Moldova at a crossroads: EU and its alternative. IPN debate

A great citizens’ Assembly was held in central Chisinau on Sunday and its goal was to turn the Republic of Moldova into “European” or “more European”. In many cities outside Moldova, our compatriots came together in a large number to support the idea of the Assembly staged in Chisinau. Also yesterday, demonstrations that disputed the necessity of the European integration of the Republic of Moldova were held in three Moldovan towns. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Moldova at a crossroads: EU and its alternative” discussed the reasons for such geopolitical tumult in Moldovan society and the ways in which this situation influences the ordinary citizens.

The permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said that Article 40 of the Constitution provides that the meetings, demonstrations, protests, marches or any other rally can be mounted and held in a peaceful way without the use of any firearms. Also, Article 6 of the Law on Assemblies stipulates that the rallies can be organized by private individuals with full capacity, groups of persons and legal entities.

“Respectively, Article 3 of the Law on Assemblies, in the chapter about the main notions, provides that the meetings are the temporary and planned presence of a group of persons who come together to express particular ideas or attitudes. Answering the question, what is the legal status of the European Moldova Assembly?, we can say that this is a citizens’ rally convoked by public institutions, in particular the President’s Office and the Government. The Government was responsible for organizing the European Moldova National Assembly that was initiated and promoted by President Maia Sandu. Both President Maia Sandu and the ruling party PAS were mandated by the citizens to promote the European integration, special chapters from the electoral programs of Missis President and the ruling party,” noted Igor Boțan.

“If we refer to the European Union, this is an economic and political union of 27 European states. The European Union is governed according to the principle of representative democracy. The citizens are represented at EU level in the European Parliament. This is an important aspect as the European Moldova Assembly involved the President of the European Parliament. The member states are represented in the European Council and the Council of the European Union, while the European Commission represents the EU’s interests in general. If we refer to other alternative unions, two more options are characteristic of the Republic of Moldova: “Moldova, the fourth path “– neither with the Russians, nor with the Europeans or the Romanians, which was formulated by the leader of the Democratic Party Vladimir Plahotniuc, and the option that was promoted for a period by the Party of Socialists – the Republic of Moldova should form party of the Eurasian Economic Union. So, we have these three options,” stated Igor Boțan.

Director of the Institute for Public Policy (IPP) Arcadie Barbăroșie said that he took part in the event staged in the Great National Assembly Square and ascertained that the 75,000-80,000 citizens who came to the rally are pro-Europeans. They said they are Europeans and want in the EU. “The citizens who were present at the Assembly yesterday behaved absolutely differently than those citizens who were brought to the rallies organized by the Shor Party or the Socialists, Communists. They were free citizens. They went there to state their opinion, to support what Maia Sandu declared in her speech. The citizens said: yes, we are Europeans and, yes, we want to be part of the European Union,” stated Arcadie Barbăroșie.

According to him, this thing was clearly underscored when the resolution of the European Moldova Assembly was adopted. “In decisive moments, we can, for the sake of our common destiny, to be united and courageous. We are like this and can be like this. I realize that there are cases when the people are paid money to vote for something, but I saw how those persons who came to the rallies staged by the Shor Party were hiding, those who were more sensible I mean. Those who were insensitive voted what their leader told them to vote. Others didn’t even know what to vote. On Sunday, the situation was fully different,” said the IPP director.

He noted that the participants in the May 21 Assembly were very resolute when they said that they represent a determined nation whose people are masters at home and who can proudly defend peace, wellbeing, the children’s future. The people meant this when they said that they are Europeans. “Yes, the objectives were achieved in the way they were set by Maia Sandu. The announced goals were achieved,” underlined Arcadie Barbăroșie.

Alexandru Slusari, executive director of the Association “Force of Farmers”, said that he was slightly more critical of the European Moldova Assembly. He had some other expectations as regards the organization, continuity and end-result of this event, but cannot disagree with the assertion about the quality of those who attended the event. He was yesterday in the square and moved from the stage to the Triumphal Arch, to the Cathedral’s Park and other places and talked to the people. “We surely cannot by far compare these decent, informed people with those who attended the protests mounted by the criminal-political groups, where poor people, ordinary people organized by criminal-political groups were present,” said Alexandru Slusari.

He noted the cleanness that remained in the Great National Assembly Square after the event. “No litter, no sheet of paper remained there. I do not want to remind what was there after the so-called “tents town” and after the rallies of those who come because they were paid by Shor. It is a huge difference,” he noted.

According to Alexandru Slusari, through the angle of the foreign factor and Moldova’s image, the goal was achieved as yesterday Moldova proved that all the protests mounted in the country the past two years were orchestrated by criminal-political groups.  “I talked to a lot of people yesterday. As myself, many of them came not because they love the current government or because they do not have what to reproach the ruling party for. I do not refer here to Maia Sandu and we must admit this and make a difference. But many repeated what I also think – we want to show that the Republic of Moldova belongs to the European family and the vote given in the autumn of 2020 and in July 2021 wasn’t an accidental one, that the European course remains the major one and those criminals led by a fugitive who was convicted and those who robbed this country during 20 years will not be allowed to institute their order,” he stated.

Alexandru Slusari also said that the wish to show to Europe and the whole world that we are Europeans and that most of the people want to live as the Europeans do persists. But at domestic level, this event remains a single one for now and this is not enough. “Assiduous work is to be now done at internal level towards the European integration, with very clear explanations as to what is necessary, what needs to be done, etc. These things should be done in a professional way, consistently and by learning from the experience of other countries. The European integration should no way be allowed to turn into Euro-demagogy,” he noted.

The public debate entitled “Moldova at a crossroads: EU and its alternative?” was the 283rd installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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