On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the declaration of Moldova’s Independence, IPN News Agency decided to depict the portrait of the current Republic of Moldova. For the purpose, it provoked a number of people, including state officials, politicians, businessmen, civil rights activists and persons without posts and titles, but who have what to say. The generic picture is called “Thoughts about and for Moldova”.
Dumitru Alaiba: “I love this country, but not for what it is, but for what it can be”
– How does the Republic of Moldova look like on the 25th anniversary of the declaration of its Independence?
– Sincerely, my impression is that Moldova on its 25th anniversary is a sad country with a level of pessimism that reaches record highs from year to year. It is a country where people consider that things go worse. This is not my imagination. Polls show this. It is the general impression of society. I see this way the Republic of Moldova on its 25th anniversary, but I don’t think that this is what was wanted 25 years ago and things definitely could have been better. If we had used these 25 years wiser, we would have had another country.
– When you say that these years should have been used wiser, what do you mean?
– We should have cared more about the country rather than about the own person and own interests, the own party. We should have stolen less and should have sometimes had less fear and have done what was necessary for the common good, even if it seemed risky. For example, we all have been witnesses to at least several negotiations to form ruling alliances. The national interest was somewhere down, at the bottom of the page. These politicians were elected to work for the people, but they work to promote their own interests. We reached a point when the main things are forgotten: they forgot where they get the money from, what they get money for and what for they exist in general. They imagine that they are a kind of boyars of the 21st century and this is a big problem and danger for us all.
– Some people, among who young ones, have the impression that life was better in Moldova before the Independence. Did a rupture occur then or in the process owing to which the people now live worse?
– I think this is a false impression. The people in the Soviet Union, especially Moldova, didn’t live better. For example, I tasted bananas first in the 1990s. Even if you had money, you had to wait for years to be able to buy a car, for example. And there are many other examples. I don’t think this is the model of welfare for which we should long. If the people didn’t die of hunger and were in equal conditions of poverty, this does not mean that we all lived better. Now we have everything. Social inequity is now the biggest problem. We have this injustice around us, when there are people who work hard throughout life and have nothing at all. But there are also people who lie, steal, betray and exploit those around and gain. This system is built not for people who work honestly. It is built by bad people for bad people. I don’t think that the people lived better in the Soviet Union. I do not compare with what we have now. I compare with what was there in other countries in the 1980s. Health protection was inappropriate. There wasn’t minimal respect for the people’s dignity, not mentioning the people’s rights. The people worked in factories in conditions like those for animals. They destroyed their health. There was no minimum respect for the environment and thus our health continues to be poisoned. I don’t believe that things would have been better if the Soviet Union had survived.
– If we lived badly then, a leap was needed so that we lived better now, as the Baltic states for example?
– Yes, how many people live, not only those from the Baltic states. How others from the ex-Socialist bloc live. We should not shift the blame onto others. We should first of all blame those we ruled in our country. They made mistakes one after another and didn’t have the sincere wish to develop the country. They never hurried and always had time. It’s just to make such a simple deduction after 25 years of failures, with one step forward and two steps backward. If we look at statistics, we see that the people in the Republic of Moldova, before obtaining independence, lived better than in Romania. In Romania, things are much better now than 25 years ago. Things changed to the opposite after 25 years. Someone developed the country, while others preferred to destroy it, robbing it year by year.
– Aren’t there any accomplishments?
– Hmm, accomplishments... First of all, it’s good that we still exist and do not have conflicts. It’s good that we simply have relative peace, which does not yet look good in the long run. There is peace and stability in the cemetery too. I don’t think we worked enough to name some of the results accomplishments. I think what we have is more the result of inertia than of our work or of the vision and work of politicians. At the start of the 2000s, the then politicians presented the facts that the pensions weren’t paid in galoshes and the supply of electricity wasn’t interrupted in villages as big accomplishments. Now, as we are in 2016, some boast of such accomplishments as freedom to travel in Europe. Someone said that even the Internet is an accomplishment of the government. These aren’t accomplishments. These are normal, elementary things to which people in other countries have had access during tens of years and of which we had been deprived until a particular moment.
