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Important

Oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc to Trump: Moldova wants to be a bridge, not a battleground, between East and West

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In his FOX News editorial addressed to US President-elect Donald Trump, the leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vlad Plahotniuc, emphasizes that he hopes for better cooperation between East and West, at no expense for Moldova’s dream for deeper ties to the West. Of course, Plahotniuc chose to write the message on the behalf of all Moldovans by mostly using the pronoun We.

The Moldovan oligarch believes that Trump’s non-confrontational approach to Russia will help to reduce the pressure on countries like Moldova when choosing sides. According to the grey eminence Moldovan politics, Moldova cannot prosper when there is a struggle between East and West and a new Cold War. Plahotniuc also hopes that the United States of America will still continue to support Moldova’s path to the natural home in the European community. 

The Democrat stresses that a cooperation between Russia and the West in Moldova would offer some prospects for solving the Transnistrian conflict and other regional security issues such as Crimea, South Ossetia and Abkhazia:

“For more than two decades, the Transnistrian dispute has threatened the security of Moldova and the stability of Eastern Europe. But, if the United States and Russia are able to forge a new relationship more focused on cooperation than on confrontation, it could help foster constructive steps to resolve the secessionist standoff not only in Transnistria, but also in the territorial conflicts in Crimea in Ukraine and in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia.”

Plahotniuc also wants the US and the Americans to believe that Moldovans are rather pro-Western without being anti-Russian, since Moldova wants to resolve its differences with Russia, like the one over Transnistria, but also to expand the economic relations. Moreover, the Moldovan politician asks to not misunderstand the election of a pro-Russian president, because he holds a largely ceremonial position of president, while the Government is driven by a pro-West coalition, led by the Democrats, reportedly committed to closer ties to the EU and to implementing the Association Agreement.

Ironically, Plahotniuc stresses that, under his guidance, Moldova is solving problems like political corruption, economic barriers and weak rule of law, while striving for a free-market democracy and the rule of law.

The grey eminence also mentions that Moldova (or We) is on course to the ultimate goal of prosperous, entrepreneurial democracy, upholding legal and constitutional norms, that looks toward the West and maintains relations with all its neighbors. One can only guess what Plahotniuc meant by entrepreneurial democracy: Moldova as his own business.

Ultimately, the Democrat expects from Trump and the US to continue to be a partner:

“In this endeavor, the United States and EU are our inspirations, and we expect you to continue to be our partners.”

***

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan institutions.

There are suspicions that Plahotniuc secretly supported Igor Dodon in the Presidential campaign by using his media outlets to purposely denigrate the counter-candidate, Maia Sandu.

Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics.

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Important

EU official: “It’s been a long time we’ve been patient. We will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”

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Director for Russia, Eastern partnership, Central Asia and OSCE, and Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Luc Pierre Devigne, paid a visit to Chișinău today to participate in the 5th meeting of the EU-Moldova Association Committee.

He addressed a message to the Moldovan government during a press conference, criticising the way the reforms were implemented in the country, especially the way the famous bank fraud from Moldova, called also “the theft of the century” was investigated. Devigne considers inadmissible the fact that, after five years, the persons and companies that were involved in the fraud were not held accountable.

“It is unacceptable that after the theft of the billion was uncovered and deeply investigated by a leading financial investigation team – the Kroll company, whose findings were made publicly available, the investigation was still not finalised on various pretexts. We cannot believe that it is legally not possible to prosecute such a fraud.[…] It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that justice works in the country. We want to see an open and transparent process that includes not only the Government, but also the consultation of opposition, civil society and the EU institutions recommendations.” said Devigne.

The EU official told the Moldovan politicians: “It’s time for actions. It’s been a long time we’ve been supportive, we’ve been patient. Now, we will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”

“The EU has always supported the Republic of Moldova, but the EU cannot substitute for good governance and the actions that should be taken by the Government. Our support is not unconditional.”

He said that European assistance will depend on how laws and democratic standards will be respected in Moldova. Particularly, Luc Pierre Devigne mentioned that the Republic of Moldova should join the Anticorruption Network for an effective fight against corruption, strengthen independent media and improve the quality of life in the case of the Moldovan citizens.

Luc Pierre Devigne also referred to the subject of the Citizenship by Investment Law, on which the Government applied a moratorium, but only until February 24, 2020. The official was disappointed that people who obtained such kind of citizenship remained anonymous. “We do not see this as compatible with a serious and secure visa liberalisation regime. It’s a security issue.” highlighted Devigne.

One of the central messages of the EU delegation to Moldova concerned the importance of boosting the cooperation between Moldova and the community bloc.

At the same time, the Moldovan authorities reiterated their commitment to comply with the recommendations of international organisations such as the OSCE and the Venice Commission, and to ensure public consultations on major projects.

