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”.
MP Iurie Leanca: “I would like to say that on the 25th anniversary, the Republic of Moldova is a state respected by the people, in which the foreign partners have confidence and support it, but the realities are harsh”.
– How does the Republic of Moldova look like on its 25th anniversary of the Independence?
– Regretfully, I do not have nice epithets to use them on this occasion. I would like to say that on the 25th anniversary, the Republic of Moldova is a state respected by the people, in which the foreign partners have confidence and support it, but the realities are harsh. After 25 years of independence, this state hasn’t yet managed to justify its existence from the viewpoint of the ordinary people. It is enough to go through the country to ascertain that, for example, the migration wave is again large, that poverty grows and the people do not have confidence in a stable and prosperous future in the Republic of Moldova. The political system is marked by instability. We go through an economic crisis. It is also bad that the country is in a buffer zone between the East and the West and is now powerfully anchored in the civilized world, in the western bodies, which would bring here stability, prosperity, justice and investment. I regret to ascertain that Moldova is in a multidimensional crisis after 25 years of independence.
– You said that the migration wave is powerful again. Which are the causes and which could be the effects?
– The cause is very simple – when the citizens do not see that they can ensure a future here, especially the young people, they think about an alternative. For them, the alternative is to leave – to the East or to the West. Everyone chooses the system depending on the spoken language, education and qualification. Regretfully, in 2015 this wave returned. In 2014, statistics showed a particular tendency when those who went to work abroad returned home after accumulating a particular capital, after seeing that Moldova follows a safe course and there were prospects. After 2014, everything changed and the lack of confidence in tomorrow generates exodus. The effects are disastrous. We always said that the people are Moldova’s greatest value. Recently, I read that one third of the workforce left this system. Thus, only elderly people and pensioners will remain here. The political class must analyze why we reached such a situation. Nobody doubts it that Moldova reached a difficult situation. Our crisis is generated by the human factor in general. Conclusions are needed. We must get rid of our habits when accusing another politician, without providing solutions to the cardinal problems of the state, is the most important thing for a politician.
– Please speak about the successes and failures during these 25 years.
– These days I read in a British publication that the Gross Internal Product of Estonia per capita is about 5-7 times higher than in Moldova. We, after 1991, didn’t know what we have to do, where we must get to and what we had to do to arrive where we want. 2009-2014 is the only period when we had a particular national project. We set together the European integration objective and achieved particular results, like the creation of the common aviation area that liberalized the air services, and the liberalization of the visa regime. This success is much more appreciable, especially because Ukraine and Georgia do not yet have this regime, even if they want so much. And also the signing of the Association Agreement. These are the accomplishments and they are rather modest regretfully.
We are in an insecurity area. There are military actions in the eastern neighboring state Ukraine. We are in a turbulent area. We do not have a solution that would ensure Moldova’s security. We are too small and vulnerable. I don’t know if neutrality is a solution. Everyone understands that this is not a solution. We also have the Transnistrian issue. Our country is so small, but we face too great problems.
– What mistakes did the government and the people make?
– They say the people do not make mistakes. The citizens vote once in four years, in the parliamentary elections, where they choose those who are to rule the country and show that they have solutions and answers to the existing problems. I do not blame the people for the problems we face. The problems were created by those who governed us. I repeat that there wasn’t a national project. If we refer again to the Baltic countries, their objective was to create modern societies. The most important instrument was to join the EU and NATO. This ensured their military and political security as well as prosperity and advanced societies, without corruption, with reformed justice and so on.
This permanent hesitation to the left and to the right and up and down generated this confusion at internal level. In 1998-19999, we didn’t know what we wanted. Afterward, the Communists came and said that we move to the East. Later we came and said that we move to the West, but, regretfully, we made a number of mistakes on the way. Now, those who plead for Moldova’ reorientation are again the most popular politicians. This oscillation brought confusion, misunderstanding and mistrust in the political class and in the future of this state.
– You said that the people do not make mistakes, but it is we who choose the politicians who make populist statements. Why do we do it? Don’t we know where we want to get to?
– On the one hand, I believe in the people’s capacity to critically analyze the situation and to reach particular conclusions. On the other hand, this poverty makes the people think less about particular subjects of national interest. The poor people think only how to survive and do not use their creative, critical and other kinds of potential. Poverty definitely had a bad effect on the country and the people’s votes. When the only interest of the people is how to survive until the next pension or how to feed their family, the readiness to support particular populist persons is surely greater. On the other hand, populism plays a trick not only in Moldova. You saw what populism did in much greater societies, like the UK. Even if everyone provides serious political, financial, economic, commercial and military arguments in favor of the UK’s stay in the EU, the populist politicians managed to create a distorted perception that contaminated society. In our country, the poor society regretfully faces survival-related problems and the populists have a greater impact on the public. Society wants easy solutions, but such solutions do not exist.
I do not want to explain why populism is so popular in Moldova. There is also a vicious circle. Everyone says that they should bank mainly on the middle class. When we founded our party, we said that we want to be the party of the middle class. This class has a sufficient income to analyze things, to become involved in politics and to make a correct choice. During these 25 years, we failed to create the middle class and I don’t think that Moldova will be powerfully fixed on the upward trend until the middle class is not created.
– It seems that most of the Moldovan migrants form part namely of this middle class.
