Margot Wallstrom is minister of foreign affairs of Sweden, Jacek Czaputowicz is minister of foreign affairs of Poland, Tomas Petricek is minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic
Eastern Europe Matters
on the organization of the debate “Independence: steps forward and steps backward, in view of parties that held and hold administrative posts in the state”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
The 93rd debate held on August 24 , 2018, involved: MP Valentina Buliga, vice president of the Democratic Party of Moldova; Vasile Nedelciuc, a member of the Presidium of the first Parliament, chairman of the parliamentary commission on foreign relations; former Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari, ex-vice president of the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova; MP Iurie Țap, a member of the Central Standing Bureau and the National Political Council of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, and Igor Boțan, the project’s standing expert. The PCRM that governed the country during about 2/3 of the independence period refused on the eve to take part in the debate after repeatedly confirming its participation;
Why this theme and why this format?
This theme was chosen because, to be able to go on, from time to time we should analyze what we did up to now and how we did it, where we wanted to get to and what point we reached and the anniversaries of the declaration of independence offer us this opportunity. It is indicated and useful to do this periodically and this applies both to the citizens and the political class, especially the parties and politicians who were invested by the citizens with the right to take decisions concerning the country’s destinies and with responsibilities for the given decisions. That’s why it seemed useful to us to gather together, at the same debate table, representatives of the parties that throughout the independence period had control of the situation and took decisions in the state so as to follow, in a common framework, the string of events and, eventually, the involutions of the Moldovan state and society. The discussion is also useful because it can suggest particular solutions or corrections on the road to development of the Moldovan state and society.
Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert, said that no matter what they say about the Republic of Moldova, the country had yet a path that can be emphasized. This is the way in which the independence of the Republic of Moldova was declared – hostilities existed at the upper level, a putsch was staged on August 19, 1991, a parade of declaration of independences was held. “Our country had courageous people who in that situation signed the Declaration of Independence. Surely, everyone remembers that the Republic of Moldova was the last of the republics of the European area in the former Soviet Union that declared its independence. It did it in a particular manner – we never had a referendum on the adoption of the Constitution or a referendum on the proclamation of independence. A group of courageous people of that time did it and we should thank them for their courage,” stated the expert.
According to him, the first period of the declaration of independence was accompanied by the national renaissance movement that was also promoted by very courageous and respectable people from the first Parliament. The second period, of 1994 – 1998, was also very interesting. Pragmatics from the Agrarian Democratic Party came then to power and these people should also be respected for their pragmatism and for adopting the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, which was the most important merit of the second period. The European course started namely in that period, no matter what they say and no matter what attitude they have towards the agrarians. The then President sent two letters to the President of the European Commission for Moldova to be accepted as a candidate for EU membership. The foreign policy conception was another important document adopted by the Agrarians.
Igor Boțan said another period was that during which the Government was headed by Ion Sturza, who brought the barter economy in Moldova to an end. The country switched over to normal economic relations. Before the EU Helsinki Summit, he was dismissed and the government was taken over by Dumitru Braghiș. Later, the Party of Communists began its eight-year rule. Initially, this promised that Moldova will join the Russia – Belarus Union, but in only a year and a half President Vladimir Voronin signed the decree on the European integration of Moldova. Later, in February 2005, there was signed the Moldova – EU Action Plan and the European integration course was later reaffirmed when the new Government was invested for several months on June 16, 2009, after the so-called Twitter revolution. “The period of the so-called European integration of the Republic of Moldova followed. The Republic of Moldova was classed by the EU as a success story. The period that started in 2013 continues and it is not known how it will end,” stated the expert.
Vasile Nedelciuc, a member of the Presidium of the first Parliament and chairman of the parliamentary commission on foreign affairs of that period, said many big mistakes were made and the first mistake was when the representatives of the People’s Front in Parliament, he being one of them, accepted to field and support a Prime Minister who headed a Government where 80-90% of the members were not their representatives, but the representatives of the other MPs. As the People’s Front didn’t have a parliamentary majority, this was a fatal mistake. He tried to oppose even if his colleagues had no idea what Parliament and a parliamentary majority meant. As a result, he was labelled the man of Moscow and of the KGB. The second big mistake was that the people didn’t understand that it is practically impossible to keep or develop the industrial inheritance from the old regime if you proclaim the independence. Most of the factories were controlled by the center. With the proclamation of the independence by the state, Moscow itself initiated the gradual stopping of financing of the economic entities in Chisinau. But some continue to assert in a demagogical way that the Democrats came and destroyed the economy.
The third mistake, according to Vasile Nedelciuc, was a political one. The Union was to be normally made. As this wasn’t made, there was declared the Independence. When there was a war on its territory, it wasn’t the case for the Republic of Moldova to become a CIS member, before a solution was identified. The entry into the CIS and the permanent neutrality are millstones on Moldova’s destiny. The privatization that continued with the second Parliament was the fourth mistake. There were good things in that period too, such as the Declaration of Independence in rather difficult conditions. “The Declaration continues to be a key document and will continue to be so for many years ahead.” Also, the first Parliament was the one that opened the door for young people to studies in Romania, but also made the first steps towards the West and the first approaches to the Presidents of Europe.
