Where is the money, Ștefănică? Op-Ed

“The citizens of the Republic of Moldova should insist on one question: where is the money, Ștefănică, which is the incontestable proof of corruption? The question is absolutely legitimate, especially after the EU decided to provide again financing to the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, this question should be put also to the president of the Supreme Security Council Igor Dodon...”

EU is most important supporter and creditor of the Republic of Moldova  

The Republic of Moldova needs the assistance of the development partners, in particular the European Union, to solve a series of problems caused by the pandemic crisis. The necessity of external financing is clearly seen in the recent initiatives of the Government. The assumption of responsibility for the amendment of the 2020 state budget law includes the borrowing of €100 million from the EU for covering a part of the budget deficit that was raised to 8.1% of the GDP. It is also encouraging that the European Commission recently approved the disbursement of €30 million of the macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova, whose authorities fulfilled the political commitments set down in the Memorandum of Understanding of November 2017. Those commitments included measures aimed at: securing the management of the financial sector; doing the public sector reform; fighting corruption and money laundering; diversifying the sources of energy; improving the business climate; implementing measures to ensure the functionality of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

Furthermore, the EU expressed its readiness to offer the Republic of Moldova a €100 loan of the macro-financial assistance to help it alleviate the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. The first tranche of this loan could be received shortly after the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Moldova. This is how the conditionality mechanism works.

EU financial support and conditions for obtaining it

Judging by the aforementioned, anyone can see that the EU’s conditions for supporting the Republic of Moldova are for the benefit of our country and its people. We can only regret that the Moldovan authorities weren’t able to fulfill all the conditions negotiated with the EU in 2017 to benefit from another €40 million envisioned by the memorandum as a third tranche. Anyway, it is good that the ice broke and the provision of financial assistance was resumed. The initiation of negotiations and the approval of a new lending agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union, to offer Moldova macro-financial assistance, were approved by the Government in its July 8 meeting. The money is to be disbursed in two tranches, during 2020-2021. As it was noted, the provision of the first tranche of the loan is not subject to conditionality, while the second will be. That’s why the Memorandum of Understanding is to specify political actions that need to be taken to get financial support from the EU.

We see that the conditions are anyway indispensable. In fact, Prime Minister Ion Chicu mentioned the necessity of these conditions when he served as adviser to President Igor Dodon. Chicu’s indignation at the fact that the EU was earlier indulgent with the Moldovan rulers is echoing: “I think we should say a special “Danke shoen” to the European “commissioners” who wrote and dictated the “success story” after 2009 that ended with the theft of the century…, who offered to have pictures with “reformers” from here, (they) bear the BLAME FOR THE DISASTER IN WHICH OUR COUNTRY IS NOW!... Do they assume responsibility? No, I don’t think so. I hope we, the Moldovans, will show some wisdom at least now if during those years we could not realize evident things. We should avoid making the same mistakes”.

So, we see that the good things done by the EU are rewarded with dissatisfaction and accusations by the current rulers, who are the successors of the predecessors. So, for the EU not to be blamed for the thefts committed by Moldovan rulers, it should impose stricter conditions in the relations with the Moldovan partners.

Conditions that EU should impose by new memorandum

It is thus evident that the imposition of political conditions for disbursing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova is not only necessary, but also wanted, at least by Prime Minister Ion Chicu. The new draft memorandum with the EU stipulates six conditions, a part of which are overdue conditions of the memorandum of 2017, which made the provision of the third tranche of €40 million impossible. For now, the conditions are not known exactly. However, taking into account the situation in the country, especially in Moldova’s Parliament, the conditions should refer to definite accomplishments in fighting corruption, particularly political corruption. The assertions and statements of the high-ranking officials can serve as a reason for such an approach. For example, President Igor Dodon does not stop speaking about the “bandits” from Moldova’s Parliament, who buy MPs for  hundreds of thousands or for even millions of euros. Such statements have been made since this February, when a new phase of party switching started in Parliament. The apogee of political corruption was reached together with the mechanic oscillations of MP Ștefan Gațcan between the Socialists and the “bandits”, disturbing the balance of power.

About the buying of MP Gațcan, public opinion learned from the Head of State, who manages the Supreme Security Council. So, we have to presume that Mister Igor Dodon is responsible and knows what he says. Or, by his statements, he at least undermines the efforts made by Prime Minister Ion Chicu to attract financing from the EU. Indeed, why should the EU insist on the fight against corruption if this flourishes right inside the country’s Parliament, which is the most important institution of the Republic of Moldova? The EU should definitely react to what is going on in Parliament or it risks being again accused of BEARING THE BLAME FOR THE DISASTER IN WHICH OUR COUNTRY IS NOW!”

The truth is that an extraordinarily favorable situation for presenting uncontestable evidence of the corruption of MPs and for rooting out this shameful phenomenon by punishing the culprits appeared now. These proofs derive from the President’s statements of July 3 this year (min. 2.30 – 3.20), which should be only materialized: “I have known Mister Gațcan for a rather long period of time. I regret what happened to him during the past few days as he, on the one hand, spoiled considerably his image. On the other hand, he made a very big mistake when he allowed to be overwhelmed, persuaded or even blackmailed and took that step. I discussed with him not long ago. He came to me one day. He was slightly scared and told me that that someone of his relatives came and put €500,000 on his table as if from Violeta Ivanov. He told me this. I told him to go to the prosecutor’s office, but he refused to submit a denouncement. Surprisingly, but the President’s reaction to what he heard was of a counseling grandfather, not of the president of the Supreme Security Council. Indeed, Socialist MP Ștefan Gațcan made a confession about the cause and effect to Mister Igor Dodon – he received €500,000 for changing his political affiliation. And this happened, generating the furious reaction of the MPs of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), who isolated MP Gațcan and then ensured state guard for him. So, the money collected from the “bandits” is probably now with Mister Ștefan Gațcan, who simply didn’t have the physical possibility of giving it back. This money should now reach the Prosecutor’s Office as tangible evidence so that this examines the case of corruption till the end.

Regrettably, we didn’t hear this happening. We see that the Head of State and the Socialist parliament group now eulogize Gațcan for choosing them after oscillating between the Socialists and the “bandits”, securing their parliamentary majority. Anyway, this is not a pretext for not yielding the money, evidently to the Prosecutor’s Office. In such circumstances, the citizens of the Republic of Moldova should insist on one question: where is the money, Ștefănică, which is the incontestable proof of corruption? The question is absolutely legitimate, especially after the EU decided to provide again financing to the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, this question should be put also to the president of the Supreme Security Council Igor Dodon, who gave to us an example of intransigence towards the contractual relations with the EU: “Where is the money, Petrică? We have exactly the same question. By today’s amendments to the budget, over 1 billion lei that was to come from the EU will be taken out of the budget. It goes to the third tranche of the macro-financial assistance and some other projects. We hope a lot that particular support will come from the EU too”.

So, the EU is ready to offer money. The question is, how will the Republic of Moldova respond to the corruption fighting condition? 

Victor Pelin, IPN

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