Andrian Candu, symptomatic recidivism? IPN analysis

“We say the “government on the whole” because we are obliged to believe in the sincerity of representatives of the ruling party who say that the decisions are taken in a team, by common consent, and have thus the right to expect that the actions and statements referring to the development partners are not an exception…”

During a short period of time, Speaker of Parliament Andrian Candu, recidivated in particular statements that can be described as disturbing for the relations of the Republic of Moldova with the European Union and other development partners.

The first statement was formulated so as to be understood as being addressed to a concrete person, Romanian MEP Cristian Preda. In the second case, media NGOs that enjoy the trust and support of the development partners were subject to a frontal attack in the second case. The Speaker said these “do nothing but write projects, obtain financing from abroad and have to use up this money”, knowing very well that the funds to which he referred come mainly from the European Union and the United States of America. Taken together, the given statements that were made in a short interval from each other could suggest particular symptoms concerning new emphases, eventually future ones, in the relationship with some of the internal players involved in the appraisal of the European agenda of the government and, directly or indirectly, with the development partners themselves.

Scandalous statement combated with another scandalous statement

In this connection, the connotation of the first statement made on April 19 should be reviewed. The explanation provided earlier by Moldovan analysts, according to whom “Andrian Candu took away his mask of educated man”, could probably no longer be enough now. A politician of such a rank and experience as Andrian Candu definitely realized that when naming a MEP an “individual who tries to intimidate and blackmail”, he also attacked the other about 100 MEPs who supported the resolution formulated by Cristian Preda concerning the blocking of the macro-financial assistance for the Republic of Moldova owing to the replacement of the electoral system. It’s true that more MEPs, 170 in all, rejected the given resolution, but the difference between 170 and 105 (including the 11 who abstained) is not so evidently in favor of the government of Moldova for this to dare to make harsh and even “scandalous” statements, with the Moldovan Speaker showing the mentioned Romanian MEP does not have such a right, but he has.

With “battle ax” against EPP

The Speaker rather clearly targeted the European Parliament group of which Cristian Preda forms part, of the European People’s Party (EPP), which holds the largest number of seats on the European legislature and chairs almost all the bodies of the European Union. The members of this group repeatedly expressed critical attitudes to the government of Moldova, supporting simultaneously the opponents of the government that form part of the European people’s family – PAS, PPDA and PLDM. One can assume that Andrian Candu showed the battle ax to the EPP deliberately as, given his political experience, we cannot admit that he didn’t think about the impact of his statements when making them.

In fact, the Moldovan Speaker did what another Romanian MEP, Maria Grapini, did the same day. This described Cristian Preda’s initiative concerning the Republic of Moldova as “incredible”, “embarrassing” and “shameful”. But Maria Grapini made here statements from the political positions of her group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats on the European Parliament, and this perfectly matches the logic of the political struggle at the level of the European forum. Mister Candu would have also had the right to such replies if he had spoken in the name of the Democratic Party whose deputy president he is and that is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists, which has the second largest group on the European Parliament. But Andrian Candu spoke as the Speaker of the Parliament of the whole country and, in the best case, unnaturally involved the county in a political dispute between EP groups.

Angry with media NGOs because these came discontented to Parliament Building

In a “worse case”, figuratively speaking, Andrian Candu put his leg on the “red lines” of the Moldova –EU relations and then evidently crossed them in several days when making the second statement.

In a press briefing on May 3, the Speaker explained why he didn’t come out to discuss with participants in the Solidarity March that was organized by a number of media NGOs on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day: “They do nothing but write projects, obtain financing from abroad and have to use up this money. They made a habit of mounting protests on this day. But besides staging protests, they should better come and help do something”.

The given nongovernmental organizations responded to this attack that they considered unjustified by a common press statement in which they raised a number of aspects of the dispute initiated by Adrian Candu, but not all of them.

For example, the NGOs denied the accusations of non-involvement , reminded Andrian Candu of a series of important legislative acts on the media that appeared with the effort of civil society, namely: Law on Access to Information; Law on the Freedom of Expression; Law on Denationalization of Public Periodicals, etc. “At the same time, the representatives of media organizations form part of the working group for improving the legislation on the mass media that was created by Parliament and take an active part in the meetings of this group and of the subgroups, contributing to drafting bills and amendments,” said the signatories of the document.

Harsh criticism and high appreciation in relation to the same NGOs

But the Speaker didn’t need to be reminded this as in many of these cases he appears personally as the initiator or the coordinator of the joint activity with civil society. Respectively, not this is the real reason for his impulsive reaction to some of the partners from among civil society for which he expressed his high appreciation in public several days earlier, in particular for the contribution to drafting the new Broadcasting Code.  