Photo: cotidianul.md

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Economy

Global Talent Competitiveness Index: Moldova when it comes to Artificial Intelligence

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The 7th edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) addressed the topic Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The index is used to rank 132 national economies, across all groups of income and levels of development, that representing 97% of the world’s GDP and 94% of its population. The report referred, first of all, to the level of innovation and technology development, exploring how the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

This year, Moldova ranked 86th out of 132 analysed economies, being ranked behind the neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Romania, which ranked 66th and 64th, respectively.

The countries that are best positioned to benefit from the AI revolution are also the most developed countries in the world, especially when it comes to the competitiveness and potential of attracting and training best professionals. Top ten countries in the ranking are Switzerland, the United States of America, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway and Australia.

New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, Boston, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Munich are among the most developed cities in this regard.

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source: insead.edu

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source: insead.edu

GTCI highlights

One of the most important observations made in the GTCI report for 2020 is that the gap between talent champions (almost all of them high-income countries) and the rest of the world is widening. Still, AI may provide significant opportunities for emerging countries to leapfrog.

The top of the GTCI rankings is still dominated by Europe, including the Nordic countries – a significant number of small high-income economies, many of them being either landlocked, island or quasi-island economies, including Switzerland (1st), Singapore (3rd), Luxembourg (8th), Iceland (14th) or Austria (17th).

According to the report, the key factor is developing relatively open socio-economic policies in which talent growth and management are central priorities in the age of AI.

Moldova

Moldova managed to get a score of 36.64, being ranked 86th out of 132 countries. It was classified as lower-middle income country and ranked 7th out of 32 countries included in this category. The country’s talent competitiveness index weakened as compared to the period between 2015-2017, when it was listed around the 61st position.

Moldova was evaluated with the highest scores for such aspects as gender development gap, ease of doing business, number of female graduates, competition intensity and political stability, while the lowest scores were given for its share of R&D expenditure, robot density, university ranking, number of registered researchers, scientific journal articles, labour productivity per employee, new business density and collaboration across organisations.

This year’s model of the GTCI index includes a total of 70 variables, up from 68 indicators used in the GTCI 2019.

source: insead.edu

Photo: cambridgealert.com

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Politics

Who is going to pay back the stolen billion? President Dodon proposed a new legislative measure

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A new legislative initiative was announced by the president of state, Igor Dodon. According to him, the burden of the robbed billion from the banking system placed on the shoulders of citizens will be reduced.

In October 2016, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova voted a bill, called unofficially “the Law of a Billion”, providing for the conversion into state debt of emergency loans of 13.5 billion lei, disbursed by the National Bank of Moldova (NBM) to the bankrupted banks involved in the “Great Moldovan Bank Robbery” that happened in 2014. The state debt, including the interest, was to be returned by the Moldovan citizens out of their paid taxes, over the next 25 years. The first payment of 668 million lei was made in October 2017. In 2018, another 827 million lei were paid. By 2041, a total of 24.5 billion lei will be paid. More details here.

“We promised previously to reduce or exclude the burden put on the shoulders of citizens following the stolen billion. At this stage we found the mechanisms needed to reduce this burden by 5-6 billion lei, so 25% – 30% of it. The project was also discussed with our external partners from the IMF, and is to be approved by the Government in the next few days, as well as submitted to Parliament for approval,” declared Dodon.

The whole mechanism idea is to transfer half of the profit of the National Bank of Moldova to the state budget.

The NBM management declared that the president’s legislative initiative is balanced and that it has been discussed with the experts from the IMF as well. “Such a distribution is possible by amending the Law on the National Bank of Moldova in order to introduce a model of phased and partial distribution of profits to the state budget until the level of 10% of the capital of the NBM is reached. This would be in line with international practices and could ensure the balance between the distribution of profits to the state budget and the gradual capitalisation of the National Bank,” declared the NBM representatives.

The mechanism proposed by President Dodon is not new for the Republic of Moldova. It was previously implemented and afterwards dropped out in 2003. “We already had such a mechanism. After 2003, this practice was stopped, as it was considered that the NBM profit should remain with the NBM in order to strengthen the capacity of the institution, so that it can intervene on the currency or monetary market in case of a crisis,” claimed the economic expert Veaceslav Ioniță.

According to the economic expert, the solution proposed by the head of state could have negative consequences in the event of an economic crisis, when the NBM would have to intervene and the Government would have to cover the NBM’s financial needs. The expert said the president’s solution could raise several questions from the IMF: “I think we will have to provide explanations to the IMF because it was the IMF that said not to take the NBM profit in the state budget, and we are going back to what it was.” 

The Dodon’s initiative was also criticised by the political opposition of the government. “The transfer of some income from one pocket of the state to another does not mean easing the burden placed on citizens. The solution for the Law (of a Billion) is to recover the money from those who stole it. […] The tactic of Igor Dodon is actually removing the money from the National Bank’s reserves to finance the huge expenses of the current government in the election year. The Moldovan Government has never planned to spend so much money, that has uncertain funding sources,” said former Minister of Finance Natalia Gavriliță.

Photo: unknown source

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