Public Debate: Resetting of relations with the EU: motives, chances, guarantees

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Resetting of relations with the EU: motives, chances, guarantees”. 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 23 July 2019, Debate No.114 brought together: Gaik Vartanean, Socialist MP; MP Dumitru Alaiba of the group ACUM/PAS; Iulian David, vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party and Igor Boțan, the project’s standing expert.

The last few weeks witnessed a change to the better in the quality of the relations with the foreign partners, especially of those with the European Union, which is the main development partner of the Republic of Moldova. Some of the politicians consider the relations with the EU were blocked because of the former government and appreciate the efforts made by the current government to restore these in a rather short period of time. The subject was discussed in a public debate entitled “Resetting of relations with the EU: motives, chances, guarantees” that was organized by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova.

The project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said the relations between Moldova and the EU are strategic. They were established immediately after Moldova declared its independence and persisted in time so that all the governments of the past had chapters concerning the relations with the EU in their administration programs. However, the relations started to be developed after the then President Vladimir Voronin in 2002 signed a decree on the European Integration Strategy of the Republic of Moldova. Later, on February 22, 2005, there was signed the Moldova – EU Action Plan that was aimed at accelerating the implementation of the provisions of the Moldova – EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. “This way, in May already, they discussed the EU’s involvement in the Transnistrian settlement process and the format of the Transnistrian conflict settlement talks was reviewed by the end of 2005,” stated Igor Boțan.

In 2009, the EU established the Eastern Partnership that was joined by Moldova. In 2010, discussions were launched on the liberalization of the visa regime and the visa requirements were abolished in 2013 and common work was being done on the DCFTA, which became part of the Association Agreement. According to the expert, the notion of “development partners” for the first time was introduced and widely used at the Brussels Forum of 2010. It was a short- and medium-term strategy for developing Moldova with €2bn financial support. The Association Agreement was signed in 2014.

Igor Boțan noted that after the elections of 2014, when the theft of the US$ 1 billion became known, Moldova’s relations with the EU entered a particular crisis. Later, there were made public the EU’s informative notes on the overcoming of the crisis by Moldova following the bank fraud. In 2016, the then Premier Pavel Filip said the development program was based on the given informative notes. “This is important in the context in which the PDM alludes that the current government does not have a development program and forgets that the development program they had was suggested by the development partners,” stated the expert. He added the relations with the EU worsened dramatically after the local elections held in Chisinau were invalidated. The European Parliament adopted two resolutions and it was decided to suspend the macro-financial support. “This was the highpoint when the Moldova - EU relations declined practically completely and were blocked. An impasse of two-three months followed this year’s parliamentary elections, but an alliance between the PSRM and ACUM Bloc was ultimately formed and things started to improve.”

Socialist MP Gaik Vartanean said Moldova throughout its existence regrettably needed partners that would help her technically and financially and by providing development models. The main cause of the freezing of the relations with the EU is related to the domestic factor. “It’s good that everything ended well and Moldovan society found forces and 70%-80% of the Moldovans at the elections voted against the former government, giving thus a grade to its actions, including to its relations with the foreign partners,” he stated.

The MP noted the “European integration” slogan served as a screen behind which the former government committed wrongdoings and the European partners got tired of its permeant unsubstantiated statements about the European integration. “It’s good that the current conjuncture allows us to say that the relations with the other states, including of the Wrest and of the East, are being enhanced. The former government found methods to get money at the expense of the own people and to isolate itself from the rest of the word,” stated the politician, adding the PSRM-ACUM coalition represents a consensus between the West and the East that is aimed at improving things in Moldova.

ACUM Bloc MP Dumitru Alaiba said the relations with the EU worsened because of corruption and the state capture. The destruction of democracy in Moldova wasn’t due to authoritarian visions or beliefs. This was a necessity of the previous government, first of all for surviving. “When you steal a US$ 1 billion and employ a multitude of corruption schemes, when you see that society is effectively against you and the people mobilize against you, take to the streets and form coalitions, different organizations, etc., when you see that the people are angry and you look behind to see what you had done during the past one-two years, you understand that if you lose power, you will find yourself in jail, not in the opposition,” he stated.

According to the MP, the limitation of democracy, freedom of the press and of each person, of the human rights is the price paid by the whole society for the PDM to remain in power. On the one hand, the previous government was disgusted by the decisions it was to take when reaching a particular point. “For example, the nullification of the local elections in Chisinau. I think it is a reasonable decision as, if your main opponent takes over the mayor’s office, you provide an alternative that can shake your vertical of power. Respectively, you have to resort to a particular abuse to keep power,” said Dumitru Alaiba, noting this was noticed by Moldova’s development partners and they expressed their bewilderment, concern, protest, but were ignored by the former rulers and Moldova was thus isolated at international level. However, said the MP, a new parliamentary majority was formed on June 8-9 and that was the best decision.

Iulian David, vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, said that even if the PLDM is not in power, the former party colleagues that are now in the government should avoid the mistakes made by the PLDM while in power. A lot of concessions were made in the process of forming the previous allowances and these later led to a political disaster.

“When the PDM took over, it showed what state a society that allowed not exactly legal things to be done can reach,” stated Iulian David, noting that if a European government principle is agreed, this should be respected. “The government should try and do at least this as, if we study its administration program, we see that the European development objective is mainly reduced to the problems in the justice sector that should be solved and to points that generate discussions in society, such as the de-politicization of particular institutions.”

The public debate “Resetting of relations with the EU: motives, chances, guarantees” is the 114th installment of the series of debates “Developing political culture through public debates” that are held with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

The Agency published 5 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 23.07.19, „Resetting of relations with EU: motives, chances, guarantees”. IPN debate” -
https://www.ipn.md/en/resetting-of-relations-with-eu-motives-chances-guarantees-ipn-debate-8004_1066995.html; „Gaik Vartanean: Main reason why relations with EU soured was domestic factor” - https://www.ipn.md/en/gaik-vartanean-main-reason-why-relations-with-eu-soured-was-8004_1066998.html; „Iulian David: European government principle should be respected” - https://www.ipn.md/en/iulian-david-european-government-principle-should-be-respected-8004_1067000.html; „Dumitru Alaiba: European Union is a collection of goods examples” - ; https://www.ipn.md/en/dumitru-alaiba-european-union-is-a-collection-of-goods-examples-8004_1067001.html Igor Boțan: Moldovans expect EU to provide rules for developing businesses” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-moldovans-expect-eu-to-provide-rules-for-developing-8004_1066996.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