Following a visit to Chișinău and Comrat from 4 to 7 February 2024, the PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of the Republic of Moldova, Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC) and Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica (Latvia, EPP/CD), have welcomed continued progress on the far-reaching reforms of democratic and rule of law institutions in Moldova, which resulted in the well-deserved opening of EU accession negotiations. At the same time, they noted that some of the stakeholders felt they were not sufficiently consulted or could have been more involved in the drafting process. The rapporteurs recommended that the authorities take note and, where needed, address these concerns as an inclusive and transparent reform process is essential to ensure the broad support and acceptance of Moldovan citizens, ensuring the irreversibility of the reform process.
Reform of the judiciary, with a view to ensuring its independence and integrity, has been a long-standing priority for the co-rapporteurs. They therefore welcomed the successful conclusion of the pre-vetting of the members of the Supreme Council of Magistrates and Supreme Prosecutorial Council and the start of vetting of Supreme Court and other key judicial positions. The co-rapporteurs expressed their full support for these vetting procedures and noted that the high rate of dismissals and withdrawal of candidates underscores both the necessity and timeliness of this procedure. At the same time, mindful of its impact on the judiciary and judicial process, the rapporteurs urged the vetting bodies to ensure that the vetting process is conducted swiftly and expediently to ensure that it is completed within the foreseen deadlines, thereby keeping any negative effects to a minimum.
In the course of the visit, the rapporteurs discussed preparations for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections with the relevant stakeholders, including with the Central Election Commission. They were informed by the authorities of their intention to organise a constitutional referendum related to the further European integration of Moldova in parallel with the Presidential elections. Welcoming the unwavering support of the authorities for further European integration of the country, they noted the concerns expressed about the timing of this referendum. They therefore expect the authorities to ensure that European standards on the conduct of democratic elections and referendums are fully respected when deciding on the question and date of the referendum.
The rapporteurs paid a visit to Comrat to observe and discuss at first hand the recent developments in relation to the autonomous region of Gagauzia. They noted that as a result of these developments many of the counterparts felt isolated, if not ostracised, which is of concern in the context of the internal stability of the country and its vulnerability to malicious interference by external actors and state parties. In the view of the rapporteurs, the authorities in Chisinau and in Comrat should resolve the stand-off in relation to the election of the Bashkan swiftly and in a way which fully respects the rule of law and due process. The swift conclusion of the investigations started by the Prosecutor General into alleged violations of political party and campaign financing regulations by the elected Bashan is, according to the rapporteurs, essential in this context.
The rapporteurs intend to visit the country again before the forthcoming elections take place.