Moldova criticized by European Parliament in debates on report on implementation of AA

There is concern about the continuous and consistent deviation by the Republic of Moldova from the European democratic standards. Regrettably, the Moldovan authorities continue to ignore the common opinion and recommendations of renowned European institutions, among which is the Venice Commission, in particular over the recent amendments made to the electoral legislation. There are departures related to the invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chisinau municipality and the lack of transparency in the case of the banking fraud. Any decision concerning the future payments from the macro-financial assistance should be taken only after the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019, on condition that these are held in accordance with the standards recognized at international level, says a report on the implementation of the European Union – Republic of Moldova Association Agreement that was debated in the European Parliament in the evening of November 13. The document is to be put to the vote on November 14, IPN reports.

MEP PetrasAuštrevičius, report author, said there is concern about the lack of transparency in investigating the banking fraud to the value of over US$ 1 billion. The two independent reports that describe the fraud should be made public and the persons to blame should be held accountable. The package of fiscal reform laws generates reservations and concerns. The fiscal amnesty scheme is doubtful and is illogical and non-transparent.

“In the light of the aforementioned, I say with regret that the European Union had no other possibility than to suspend for now the financial assistance for Moldova. Moldova seems to be the first country in the last few years that was subject to such important conditionality elements as the suspension of the assistance funds. I think yet the facts speak for themselves. While transmitting this message to the Moldovan Government, we simultaneously offer an open hand for cooperation with Moldova and with civil society there. I think that together we can achieve the common objectives and this means the Moldovans will understand that the European road is the same by political and European reforms,” he stated.

Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said the EU wants the Republic of Moldova to further apply the Association Agreement, but expects the same involvement level on the part of Moldova. The EU also wants to provide substantial assistance in improving people’s lives if the situation changes. The people should not suffer because of the political developments, regardless of parties, as the EU does not support a party, but the people.

MEP Rebecca Harms, of the Group of the Greens/ European Free Alliance, said the persons to blame haven’t been yet held accountable in the case of the theft of the US$ 1 billion. She mentioned also the invalidation of elections and the amendment of the election code, noting cooperation between Parliament and civil society is needed to improve the situation.

“During the past two years, the European Union became the most important commercial partner of the Republic of Moldova. At the same time, Plahotniuc and the oligarchs who serve Moscow destroy the rule of law and independent justice. Moldova is the poorest state in Europe, but Plahotniuc and his allies live in luxury. The invalidation of the election of Andrei Năstase as the mayor of Chisinau, the pressure exerted on judges, the violation of human rights ae reasons for which the European financing given to the Government should be stopped. The money should reach the people and when these take to the streets to seek justice, they should know that we are near them,” said MEP Monica Macovei, of the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists.

MEP Siegfried Mureșan, of the European People’s Party Group, said that a very clear message to the citizens of the Republic of Moldova is transmitted by this debate – that the EU is near them in the European integration process and the Association Agreement should be implemented. Despite the wish to help, the Government and the authorities of Moldova are now an obstacle that prevents the EU from helping the people. “If the Moldovan authorities do not recognize the free and democratic mayoral elections held in Chisinau municipality, it means they act against the people. If they do not ensure the functioning of independent justice, it means they act against the people. If they do not allow the citizens from the diaspora to vote freely, it means they act against the people. We will continue to be near the citizens of the Republic of Moldova with concrete benefits,” stated the official.

The European Parliament debated a similar report on Georgia. In this regard, MEP Cristian Dan Preda, of the European People’s Party Group, drew a parallel between the two states. “Moldova and Georgia are similar both in good and in bad developments. It’s good there is a European ambition in Chisinau and in Tbilisi, but it’s bad that politics is confiscated by oligarchs in both of the countries. It’s good that elections are held in Georgia and Moldova, but it’s bad that the people’s right to information is neglected as the politicians influence more the media than the media influence the politicians. It’s good there are commercial exchanges with the EU, but it’s bad that justice is politicized and corruption is enormous. It’s good that Association Agreements with the EU exist in both of the states, but it’s bad that Moldova and Georgia are only neighbors, not yet candidates for EU membership. To take this additional step, much more than ambition is needed,” stated Cristian Dan Preda.

MEP Andi Cristea, of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialist sand Democrats, said the citizens of the Republic of Moldova will wait for a balanced and objective institutional report from the EU, which would analyze the implementation of the Association Agreement signed in 2014, or for a common massage on the part of the political groups of the European Parliament.

MEP Laurențiu Rebega, of the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists, noted that a red line was crossed in Moldova together with the invalidation of the mayoral elections without providing plausible explanations and the European Parliament cannot overlook this. “There is a broad consensus as to the political drawbacks in Chisinau, but there is much less understanding of the realities at the place and of the geopolitical arguments considered unconvincing by the rapporteur. The report contains the expression “state captured by a group of oligarchs”. I think  it is much worse. It is not about the state, but about the citizens, who are captive and remain captive,” stated the MEP, wondering how the oligarchs can be penalized without sacrificing the citizens.

MEP Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, stated the European Commission’s decision to stop the financial support for Moldova is mistaken. “The given situation is already used by the pro-Russian and anti-European parties in the Republic of Moldova. It is important to support the pro-European parties in the Republic of Moldova now, before the elections, not after them, as the report and the policy of the European Commission envision. It will be too late if the Party of Socialists, together with Mister Dodon, take the Republic of Moldova to the Eurasian Union. It is time to support now the citizens of the Republic of Moldova to move to freedom, democracy, the European Union,” said the MEP.