The failures are yet many in number. Poverty is surely the first. It is the failure of those who had the occasion of doing reforms and didn’t do them for different reasons. We didn’t succeed in building a country of which we would be proud. The fact that the people are not at all proud of being from this country is a big disappointment. I do not reproach them for this. I understand them. They came to such a feeling gradually because, sincerely speaking, this country have given them nothing but pain and disgust and mockery on the part of the government during 25 years. We also didn’t manage to build a society where there is harmony and this is another failure. We are not the first society with different ethnic groups. In our country, the ethnic minorities live in parallel. There is no understanding and respect between the nationalities that live here, regretfully. There is reciprocal ignoring. Different stimuli should have been provided from above, by the government, so as to unify this society. Instead of doing this, the politicians make us be hostile towards each other. The truth is that neither the majority, nor the minorities see why they should love this state. This feeling is experienced because of the irresponsible politicians.
– You say the politicians did nothing to unite society. Don’t they have the capacity or hidden goals are pursued?
– I think that first of all they do not have vision and capacity and this is seen in their speeches and actions. Without capacity and vision, and I refer not only to the consolidation of society, but also to any reform that should have been implemented long ago and to the unwillingness to do something good for the people to vote for you again, they resort to other, dirty methods to be voted, like for example the tendency to divide us. They have to present something in the elections. Meanwhile, while they are in power, they steal.
– Politicians are in a way the mirror of society. Shouldn’t we assume a part of the blame?
– I don’t think so. I see that they more often say that we deserve them and that they are our mirror. We do not actually deserve them. We deserve something better. Speaking about the current government, it is mathematically easy to prove that we didn’t at least vote for them. 16% of the people voted for them. A part of these were forced or bought. They lie when they now come out and say through their opinion leaders that this is the government we deserve. Maybe 16% of the population deserves this government, but the others voted differently. They now set a new record for impudence. Polls show that only 10% of the population considers that things in the country go right (which means that 90% believe the opposite). We have a Government without legitimacy and an alliance in Parliament, which was formed in very obscure conditions, with a lot of suspicions of corruption. We have a Premier who is trusted by only 1% of the population. This is the administration that will congratulate us on the 25th anniversary of the declaration of Independence. What independence? Independence means being independent from those who oppress us. We have a state that does not represent us. It goes against our will and works against our interests. It is not our government. The only difference is that this government wasn’t chosen by another state to openly represent its interests.
– They say that migration changed in character and more young people who have decent work in the county and even higher earnings leave. Is it because we lose hope in a better future?
– I think that when you become a pessimist and do not believe in the future of this country, you decide to leave. I do not dare to blame someone of those who leave. They leave because they are forced to do this by a system that is strange to them. This is a system that was not built for them. The people deserve to live better and they will have a better life – if not here, then in another country. They should not be accused. Leaving is not an easy decision. I also left and then returned. It’s not at all easy to decide to leave. Everyone takes such a decision with difficulty.
– You went through our institutions. How is it to be there where decisions are made? How is it to be part of the system?
– I don’t think that I wanted ever to form part of the ‘system’. We seemed to be in the system, but were actually against it. I tried to do what I could. I did not enough. I know very well that we, several people in a team, would have done more if there hadn’t been so much indifference, and opposition too, or even sabotage. Simply, the interests are not to do good things for the people. My conclusion is that they do not love this country. They stay there and do almost nothing when they are paid by the people and have a driver paid by the people. By not doing their job, they do harm to this country. They hate this country. After a particular period to time, they also reach the conclusion that the country does not have a future, but do not understand that they are those who should have contributed to changing things.
– It’s not clear why they tend to obtain these posts if they do nothing.
– They do it probably because they would not pass an interview to be employed for a prestigious international company. On the other hand, they want to be chiefs. We are now ruled by people who cannot speak fluently at least one language, not even the mother tongue. If they cannot speak correctly, can you imagine how they think and take decisions?
– Let’s return to the Independence. What would you compare Moldova’s Independence with and how independent our country is?
