Investments of the Republic of Moldova is one of the projects that created favourable conditions for international money laundering,” Transparency International-Moldova states in a report. Such models for granting citizenship are criticized by European officials, and some countries have already given up these programs. In the summer of 2019, the Government instituted a moratorium on this law for a period of four months.

7 The president removed from power “for 5 minutes”

In 2017, the Constitutional Court decided that the president’s refusal to carry out his constitutional duties in appointing a minister represented “a temporary impossibility to exercise his duties” and justified assigning the president of the Parliament or the prime minister as the interim head of state. In other words, the CC decided that the president Igor Dodon had no veto in appointing a minister, and the signature of the head of state on the confirmation decree is only a formal one.

In the period of 2017 to 2018, Igor Dodon was temporarily removed from office for five times, and the respective decrees were signed by the President of the Parliament Andrian Candu. The removal for “five minutes” became a joke of the representatives of civil society and experts who stated that Igor Dodon may claim to be included in the Guinness Book of Records. In December 2018, Igor Dodon stated that he had called for protest in case another removal from power would have taken place.

8 The adoption of the mixed electoral system

In the summer of 2017, the Parliament adopted the law on the mixed voting system. It provided that 50 deputies would be elected on party lists, and 51 – directly by citizens, in single-seat constituencies. The mixed voting system was adopted by the socialists, democrats and popular-Europeans and has been criticised by the Venice Commission, the European Union, the United States and by the political opposition.

After the formation of the new majority government, the Parliament adopted, in the summer of 2019, the return to the proportional representation system, cancelling the mixed voting system.

9 The appointment of the Government led by Pavel Filip

On January 20, 2016, the Parliament where the democrats held the majority, granted a vote of confidence to the candidate Pavel Filip and his Cabinet of Ministers. At that time, neither the draft Government activity program, nor the list of proposed Government members had been made public. The new Government was voted in a session that lasted about 30 minutes, in which the designated PM held a speech for 8 minutes and, in another 2 minutes, presented the Executive’s list. The discussions and debates were omitted.

Moreover, the procedure for taking the oath by the members of the Government also took place on January 20, secretly, at midnight. Thousands of protesters surrounded Parliament, calling for snap parliamentary elections. Subsequently, the protesters entered the Parliament building forcefully, and altercations took place.

10 Ilan Șor became the mayor of Orhei

Being criminally investigated in the “Theft of the century” case and being arrested at home, on June 14, 2015, Ilan Shor won the mayoral elections with 61.97% of the votes. Political analysts described his involvement in politics as an intention to escape house detention.

In 2017, he was sentenced by the first court to 7 and a half years in prison. Despite the accusations, Ilan Șor pleaded not guilty and continued his political activity . Moreover, he also obtained a mandate as a member of the Parliament. In 2019, he received the certificate of integrity to run for parliamentary elections. Later on, Ilan Şor left the country despite the court ban, after the democrats’ power withdrawal.

11 The theft of the century


In 2014, the Republic of Moldova became the scene of an international scandal, following a fraudulent scheme of 1 billion withdrawal from 3 saving banks from Moldova. To save the situation, two governments (led by Iurie Leancă and Chiril Gaburici) took decisions to grant state guarantees for covering the hole in the banking system. To investigate the case, Kroll company was invited.

At the initiative of the political bloc ACUM, a new parliamentary commission was created in order to investigate the banking fraud. It’s conclusions were that the amount of damage could be much higher than initially stated and that the main beneficiaries of the bank robbery were the Vladimir Plahotniuc, Ilan Șor and Vladimir Filat groups.

12 The stolen billion has to be paid by Moldovan citizens in the next 21 years


In 2016, the Government led by Pavel Filip decided to convert the emergency loans, amounting to 13.5 billion Moldovan lei, transferred by the National Bank of Moldova to three affected by the robbery banks, into state debt. Therefore, the citizens of Moldova would have to return in the next 25 years about 21 billion Moldovan lei (including the interest for the emergency loans). It was calculated that every child born in the Republic of Moldova would owe the state 4000 lei (182 euros) from the first day of his life.

13 No president, for almost three years

In 2009, when the former head of state Vladimir Voronin announced his resignation, the Parliament tried twice, but without success, to elect the democratic leader Marian Lupu to this position. In November 2010, due to Parliament’s inability to elect the head of state, snap parliamentary elections were held again. Finally, in March 2012 the candidacy of the former president of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Nicolae Timofti, was voted to be the president. Therefore, the constitutional crisis lasted for about two and a half years (from September 2009 to March 2012).

This text is a translation. The original article can be found here.

Photo: privesc.eu

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Opinion

Ludovic Orban about the Government of Moldova: “Everything that recently happened in Moldova represents a devolution that worries us.”

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Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban declared in a press conference yesterday, as he paid an official visit to Brussels, that what happened in the Republic of Moldova after the Government led by Maia Sandu fell is a “devolution”, urging European officials “to look at this situation with maximum circumspection and exigency,” as he is cited by a Romanian news outlet.

“Everything that has recently happened in the Republic of Moldova represents a devolution, which worries us, and, from our point of view, the current Government can’t be considered a trustworthy partner.”

Ludovic Orban met with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, but also with other European officials and transmitted a message to them.

The Romanian PM called for maximum circumspection regarding what happens in the Republic of Moldova. “I expressed my position to both the Commissioner for Enlargement and other European officials. I told them to to look with maximum circumspection and with maximum exigency to everything that happens in the Republic of Moldova and, basically, if the commitments that have been made regarding the European orientation of the country are not respected, the European Union, the European Commission should react accordingly,” added Ludovic Orban.

“In the context of discussions with the Neighbourhood Commission official, the Prime Minister of Romania also referred to the recent developments in the Republic of Moldova, expressing support for a strict and conditional approach from the European Union, which will allow the continuation of internal reforms, especially those of judiciary, for the benefit of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova,” it is also mentioned in a press release published on the official page of the Government of Romania.

Photo: Facebook/Ludovic Orban

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