Waiting for a new Moldova
BSSB.BE http://carnegieeurope.eu/ 14.09.2015
Have the citizens of Moldova had enough of leaders who have consistently turned a blind eye to corruption?
Judging from the tens of thousands who over the past few days have taken to the streets of the capital, Chişinău, this may well be the case. And not before time for this small, poor country that is sandwiched between EU member state Romania and Ukraine and where, since the 1990s, Russia has been meddling in the breakaway region of Transnistria.
CCsult inflation soared, and to plug the deficit, electricity prices were increased by 30 percent.
n normal circumstances, the government should have launched an investigation in a bid to clean up the banking system and the financial sector. It did nothing of the sort. Throughout the summer, the political system and the economy were virtually paralyzed. Streleţ’s new government brought no reprieve.
It is not only citizens who are fed up with the cover-ups and corruption. Moldova’s international lenders and donors, including the World Bank and the European Union, are taking stock of how to deal with the elites.
After many months—indeed, after several years—of trying to cajole the political elites into introducing major structural reforms, the World Bank recently withheld a $45 million loan. In July, the EU froze its financial and aid programs, which would have amounted to over €40 million ($45 million) for 2015. That’s a lot of money for a country with a gross domestic product of $7.9 billion in 2014. But then, ordinary Moldovans haven’t seen many tangible benefits of such aid.
Those who have had enough of the endemic corruption have left the country to find work in the EU. This has been made easier since the EU lifted its visa restrictions after Moldova signed what should have been a pathbreaking political and economic Association Agreementwith the EU in June 2014.
Those who remain and who are not contaminated by the political system have now rallied around the pro-European Dignity and Truth. is civic platform, established in April, is seeking the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti and of those who head the country’s financial institutions. The movement is also calling for early parliamentary elections.
Parliamentary elections will not make a difference unless the nexus between the oligarchs and the elites is broken. In that sense, Moldova is a microcosm of Ukraine, where since the early 1990s, the poisonous relationship between the oligarchs and national and local elites has made it impossible to introduce reforms and modernize the state institutions.
Precisely because Moldova is small—itspopulation is 3.6 million—size should have been an advantage when it comes to modernizing the country and completing the transformation of this post-Communist state into one with a functioning market economy. But there is a growing consensus among the EU, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that the elites have no interest in pushing ahead with reform.
The leaders of Dignity and Truth say the movement will remain a civic one and will not transform itself into a political party.
Our platform will remain civic,” said Igor Boţan, a political analyst and senior figure in the group. “It will remain an informal organization, nongovernmental, that will try to always be on guard so that those who come to power in place of those who leave, and whom we will initially consider to be an improvement, don’t get off track and return to oligarchy and corruption,” he added.
It’s almost reminiscent of Ukraine’s pro-EU Maidan movement, which ousted the former president Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014. Ukraine’s civil society groups have had to keep pushing the government in Kiev to deliver on reform. In Moldova, Dignity and Truth also seems determined to pressure the elites to reform. Their struggle has only just begun.
Author: udy Dempsey is a nonresident senior associate at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of theStrategic Europe blog. She is also the author of the book The Merkel Phenomenon (Das Phänomen Merkel, Körber-Stiftung Edition, 2013).
She worked for the International Herald Tribune from 2004 to 2011 as its Germany and East European Correspondent and from 2011 to September 2013 as columnist. Dempsey was the diplomatic correspondent for the Financial Times in Brussels from 2001 onward, covering NATO and European Union enlargement. Between 1990 and 2001, she served as Jerusalem bureau chief (1996–2001), Berlin correspondent (1992–1996), and Eastern European correspondent in London (1990–1992) for the Financial Times. During the 1980s, Dempsey reported on Central and Eastern Europe for the Financial Times, the Irish Times.