The recent decision of the EU to suspend the macro-financial assistance is a critical moment for the current EU-Moldova relations. The official EU-Moldova dialogue is marked by uncertainty and risks entering into a freezing phase. The lack of real action on behalf of the Moldovan authorities to solve the serious issues of functioning of democratic institutions and of the judiciary, endangers the comprehensive implementation of the objective of political association and economic integration with the EU, based on the common values set in the Association Agreement.
These and other topics were discussed on the 19th of September, 2018, during a round table dedicated to the Challenges and Perspectives of the EU-Moldova Dialogue on the Implementation of the Association Agreement. The event was organized by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms within the framework of the European Dialogues Project, implemented in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and in partnership with the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
During the opening remarks session, Ambassador Peter Michalko, Head of the EU Delegation in the Republic of Moldova, said: “We would have liked to see more progress and that democratic values become a priority. The Republic of Moldova has priority in its relations with the EU. This relation must continue and progress so that people would understand the benefits of the Association Agreement. People from the Republic of Moldova were the first ones in the Eastern Partnership, who, thanks to the Liberalized Visa Regime, were able to see how life in the EU is. This European reality should become a reality for Moldova as well, as was stipulated in the Association Agreement. We will continue our relations with Moldova, because the Agreement is an instrument that allows for the development and modernization of the country. (…) There are times when we do not see progress, when free elections are canceled. Our partnership must return to normal and we will continue to ask and expect the Moldovan authorities to respect its commitments.”
Valeriu Ghileţchi, the Vice-President of Parliament, mentioned that “one of the major challenges in the relationship with the EU was the change of the electoral system. I do not think that EU-Moldova relations risk to cease, and through dialogue we hope to find a middle way in our collaboration. The parliamentary elections are coming, and they must be correct, consequently a new period will commence in the relations of Moldova with the EU. In this parliamentary session, there will be made attempts to reduce the list of arrears and, as for the Action Plan its execution will be continued. I believe that we ought to continue to fulfill our commitments.”
The main goal of the Round Table was to provide an open and inclusive platform for debate to national actors interested in strengthening the real implementation of systemic reforms provided under the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. At the same time, during the event, IPRE introduced a list of concerns that require a continuous special attention from the national authorities, as well as from the EU, and the civil society in the Republic of Moldova, for example: preparation and organization of free and fair elections; implementation of the justice reform, resuming the process of development of a new Justice Sector Reform Strategy; strengthening of the rule of law; strengthening media independence and mass-media pluralism; ensuring a set of guarantees for the functioning and development of the civil society in the Republic of Moldova.
“Political will is essential to change. We can have very good elections, but if we do not have a bottom-up message, then this change will not happen. I understand that we are approaching the electoral campaign, but I think that the reforms must be completed because they are in the interests of the Republic of Moldova and of its citizens, and in two months much can be achieved”, said Vladislav Gribincea, President of the Legal Resources Center of Moldova.
The event was attended by representatives of national authorities, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary political parties, independent civil society and media experts, as well as by the representatives of diplomatic missions in the Republic of Moldova.
Mihai Popșoi, Vice-Chair of the Party of Action and Solidarity, stated that: “We have been protesting for several years, but citizens’ claims are not taken into account by the government. Moreover, the government uses various perfidious methods to diminish democratic processes. At the same time, the Association Agreement with the EU is one of the best documents Moldova has, and more than that can only be the integration of Moldova into the EU. However, the government sees only the economic benefits of the Agreement, and its political and democratic aspects are being ignored. I am optimistic, and I hope that the situation after the parliamentary elections will change.”
Earlier this month, IPRE presented the results of the 3rd Shadow Report on the implementation of the Association Agreement. According to it, there was very little progress made in the implementation of the commitments under the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. More details can be found in the final version of the document here, or you can watch the video of the event here.