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EU: No Money for Moldova Until Chisinau Gets Tough on Corruption

Report stressed the need to tackle high-level graft, recover the money lost in the ‘theft of the century,’ and prosecute the culprits.

9 April 2018

joint report released on 5 April by the European External Action Service and the European Commission said that Moldova will receive 100 million euros ($123 million) in financial assistance only after some policies are changed, certain political criteria are met, and progress is made on a program that the country has with the International Monetary Fund.

 

Siegfried Muresan (pictured), vice-chair of the European parliament’s budget committee, told The Guardian “we are ready to make the money available. This is the right thing to do for a country in the immediate neighborhood of the EU to contribute to increasing stability, both economically and security wise. But we said subject to conditions.”  

 

Muresan explained that the funds, which would consist of 40 million euros in grants and another 60 million euros in loans, were frozen last year after Chisinau approved a controversial new electoral system that will see the proportional voting system replaced by a mixed system, with some lawmakers elected in first-past-the-post races. The move came despite warnings from the Venice Commission, an EC advisory body on law and democracy, that the law risked “undue influence and manipulation” of the political process, according to The Guardian.

 

Moldovan President Igor Dodon, often at odds with the pro-Western government, seems to have done little to calm the worries of the European Union. He wrote on Facebook on 5 April that he had met with Egidijus Vareikis and Maryvonne Blondin, co-rapporteurs for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)’s monitoring of Moldova. The president said he told his foreign guests that the situation in the country is a lot worse than nine years ago in the fields of battling corruption, press freedom, and judiciary reform.

 

“I emphasized that this was the reason why the degree of trust of the Moldovan population in the European Union almost halved, after the current ‘pro-European’ alliance came to power in 2009. The PACE co-rapporteurs said that the EU intends to offer help for the development of our country. I thanked our European partners, but I also urged them to help us put in practice and implement some real reforms in the judicial field.”

 

 

  • At least $1 billion dollars – the equivalent of a seventh of Moldova's GDP – vanished from three of the country’s banks shortly ahead of parliamentary elections in November 2014. The fraud has come to be known locally as the “Theft of the Century.”

 

  • Speaking back in 2014 during a public lecture at the Free International University of Moldova, U.S. ambassador to Moldova William H. Moser said that the “main evil in Moldova was corruption,” according to Moldovan daily Timpul.md. “This phenomenon is the problem that makes Moldova weak. Corruption crept into the social system, and from there it spread into all other fields.”

 

  • Corruption is also likely one of the contributing factors to Moldova’s massive population decline, as many get fed up with the lack of progress and decide to leave the country. Vlad Kulminski, the head of the Institute for Strategic Initiatives, an NGO bringing together professionals with executive and legislative experience, told Digi24.ro recently that as much as a third of Moldova’s population has emigrated since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, one of the largest population outflows in the world for a country that is at peace.

 

  • During a visit to Bulgaria last week, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Iurie Leanca said that Moldova was expecting the Bulgarian government to offer support and investment in order to raise the quality of education and improve the social and economic situation of the local Bulgarian community, according to Novinite. Leanca also mentioned that at least 10,000 Bulgarians live and work in Chisinau in various fields.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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