The statement issued by the media NGOs only approached, but didn’t develop one of the possible real reasons for the Speaker’s assertions and didn’t refer at all to the possible targets of these: “In the current conditions, when there is no fair competition on the media market, when we continue to witness the concentration of media ownership, with the monopolization of the advertising market, these projects are of vital importance for the mass media. In the absence of foreign donors, the Republic of Moldova would have only party press or press that is fully controlled by politicians,” reads the statement.

Attack on institutions of development partners

The media NGOs and particular media outlets are able to fulfill their statutory tasks owing to the grants provided mainly by the Western partners. Thus, the reproach of Andrian Candu is directly aimed at the European and American backers, not at separate groups of backers, as in the case of the groups of the European Parliament, but at official EU and U.S. institutions empowered officially with such activities.

Bicefalous recidivism

In this regard, Andrian Candu’s recidivism of May 3, 2018 has even two beginnings – the new one, of April 19, and an older one, of last year, when the authorities proposed banning foreign financing for civil society organizations involved in the formulation of public policies. Civil society categorically opposed such an idea, but we can assume that the authorities gave it up primarily owing to the development partners that, I repeat, are the main backers of NGOs and other players that are officially, and mandatorily for the Moldovan authorities, involved in the reformation, modernization and Europeanization of the Republic of Moldova, alongside the authorities.

Legal role and place of civil society

The support offered by the development partners to NGOs is not based on subjective criteria that can be interpreted or influenced from outside, but on clear and obligatory legal provisions and goals, including for the Moldovan government as a party that signed the Association Agreement with the EU. For example, Article 33 stipulates that “the involvement of relevant players, including civil society, in the development policies and reforms in Moldova should be encouraged…”. Article 135: “a dialogue and cooperation between representatives of civil society, which is an integral part of the EU – Moldova relationship, should be promoted. In particular, this article stipulates: 1) ensuring of the involvement of civil society in the EU – Moldova relationship, particularly in the implementation of the Association Agreement; 2) ensuring of the participation by civil society in the process of taking decisions by creating an open, transparent and regulated dialogue between public institutions and representatives of the NGO sector; 3) facilitation of the process of building and strengthening civil society by supporting advocacy activities, formal and informal networks, etc. and by improving the legislation concerning civil society; 4) continuous integration of civil society into the process of adopting public policies in Moldova”. Or Articles 442-443: “Creation of the Civil Society Platform for exchanging opinions and formation of recommendations intended for the Association Council (superior body within the Association Agreement), and transmission of information to the Parliamentary Association Committee about the implementation level of the Association Agreement”.

The list of provisions can be continued, but it is already clear that the suspecting of civil society organizations that are trusted by the development partners of ignoble intentions and activities is an unfriendly act with respect to the Western donors.

Difference between financing from West and financing from East

The act is even more unfriendly if we take into account the fact that the same instruments as those used by the opponents of the European course of Moldova, which attack particular segments of Moldovan civil society for what they call “dependence on the sack of money from the West”, are applied. The given opponents do not want or cannot understand that the relations of civil society with the Western partners, on the one hand, and with the authorities of the state, on the other hand, are regulated by internal and external legislative and normative acts and are maximally transparent. Unlike the relations with other international players that are neither regulated nor transparent, if they exist. The opponents could again have the right not to understand this difference, but we cannot give such a right to a notable representative of the government or even to the government on the whole.

Uncompleted list of “symptoms”

We say the “government on the whole” because we are obliged to believe in the sincerity of representatives of the ruling party who say that the decisions are taken in a team, by common consent, and have thus the right to expect that the actions and statements referring to the development partners are not an exception.

What other symptoms of the subsequent behavior can reveal the “Candu recidivism” of the present days?

- Return to the idea of banning foreign financing for NGOs?
- Marginalization of inconvenient NGOs by bringing closer other, more flexible NGOs?
- Marginalization of media NGOs that represent the interests of the press a part of which, for its part, causes more headaches to the government?
- Exclusion of civil society from the dialogue with the development partners, with the ruling party monopolizing the prerogatives at foreign level by the model of reconfiguration of the political spectrum inside?
- Forcing the hand of Western donors/partners in terms of financing of NGOs for obtaining advantages in other areas?
- Something else?

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

P.S. Given the aforementioned reasons, it is hard to presume that the “Candu recidivism” was a simple mistake or a simple coincidence of circumstances. If it was a mistake indeed, the high level and rich political experience of the Speaker of Parliament could be shown by recognition of mistakes as well.    


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