IPN interview with the chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) Vlad Filat.
- You have recently launched a plan of the PLDM. What does it contain?
- Last Friday, together with my colleague Iurie Leanca and other colleagues from the PLDM, we presented the 2012 Plan of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova. It is our view on how Moldova should be developed by the end of this decade. Our plan is a very realistic one, with definite and measurable actions. We must achieve four strategic objectives by 2020 for our country to constantly make progress: to build an education system of a high quality; to create opportunities for the appearance of new jobs; to strengthen the rule of law in a corruption-free state, and to ensure a European future for Moldova.
- As it is less than six months until the next parliamentary elections, don’t you think that this plan can be interpreted as an electoral act?
- I don’t think so. It is the seventh year that the PLDM launches projects, policies and programs and almost all the major objectives that we presented to society since our party was founded were achieved or are being achieved. It doesn’t matter whether these objectives were formulated and made public during election campaigns or in the period between campaigns. What matters is that we set realistic objectives that meet people’s needs and, consequently, can be achieved. Over the last five years, we worked a lot for Moldova to become freer, to have a really open society and to become a European country. We took definite steps to have better schools and kindergartens and better roads, to build health centers and hospitals, water supply and sewerage systems, to reform the police, to ensure the rule of law and to fight corruption. The most important success we achieved is the right to move freely in Europe. Another important success for Moldova will be achieved in Brussels on June 27, when we will sign the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement with the EU.
- Why is such a long plan of action needed and how achievable is it in the current conjuncture?
- Life in general does not depend on conjuncture, not mentioning the existence of a state and a people. The development of society is a process that must be first conceptualized, visualized and then implemented step by step. If we want to go on and meet the European standards, we must have a perspective plan and know what we have to do now, immediately, and in the coming months or years. Yes, we managed to improve things in the country, but the living conditions continue to be difficult for many people. It’s true that now the people live in a much freer country compared with five years ago. But many of them continue to meet difficulties daily and many struggle daily for a decent existence.
We think that time has come for a national dialogue on how we must bring about the changes wanted by the people. One thing is definite: such changes cannot be implemented by a campaign, by empty slogans, by manipulation or sponsored protests. The durable transformation of Moldova implies a complex and long-term plan of action. The Plan 2020 we proposed is namely such a plan.
- Why did you decide to make education a strategic objective of your plan and what will you do in this sector specifically?
- Education is fundamental for Moldova’s development. It is the most powerful guarantee that Moldova will go on. An education system of a high quality offers the young people abilities and creative thinking, which are obligatory for achieving success in life. Better education means a better state because the people are more attentive to what the politicians do, discuss and debate the public policies.
We already took important steps for improving education. We increased the salaries of teachers, rehabilitated and constructed kindergartens, changed the method of organizing the Baccalaureate exams, fight cheating and take measures to motivate the students with good standing. The adoption of the new Education Code is the next important step. It will be a precondition for the development not only of education, but also of the whole society. The Education Code implies a series of durable and major transformations. First of all, the discrimination against students on grounds of ethnicity, spoken language, religion, disability or sex will be eliminated. The school curriculum will be modified so as to enable any young person to choose a modern European profession. There will be created an efficient mechanism for assessing the performance of teachers in parallel with the rise in salaries and the development of professional formation programs. The age up to which one must study will be raised from 16 to 18. I’m sure that these changes will create the conditions needed for the school and university students in Moldova to be more competitive and better prepared for life.
- The lack of jobs is a very serious problem in Moldova. The large number of Moldovans working abroad is a proof. What solutions do you suggest in this respect?
- We consider that every person able to work must have a job. A well-paid job is the most powerful weapon against poverty. A safe workplace is a source of dignity and is the basic condition for ensuring a good future for the children.
The PLDM acted and will continue to act to encourage the creation of private businesses. We will create better conditions for the small and medium-sized businesses to generate workplaces. We will revitalize and modernize agriculture by developing the processing industry, by offering competitive agricultural products, by diversifying the markets for our products. This objective is close to be achieved. During three years, we managed to offer three times more agricultural subsidies than the Communists in eight years. Today they invest subsidies, grants and loans in modern plantations, agricultural machinery, processing and packing lines. But this is only the beginning.
The Plan 2020 will bring about long-term changes for creating new jobs. Our view is that namely the private sector should generate most of the workplaces, while the Government should contribute to removing all the barriers and offer opportunities for the private sector to develop. We project that tens of thousands of jobs will be created during the next few years as a result of implementing public investment projects to repair schools and to build roads, kindergartens and water supply and sewage systems in every settlement. The national project to connect every household to water supply and sewerage will generate new workplaces and will improve people’s living conditions. Furthermore, we will open preferential credit lines for entrepreneurs, especially young people and farmers. We will attract investments to develop the national industry.
- What chances does Moldova have to become a corruption-free state with the rule of law by 2020?
- It has great chances if the measures of our plan are implemented exactly. We will institute a system for assessing all the judges in order to remove the unqualified and corrupt ones from the system. Until 2020, we will abrogate the immunity of judges and other officials so that they can be held accountable if they commit offenses. We will implement a new program to outfit the police with the necessary equipment so as to bring bribery and corruption to an end. We will ensure the efficiency of the police bodies so as o increase people’s trust in the law enforcement bodies of the state. We will extend ‘e-government’ and will ensure full transparency in the state institutions. We will take determined steps to eliminate the illegal payments from the health system.
- How far do you intend to advance in the relations with the EU by this plan after the pending signing of the Association Agreement?
Until we obtain the status of fully-fledged member. I say it with certitude. This will happen at the latest in 2020. Therefore, by 2017 we must obtain the status of accession candidate. We also aim to make use of the opportunities of the European integration process so as to reintegrate the Transnistrian settlements into the political, economic and spiritual life of the country. This way, our co-nationals form Transnistria will fully benefit from the progress we will make towards Europe.
We consider that Moldova must have a European future, but should simultaneously maintain close relations with Russia and with all the neighbors in the region. We have a European language. We have a European culture. The largest part of our trade is with Europe. Our citizens want European living conditions: more jobs; higher salaries; increased trade and investments; travel without restrictions; protected human rights; more opportunities for young people and women.
A European future also means an increased security level for Moldova. Yes, we are a neutral state and this is enshrined in the Constitution, but we cannot be neutral when we must choose our partners and the development course.
- This autumn’s parliamentary elections will be a test for the plan you launched. Do you think you will pass this test?
- I’m convinced that we will pass it. I think that Moldova will choose to go on. We know what was in the past and didn’t forget what kind of policies the Communists pursued and implemented. We must remember what they promised and what they did and realize where our country will go if we follow the path proposed by them. The party that ruled until 2009 kept Moldova enclosed with barbed wire and said that the visa-free regime with the EU is a fairytale. They compared the EU with the Third Reich.
So, there is a real difference between the possible resemblances. We launched the Plan 2020 because we believe that Moldova must follow the right path to great and important changes.
Valeriu Vasilică, IPN