on the organization of the debate “The stake of the Vilnius Summit as perceived by the Moldovan political class and society”, the 22nd installment of the “Developing Political Culture in Public Debates” Series.
Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Thanks to Debate 22, the Project saw further deepening and evolution. Besides the debate's speakers, the audience, too, participated actively, with inputs from reporters and representatives of some political parties. Due to this, the subject was debated multilaterally and in a highly competent manner. At times, the debate would grow so heated that it required the moderator's firm intervention.
Most speakers in the debate agreed that the upcoming Eastern Partnership's Summit, to take place in late November in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, is a new stage for Moldova and where a number of issues are at stake, on both domestic and foreign level. It was also agreed that the initialing and subsequent signing of the Association Agreement with the EU would mark the irreversibility of Moldova's European integration course. However, the Moldovans should not expect miracles immediately after November 29.
Valeriu Streleţ, the leader of the Lib-Dem parliamentary group, said that the Vilnius Summit would be a point of irreversibility. “It is a start, a rather important event, but in 2014 this start may be compromised. It depends on us if this beginning has continuity. We do not mean to say that miracles will happen after the Vilnius Summit. The people will obtain prospects of a better life.”
Democrat MP Oleg Ţulea said the Vilnius Summit is an important step that will provide answers to a number of questions coming from inside and outside. “We recently returned from a business trip. We got the impression that the European leaders attach importance to this summit and think about the events that will take place after it. For us, it is important that all the commitments be fulfilled. We have a tight agenda until the Vilnius Summit. We are concerned because these processes happen amid pressure exerted from inside and outside with the aim of preventing the Summit from being successful”.
MP Igor Dodon, the president of the Socialist Party, agreed that the Vilnius Summit was a major event, but had a dissenting opinion about its meaning. “It is a large-scale event that forms the political and geopolitical agendas. The stake of the authorities is simple – after four years they must come up with something. The European vector was greatly compromised by the Alliance for European Integration. Now they must come up at least with a success and with a new promise. We consider that the Vilnius Summit is a good stage for showing that nothing changed. The second, external stake is that the Eastern Partnership needs a success. The foreign partners must show that Moldova is a success story.”
Expert Victor Chirila, the Executive director of the Foreign Policy Association APE, thinks that the Eastern Partnership is an opportunity that has opened many ways to Moldova. “Once we initial this Agreement, we will start the signing procedures and it will become something inevitable. The Association Agreement is not a goods package to buy a couple of votes; it doesn't get you anything in your pocket. It just creates a framework for cooperation and association and provides a first opportunity to integrate ourselves into the European market. It won’t be easy. The Association Agreement, by creating the Free Trade Area, offers opportunities, but competition will be stiff. Inefficient companies will face problems. Political association offers a degree of solidarity that protects from external pressure. It will create a new political mentality and will impose a new way of thinking.”
Expert Igor Boţan, the Project's standing expert, thinks that Moldova is not actually the first issue on the Summit's agenda. “[Ukraine] is expected to sign its association agreement with the EU and this is the greatest thing at stake. Moldova is just a supplement to the process. However, what is at stake for Moldova on a domestic level is the country's modernization. The new situation will force the political class to make efforts to modernize itself. The ratification and signing of the agreement will probably have a positive effect, provided that everyone makes a common effort.”
The Agency published 6 stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 1 October, “Vilnius Summit is a new stage for Moldova” - , http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57272, on 2 October, “Valeriu Strelet: Content of Association Agreement with EU will be made public after initialing” - http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57282, “European officials attach importance to Vilnius Summit, Oleg Tulea” - http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57281, “Government needs a success and see this success in Vilnius Summit, Igor Dodon” - http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57280, on 3 October, “Stake of Vilnius Summit is Ukraine, Igor Botan ” - http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57305, “No matter who comes to power, they will have to accept association with EU, Victor Chirila” - http://ipn.md/en/arhiva/57306 .
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN