On the domestic level this October was marked with a new controversial precedent after the Constitutional Court’s decision that had interpreted an institutional blockage between the President and the Government and the Parliament. The foreign policy debate focused on the potential outcomes of the Eastern Partnership Summit, and also Moldova became a subject of the debates in the European Parliament. Moreover, the Moldovan government was notified about the pause in the budget support payments for the certain policy areas due to the insufficient commitment for the reform agenda.
Domestic Policy. The Constitutional Court strikes again
The designated Minister of Defense Eugen Sturza was sworn in on 24, October after several public and institutional battles between the President Igor Dodon and the Speaker of the Parliament Adrian Candu. Although Sturza was proposed twice by the Prime Minister, Dodon refused to name him a candidate thus the situation became a target for the Constitutional Court’s (CC) judgment. The CC interpreted the President’s veto as a serious violation: his obligations under the Constitution are resumed to the right to check the eligibility.
The assignment of the Defense Minister resulted in more political overtones related to future 2018 parliamentary elections positioning between the Democratic Party and the Socialists Party
In this situation, the institutional blockage was solved by suspending the President Dodon from this particular issue, with his responsibilities taken over by the Moldovan Speaker. The reaction of the President came shortly, stressing the lack of the CC authority to institute any new constitutional norms. In conclusion, the assignment of the Defense Minister resulted in more political overtones related to the future 2018 parliamentary elections positioning between the Democratic Party and the Socialists Party than the genuine necessity of having a strong figure as a leader of a Ministry with a strategic value for the defense sector.
Foreign Policy. Debates on Moldova in the European Parliament
At the beginning of October, the members of the European Parliament took stock of the work in progress made by Moldova under the Association agreement. Two resolutions on Moldova proposed by the European Socialists and the European People’s Party (EPP) were debated. The European Socialists referred mostly to the need of reducing considerably the domestic political fight among the main political actors while the EPP emphasized the decrees of the democratic standards, recently proven by the change of the electoral system despite the negative conclusions of the Venice Commission. Some European MPs addressed the shortcomings in the field of rule of law and independent justice (impartial legal system, lack of willingness to recover the money stolen from the banking system, media freedom and freedom of opinion restrictions) as major conditionality to be put in place for the further financial disbursements. However, other European MPs mentioned the geopolitical challenge, namely the Russian factor that should be taken into account in the EU-Moldova dialogue.
On 25-26, October at the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee in Strasbourg, the message was reinforced. Moldova was requested to continue the reform agenda including the fight against the corruption at a higher level; focus on the full implementation of the justice reform strategy, as well as avoiding the polarization of the society in the parliamentary election year.
These two events unfolded several weeks before the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels (24, November).
Economy. From words to actions
Following the discussions in the European Parliament, the EU cut the last financial transfer under the justice reform program (which is 28 million Euro) due to the insufficient commitment shown by the Moldovan authorities in 2014-2015. The EU also paused the payments of the budget support in another four policy areas thus emphasizing the change of perception, as mentioned by Commissar Hahn, that EU is supporting the people of Moldova and not the government.