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News 29 Mar 17

Moldova’s PM Visits Brussels as President Courts Moscow

Moldova’s pro-European premier is meeting EU officials in Brussels to discuss the country’s reform agenda while its pro-Russian president continues his policy of rapprochement with Moscow.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Moldova's PM Pavel Filip. Photo: privesc.eu

Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip heads to Brussels on Thursday to chair the annual European Union-Moldova Association Council, a forum for Moldovan cabinet members and EU representatives to discuss the country’s progress in implementing reforms.

The meeting comes at a tense time in Chisinau, as the rift widens between the pro-Russian President Igor Dodon on the one side, and Filip’s government and parliament, both dominated by pro-European political factions, on the other.

According to the agenda of the meeting, the council will examine Moldova’s reform process and review convergence between the EU and Moldova in foreign and security policy.

It will also discuss issues like judiciary reform and the fight against corruption, organised crime, human trafficking, terrorism and money laundering.

According to the EU report on Moldova, published on March 13, the country has adopted a number of reforms on judiciary, corruption and public administration, but needs to work more on respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, to strengthen the justice system.

"Perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development," the report says.

Moldova adopted reforms intended to restore macro-financial stability following the massive banking fraud it experienced in 2014, when a billion dollars vanished from accounts in three banks.

However, investigations still need to be carried out to bring all those responsible for the banking fraud to justice, and the business and investment climate remains negatively affected by widespread corruption and inconsistent policies, the report says.

"Ongoing consolidation of economic interests in the hands of fewer people also creates interference risks for public policy," it adds.

The report underlines the benefits brought to the EU and Moldova since 2014: the EU has become Moldova's main trading partner, with 63 per cent of Moldovan exports going to the EU, and around 50 per cent of Moldovan imports coming from the EU.

But despite this, President Dodon has spoken about breaking off the country’s association agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Economic Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s project.

Recently, Dodon ignored a warning from parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu for Moldovan politicians to avoid travel to Russia after several officials from Chisinau were detained or harassed on airports.

Chisinau believes this was retaliation for its investigation into a scheme to lauder 22 billion euros of Russian money through Moldova.

Although Candu announced that Moldova would not send an official delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the confederation of former Soviet republics, Dodon sent Socialist Party leader Zenaida Greceanii to the meeting in St Petersburg.

"We believe it is of great importance for our country to be part of the CIS," Dodon said in a message to the Parliamentary Assembly, adding that he was “convinced Moldova will continue its active cooperation” with the organisation. 

On Thursday, while the Moldovan PM is in Brussels, Dodon is scheduled to meet the leader of pro-Russian separatist territory Transnistria, Vadim Krasnosselski, who is close to Russian deputy prime minister Dmitri Rogozin.

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