– The middle class must consist of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs who must be the driving force of the economy. In the European Union, the economy 90% consists of SMEs that are started today and can go bankrupt tomorrow, but they create jobs and easier adjust to the market requirements. We failed in this regard. We tried when I was Prime Minister to diminish the pressure on these entrepreneurs and to facilitate access to cheap loans and to foreign markets, but didn’t manage to and now I do not see a strategic thinking in this regard. Most of the Moldovans who left - the hundreds of thousands - match well this middle class. How can we bring them how when they do not see prospects? I’m convinced that they will not come.
Despite all the problems, a prospect was seen in 2014 as Moldova moved to the EU and we intended to submit an application for accession to the EU. The people thought that they could risk investing. Some came home, but then saw uncertainty and accusations. We speak much less about pensions and salaries. During a year there have been contradictory discussions on who stole the money, but I do not see a serious analysis of what we do with the justice sector reform and of the priorities for the next ten years. How can we become a technologically developed country and how can we reform education?
We must realize that today the middle class becomes more interested in the political process and wants guarantees that it will not be robbed. If they go to court, they want to be sure that the law is respected. When they pay taxes, they want these to be used for the benefit of society. The middle class, when it knows to occupy a much better place in society, becomes a catalyst for maintaining great pressure on the government. This middle class that knows to analyze things and to demand because it pays taxes is the most important objective. This class is usually more honest as it realizes the responsibilities towards the state.
– Let’s return to the notion of independence. What would you compare Moldova’s independence with and how independent our country is?
– In the world of globalization, the notion of independence has a much more conventional character and this refera especially to such small states as the Republic of Moldova because what is going on around the country affects us all immediately. We depend on the price of crude oil and on the developments on foreign markets, on assistance from abroad and on many other factors. The entry into the EU, which for me is a major goal, envisions the limitation of sovereignty in particular spheres, but you know what you gain and what the benefits are. Independence, in the understanding of the 18th-19th century, no longer exists. We live in a world of globalization that is very interdependent. We must understand the objective limits of independence and have an active foreign policy, not a defensive one that reacts only to particular developments. We must see where our niche is in this European conception.
– How do you see the country in ten years and what should we do to make the scenario optimistic?
– It’s definite that now we lag behind and not only as regards salaries and infrastructure, but also as regards technology. Our capacity to invest in science, in particular areas that bring benefits to the economy is very small. I said at the beginning that Moldova faces an economic crisis. It is very important to see how we can overcome it swifter and return to normality and how we can restore confidence and the prospects for this country. When we return to normality and have the capacity to analyze things in a more predictable way, we will be able to think more seriously about how Moldova will look like in 2025.
However, until recently we were rather pessimistic about the external prospects as we thought that we destroyed any chance to discuss the European integration after the suicide committed after November 2014. Recently, I visited Brussels and Berlin, where I had discussions with decision makers there and understood that we still have a chance. The Republic of Moldova has a chance and everything depends on how the political class takes it. It will depend on how we do the justice sector reform and the reform in the banking sector and how we depoliticize the state institutions. If we do everything right, in a year or two we can shape again another future for the country. Maybe I speak too much about the European integration, but I see no other solution for becoming a viable and functional state where we would live better. Look at other countries how they succeeded because they followed the European path.
It would be a pity not to complete what we started in 2009 for the people to be able to see that the Moldovans can feel well at home. I want to see a developed, stable and prosperous Moldova with satisfied people at home.
– The presidential elections are coming. Can they influence somehow the developments in Moldova?
– The direct election of the Head of State powerfully changes the role of the presidential institution. When the President wins the mandate of the people and their confidence, the presidential institution will have all the reasons to become a much more accentuated source of power. The President, according to the current Constitution, has particular powers in terms of internal policy and foreign policy too. Depending on the personality, experience and expertise and of the reform spirit of the new President, this can exert special influence on the developments in the Republic of Moldova.
– Imagine that a child asks you what he should be proud of as a citizen of Moldova. What would you tell him?
There are for now few reasons, but I would mention April 28, 2014, when the young and elderly people could travel to Greece with Moldovan passports only. Then, all the people on board the plane were proud of possessing Moldovan passports.
I admire and respect society, the traditions of our people, the way of life of the Moldovans. But this does not make me less critical of some of the vices and bad habits. Besides being hospitable and hardworking, we should also show more interest in studying, should be more courageous and invest in own businesses and should not wait for others to help us. The Moldovans have many good qualities, but they also have many negative qualities that can be explained by history, by evolution. We must think how to change the system so that the Moldovans show mainly their positive qualities and less the negative ones.
Iurie Leanca was a Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2009-2013 and then Prime Minister, in 2013-2015. He was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova and now heads the European People’s Party of Moldova.
Mariana Galben, IPN
The articles of the series “Thoughts about and for Moldova” started to be published on July 18. Among the protagonists are: Dumitru Alaiba, Iurie Ciocan, Ana-Maria Tulea, Ion Manole, Olga Gagauz, Stella Ciobanu, Arcadie Barbarosie, Nicolae Botgros, Igor Dodon, Eugen Doga, Ghenadie Galca, Iulia Iabanji, Petru Macovei, Igor Meriacre, Andrei Nastase, Mariana Onceanu Hadaca, Victor Parlicov, Maia Sandu, and Valeria Seican.