“Are 27 years for a person a lot or not? This is an age when one has a lot of strength. I don’t know how much 27 years are for a state. Is it the start of its powers or the start of its history? But I’m sure that it is less than the life of a person as it is historically proven that the states live longer than a person. And if I started with this comparison with age, I would like to say that we are at the start and this start has its time sub-phases,” stated ex-Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari, then representative of the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. He referred to the period of 1994-1998 during which the second Parliament ruled and when transition started and instruments were needed to ensure this switchover. There was initiated a state reformation and development process.
However, in his opinion, no models of the state, of the economy and of the average citizens were created in that period and this was a mistake. “Years have passed since then and it is established that the average citizen didn’t gain too much and the dissatisfaction, emigrations and other negative processes derived from here,” stated Valeriu Bulgari. He noted that after 27 years, which is not much for the history of a state, not many of the current politicians realize what kind of state it is now being built. Even if statements are made, actions are taken and benefits for the citizens are announced, the opposite often happens. The aspirations and hopes that appeared when the independence was declared didn’t come true.
Valentina Buliga, vice president of the Democratic Party of Moldova and head of the Parliament’s commission on social protection, health and family, said the 27 years of independence witnessed difficulties, but also opportunities that weren’t taken, mistakes and failures that should teach us a lesson, but we should go on. Twenty-seven years for a country is not much, but this period is anyway a part of Moldova’s modern history and a written history of the past years is needed. The PDM in time took part by different formulas both in the government and in the opposition. In 1998-2001, the 24 MPs of the PDM provided political support to the so-called pragmatic government led by Ion Sturza. The foundations of particular areas that continue to function today, including the social, educational and health spheres, were laid then, including with the support of the Democratic Party.
According to the MP, in 2005-2009 the PDM was in opposition, but the party played an important role then too. “There were statements, strategies, laws adopted by 100 MPs. This shows that the national idea proclaimed at that stage, namely the European integration of the Republic of Moldova, united the MPs regardless of the parties of which they formed part.” She reminded of the first meeting of the four parties that in 2009 formed the Alliance for European Integration and voted in the Government of which she formed part. A lot was done even if mistakes were made and there were political crises or particular processes that should be assumed by each party apart because some of those who held important posts and were to do reforms and strengthen the institutions now criticize. Starting with January 2016, the PDM, alongside other colleagues, assumed the whole process of Moldova’s development and modernization and the determination to do this is maximal while the changes are visible.
MP Iurie Țap, a member of the Central Standing Bureau and of the National Political Council of the Liberal Democratic Party, said all the periods after the declaration of Independence saw both successes and failures. For example, the law on local self-government was a good start, but its implementation wasn’t appropriate. Under the Constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a decentralized state. But 24 years were needed to realize that this desideratum wasn’t actually achieved probably because there was insufficient knowledge and no vision. Among the accomplishments, the most important one after 2009 was the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU. According to him, Moldova cannot succeed without assistance from outside.
In another development, the MP said they didn’t manage to create a state for the citizens and that state of Soviet origin continues to exist in Moldova with small adjustments. There wasn’t created an efficient administration system and, regrettably, the political class does not want real reforms. The Moldovan parties weren’t classical, doctrinaire parties. “Usually, the leaders of the political parties and a narrow group promote sector, momentary interests, control the main flows of resources and manage the economy in their favor,” he stated. The Lib-Dem noted he tried to oppose, but the end result is tragic. The Democratic Party that had 19 seats after the elections now holds most of the seats of MP and, even if the PDM controls Parliament, it no longer represents the citizens. “The Independence is a facet of the principle of national sovereignty. The supremacy of power in the state is the second facet and when I said that the power was practically usurped because it is not representative, I meant that we have a state that actually does not belong to the citizens,” added Iurie Țap.
The Party of Communists that ruled in Moldova during about 2/3 of the Independence period refused to take part in the debate on the eve after repeatedly confirming its participation.
The debate “Independence: steps forward and steps backward, in view of parties that held and hold administrative posts in the state” forms part of the series of public debates that are staged by IPN Agency and Radio Moldova within the project “Developing political culture by public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.
The Agency published 6 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 24.08.18, „Independence: steps forward and steps backward, in view of parties that held and hold administrative posts in the state, IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/93204; on 25.08.18, „Valentina Buliga: Foundations of particular areas that function today were laid in the 1990s, including with PDM’s support” - http://ipn.md/en/sport/93209; „Iurie Țap: We have a state that actually does not belong to citizens” - http://ipn.md/en/special/93208; „Igor Botan: No matter what they say about Moldova, country had a path that can be emphasized” - http://ipn.md/en/special/93206; „Valeriu Bulgari: Non-designing of a model of future state was then Government’s mistake” - http://ipn.md/en/stiri-locale/93207; „Vasile Nedelciuc: Supporting a Prime Minister who headed a Government where 90% of members were representatives of other MPs was a mistake” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/93205.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN
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