Moldova: Internal political debates, ambivalent economic decisions and ambiguous foreign policy against background of natural disasters

Natalia Sterсul, the Foreign Policy Association of the Republic of Moldova

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The necessity of making changes to the electoral system of Moldova was the cornerstone of the April controversy. So far only one thing is clear: this step should be a well-thought-through and reasoned decision. A good time to make such a step is seen to be after the parliamentary elections. Some concerns are raised regarding the reaction of Transnistria to the decision of the Moldovan authorities not to purchase energy from the Cuciurgan power plant and implement joint control at one of MoldovaUkraine border crossing points. As for the foreign policy, along with the Association Agreement with the European Union, the President signed the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission

Domestic Policy: Is there a need for changes in the electoral system?

The issue of changes to the electoral system of the Republic of Moldova was the subject for the heated April discussions among the politicians, experts and civil society representatives. The Democratic Party proposed an initiative to transfer to a single seat electoral system with candidates considered elected when they receive the majority of votes in their electoral constituency. Those supporting this initiative emphasize that it will allow to create a parliamentary majority, and will facilitate the growth of responsibility and commitment to the people of Moldova among the MPs.

The speaker of the Parliament Andrian Candu said: “This system is more efficient from the representative point of view, since each constituency will be represented in the Parliament”. According to him, it will create the conditions for the society controlling the MPs. “Maybe the political establishment we have is the result of our electoral system?”this is an inherent question. It is indeed possible, but precisely what system does the country need?

Those against the initiative draw attention to the fact that it contravenes the Constitution (according the Part 2 Article 68 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the imperative mandate is invalid). The leader of the “Dignity and Truth Platform” Andrei Nastase named this proposal “an oligarch attack on fragile democracy“. The President of the country was not indifferent to the issue as well, having suggested a compromise with a transfer to a mixed electoral system (51 MPs are elected by party list voting, with 25% of the electoral constituencies provided to the diaspora and Transnistria). Common ground is yet to be reached , as it is precisely the political consensus on the range of the specific issues regarding the changes of the electoral system that is essential. The importance of a higher level political culture and professionalism among the political elite, as well as getting back the lost trust of the citizens to the political parties representatives and those in power, is obvious.

Economy: Changes on energy market and in transborder cooperation

It is still unclear if the Ukrainian side, represented by DTEK Trading, and the intermediary company Energocom fulfill the obligations they have undertaken to supply Moldova with energy. What are the guarantees of the energy supply? What are the chances of the energy supply price fluctuations depending on the market conditions? What measures will be taken in case of failure of the project by the Ukrainian side fault?

Apart from this wave of quite logical questions, the accusations coming from the Tiraspol administration took little to follow. The decision made by the Moldovan authorities to stop purchasing the energy from the Cuciurgan power plant was considered as “politically motivated” by the Transnistrian side. Moreover, the Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky named the actions of Chisinau  “an increased pressure” and “a challenge for the entire Russian world”.

The decision made by the Moldovan authorities to stop purchasing the energy from the Cuciurgan power plant was considered as “politically motivated” by the Transnistrian side

In this context implementing of the joint control at the crossing point of MoldovaUkraine border at Pervomaisk-Kuchurgan, in the central Transnistrian segment, stirred up the discussions.

This measure facilitates the process of the Transnistrian crisis resolving. It is expected that the joint MoldovaUkraine actions will deprive the Tiraspol regime of its main source of the incomesmuggling, without which the interests of the foreign powers will go down since this zone will no longer be seen as an instrument for a get-rich-quick program.

The economic situation was considerably worsened by the abnormal snowfalls in April. The power lines were broken, many villages and areas were left without electricity or any connection. The agricultural sector was damaged as well, namely, fruit plantations and some crops were affected by the snowfalls.

Foreign Policy: The start integration

Moldova continues enjoying a full-fledged support of the European Union, which, by doing so, extends the opportunities and advantages of the common borders of the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Implementing the joint projects facilitates the level of the regional development and the degree of their correspondence to the European standards. Furthermore, the priority list of the new agenda for the Moldovan export to the EU market under the conditions of implementing the regulations of the Association Agreement and creating the free trade zone between the Republic of Moldova and the EU is getting longer. This list now includes a bigger volume of the agricultural export, as well as the livestock export from Moldova. The tasks include a bigger volume of trade and a wider range of produce.

Meanwhile, on 3 April, 2017 the President of Moldova Igor Dodon signed the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission. The Republic of Moldova received the status of an observer state of the Eurasian Economic Union. The Prime Minister Pavel Filip stated that this document does not have a judicial power, as the head of the state was not authorized to take such a step without the Parliament’s consent