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PACE co-rapporteurs: 'De-oligarchising' the Republic of Moldova should aim at consolidating state institutions

Following their visit to Chisinau from 22 to 23 July 2019, Egidijus Vareikis (Lithuania, EPP/CD) and Maryvonne Blondin (France, SOC), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by the Republic of Moldova, welcomed the steps taken to free state institutions from external and business influence, calling at the same time for the strengthening of democratic institutions.

“After the elections of 24 February 2019, the Moldovan Constitutional Court issued controversial decisions on 7 and 8 June 2019, which, for the Venice Commission, did not meet the conditions required for the dissolution of parliament. This plunged the country into a serious political and constitutional crisis. Against this background, a “temporary political agreement” was signed on 8 June by two main, albeit antagonistic parties represented in parliament – the Party of the Socialists and the ACUM bloc – enabling the formation of a parliamentary coalition and the setting-up of government established to fight corruption. The governing coalition also set out to “de-oligarchise” state institutions and ensure that they would now operate in the interest of the Moldovan people.

We praise the resilience and restrain of the Moldovan people during this crisis. We also noted that people have great expectations that the new coalition will change the functioning of democratic institutions. There is a pressing temptation from the authorities to swiftly remove state officials who were allegedly receptive to external influence and pressure and could now prove reluctant to “clean the system” from the inside and take the expected steps to restore rule of law. At the same time, we urge the authorities to bear in mind that the legal steps taken today to “de-oligarchise” the country will have long-term effects and should therefore ultimately contribute to consolidating state institutions, strengthening their independence and ensuring that new legislation and its implementation comply with Council of Europe standards.

The reform of the judiciary system and the prosecution office will be key to achieving the restoration of the rule of law. These legislative and constitutional changes, as well as the dismissal and recruitment procedures, should be based on clear and transparent criteria. Resolute action also needs to be taken to eradicate corruption, which was identified as a priority for the new government. The latest report published by the Council of Europe´s anti-corruption body GRECO on 24 July 2019 provides useful and clear recommendations about steps expected to be taken to increase the transparency and accountability of the state institutions, including parliament.

Also, we welcome the support expressed by the President of the Republic Mr Dodon for the initiatives that the parliament could take in order to ratify the Council of Europe “Istanbul Convention” to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, which was signed by the country in 2017. This ratification would be a meaningful step towards upgrading the protection of women’s rights.

Finally, we have witnessed that the current coalition, which seemed so unlikely a few months ago, reflects the will expressed by a large spectrum of citizens. This pragmatic agreement, based on the definition of common political objectives, is offering an opportunity to overcome, for the time being, traditional gaps in society and to restore the confidence of international partners and investors in the framework of a “balanced foreign policy”. Prime Minister Ms Sandu has engaged in a courageous and politically risky policy to normalise the situation and free state institutions from undue interference. We are supportive of the efforts undertaken to restore the rule of law and the proper functioning of democratic institutions. To that end, we strongly encourage the Moldovan authorities to further co-operate with the Council of Europe and seek the Organisation’s expertise and good practices. We also hope that this policy will succeed in improving the people’s living standards and provide them with strong, democratic-oriented incentives not to leave their country.”