Public debate: Political colors of international assistance in times of pandemic


Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Political colors of international assistance in times of pandemic”. 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”


Held on 12 May 2020, Debate No.133 brought together: Ilian Cașu, vice president of the Our Party; Alexandru Fetescu, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova and IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan.

The standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said the notion of “international assistance” and what this represents – grants, loans, etc. – was defined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that was founded about 60 years ago. “Why are such things being done? Because, after World War II, after we went through two catastrophes in the 20th century, everyone reached the conclusion that we are mankind – all the persons as individuals are more or less equal, with particularities. But the people live in societies and there are great differences between societies. There are very developed societies. There are less developed societies, but the people of these societies have the same potential. As a result, for economic advantages and out of human solidarity, the more developed societies are willing to provide assistance to less developed societies,” stated the expert.

According to him, the advantage is mutual as the societies and the economies that generate products of a very high quality want to exchange things, while those from less developed societies should be rather well trained and have the resources to buy them. As regards the Republic of Moldova, according to official documents, a special ministry existed after the declaring of Independence – the Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations. This body worked out the first documents concerning international assistance. The Republic of Moldova inherited from the Soviet Union the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that was signed in 1994 and ratified in 1998. There was also the TACIS that provided distance to former Soviet states.

Igor Boțan noted the developed states have special agencies, such as USAID of the U.S. This organization, as many others, offers assistance to Moldova and not only. “The Republic of Moldova, being in the situation in which it is and having modest potential, benefits from foreign assistance, but it depends on the authorities and the citizens how this aid is perceived. This assistance should be perceived with a feeling of gratitude for those who offer it. It should be clear that the assistance is provided for a particular period – a period of transition that is regrettably rather long. The Republic of Moldova should also develop in time an agency that would offer assistance as this is a manifestation of solidarity,” he said.

Ilian Cașu, vice president of the Our Party, said their party is represented only at the local level and has representatives in the administration of nine towns. “From the viewpoint of my colleagues-mayors, it is an enormous burden when the Center only entrusts tasks, but does not provide instruments. But the people expect problems to be solved despite the rather difficult times. Evidently, our party officially thanked all those who provide international assistance, humanitarian aid in hard times, when it is necessary. The political problem of the Republic of Moldova, and now we speak about the Dodon-Diacov-Chicu regime, is that this regime intermediates the assistance between donors and the people. We are convinced that all the donors, those who help, want this assistance to fully reach the citizens, those who fight COVID-19. And this role of intermediary, with the bandit-like approaches of the regime, creates political controversies,” he stated.

According to him, if the regime, the central Government is corrupt, there is no rule of law and institutions that would intervene and would eliminate these elements of corruption and the citizens are not the main beneficiaries, even if everyone wants this. “If we look at the period of the pandemic, we notice this shock among the citizens of the Republic of Moldova as they see that assistance comes to the country, donations are made to it, but the hospitals, primarily the strategic ones, lack basic necessities. The citizens thus wonder: where do the consumables go, where does the money go? And such questions are absolutely normal. We saw that some of the embassies in the Republic of Moldova do not donate money and I understand them perfectly as they are sure that if the central authorities intermediate the distribution of this money, a large part of them disappears as they are thieves and the money does not reach the destination. We saw the gesture of the embassy of Germany – 1 million lei, with consumables bought from national producers. Besides this charitable gesture, there is also this stimulus to help a national company,” noted the politician.

He also said that the problem resides not in the origin of this assistance, but in the fraudulent and non-transparent way in which this money is distributed within the central bodies. Ordinary people, business entities and foreign partners mainly provided assistance during the pandemic rather than the local authorities. “Knowing their stratagems, this political friendship between Dodon and the PDM, we can say that they are already experts in stealing. This is the perception of the ordinary citizens,” said Ilian Cașu.

Alexandru Fetescu, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), said the largest part of the international assistance is designed to support the Moldovan citizens, not the state institutions. However, when campaigns are carried out, the people do not feel this international assistance. Moreover, particular electoral exercises are approaching and the political power in Chisinau is being reconfigured. Regrettably, the politicians who are in power do what they know best – they strengthen their electoral position on particular segments. “The PLDM has insisted for a period on a view: union is needed to successfully overcome all the problems faced by Moldovan society, first of all at internal level. In the current situation of pandemic, there is no place for political PR,” he stated.

“Regrettably, we now have more political PR than awareness-raising campaigns centering on the problems faced by the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. Such a campaign should tell exactly the people what they should do and how they should do something so as to overcome this difficult period. Most of the international assistance that came to the Republic of Moldova, unfortunately, was distributed according to the political interests of the main political players.”

According to Alexandru Fetescu, the PLDM, which is represented only in the local public administration, through the agency of the over 50 mayors who undertook the difficulty of governance in this period, try to manage the situation as they can better. “Most of the local elected officials are delegated many responsibilities, but are not allotted financial resources and the way in which the resources are distributed suits the electoral interests. We should condemn such a thing and want the government to review it and to review its position and have a transparent and efficient communication campaign. Concomitantly, we would like to clearly see a plan of action for the quarantine period and the actions that should be taken in the nearest future. How will most of the business entities that stopped work resist? How will they overcome these harsh conditions? I want to say that the big problems only start,” noted Alexandru Fetescu.

The ruling parliamentary parties that are directly responsible for managing the situation in the field of international assistance didn’t accept the invitation to IPN’s debate, while the representatives of the opposition parliamentary parties that also have particular involvement in this issue weren’t invited so as not to distort the balanced character of IPN’s debates.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 12.05.20, „Political colors of international assistance in times of pandemic. IPN debate” -
https://www.ipn.md/en/political-colors-of-international-assistance-in-times-of-pandemic-ipn-8004_1073461.html; „Ilian Cașu: Humanitarian aid is campaign element for Igor Dodon” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ilian-casu-humanitarian-aid-is-campaign-element-for-igor-dodon-8004_1073464.html; „Alexandru Fetescu: Governments come and go, but EU will continue to help citizens” - https://www.ipn.md/en/alexandru-fetescu-governments-come-and-go-but-eu-will-continue-8004_1073465.html; „Ilian Cașu: Government entrusts tasks to mayors, but does not offer instruments” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ilian-casu-government-entrusts-tasks-to-mayors-but-does-not-8004_1073466.html; „Alexandru Fetescu: Assistance comes to help people, not state institutions” - https://www.ipn.md/en/alexandru-fetescu-assistance-comes-to-help-people-not-state-institutions-8004_1073467.html; „Igor Boțan: Way in which international assistance is received generates controversy” -  https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-way-in-which-international-assistance-is-received-generates-8004_1073468.html; „Igor Boțan: Purpose of international assistance is to help society in times of crisis” -   https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-purpose-of-international-assistance-is-to-help-society-8004_1073470.html.

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