– Is it independent? This county is as independent as the prosecution service or the National Anticorruption Center or any other institution that should be independent according to the law, but is not, are. We have an independent country on paper only, not yet de facto. An independent country is based on particular laws, on the people’s interests, when the decisions taken at national level are in the common interest, not in someone’s interest, and there is justice, equity, uprightness and mutual confidence between the state and the people. We lack such things, but they are indispensable in an independent country. I don’t think that we are really independent and are not fully independent namely because of those who congratulate us on the occasion of the independence holiday. When the state represents any other interest than the people’s interests, it’s hard to name this state really free and independent. In our case, the government represents not a foreign state, but one person.
– How do you see the Republic of Moldova in ten years?
– A lot depends on what we do today, tomorrow, in three or ten years. Things can remain the same or become worse. But they can become much better too…
– Is there place for worse?
– There is always place for worse. Our country can be like Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia. I think our politicians have similar views or they would not exist as they would be replaced by politicians of another kind. I fear we will move towards this if we allow them to do what they want. It depends on what we, each of those who are not satisfied, do. If we have an authoritarian regime, we will not have a good life. A lot can be done in 10 years. Someone, possibly Filip himself, said that the mentality should be changed, that several generations should pass. They make fools of us. They promote their interests and rob us, but say: “Wait because generations must change”. There are many countries where things were changed radically in three years. We have Georgia. We have the Baltic states. They started from the same point as we did, but in 2004 were already in the EU. The living standards there improved year from year because the people who ruled there worked for the common interest, not for them, because the population there was as confused as our population in the 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR. Poland in several years destroyed what remained after communism and rebuilt the economy. As a result, it never witnessed economic decline. There are no so-called oligarchs who control the state in these countries, while the state institutions there do their job.
– You said you left and then returned. Why did ultimately Moldova incline the balance in its favor?
– I feel that I can make the biggest difference here. When you are in your country, you can influence things somehow more. I’m in a period of life when I want to help and not to live for myself only. I think it is a rather primitive method when you live your life and think only about yourself and, possibly, about several members of your family. We live in a society. You cannot have a good life when the people around you die of hunger. We should also think about those who are around, not only about ourselves.
I usually say that I love this country, but not for what it is, but for what it can be.
– Imagine that a child asks you what he should be proud of as a citizen of the Republic of Moldova. What would you tell him?
– I would tell him to do something for this country and to be proud of namely that thing. You cannot be proud of only being born somewhere. This is arrogance shown by citizens of many states – from the East to the Wets. I would urge him to love his country and to do at least something good for it. We are small, but many in number and a nice thing can be achieved if we each do small good things. This way we can swiftly built the country of which we dream.
– How would you characterize the Moldovans?
– We often hear: “Eh, if we were like the Georgians”. There is the song of Nicolae Sulac: “God, give the Moldovans at least 100 Chechen people”. But I lately reached another conclusion. I don’t think that this is what we really need. We are peaceful people. If we are shown a direction, we will work to progress. These 25 years showed that we have patience. This is a good thing. But, if these people are not mocked and robbed daily and if they are offered a direction to which to tend and, working, to see that things improve day by day, these people would change the country. Those who are in power decided to exploit the people’s kindness and this is a big crime. Currently, 3 million people work hard for those who are in power to live well.
– “Thoughts about and for Moldova” is the title about which we thought when we decided to depict the country’s portrait on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the declaration of its Independence. In conclusion, what message would you transmit to those who, as you, decided to remain or return to Moldova?
– We must not believe those who say that we should wait. I do not want to grow old in such a country and we should not allow anyone to steal our youth.
Dumitru Alaiba studied in Moldova and then in Finland. During five years, he had worked in international consultancy. He lived in Finland, Latvia, Austria and Romania and coordinated development projects in another about 20 CIS and Balkan states. Since 2009, he had served for the Government of the Republic of Moldova, holding different posts. In 2013, he was named head of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister’s Economic Council, contracted by the EBRD. He resigned when the Filip Government was voted in, considering that this Government is the most illegitimate of those that ever ruled in Moldova.
Mariana Galben, IPN