Romania calls for political truce in Moldova

28/02/2013

The political crisis in Chisinau could endanger Moldova's efforts to join the EU.

By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 28/02/13

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Moldova Prime Minister Vlad Filat is at the centre of the political crisis. [AFP]

At the urging of Romania Foreign Affairs Minister Titus Corlatean, the Group of Support for Moldova's European Action is scheduled to convene in less than two weeks in Brussels to address ongoing internal disputes in Moldova's ruling coalition.

"I hope that, in the ongoing debates in Chisinau, politicians will primarily have in view the interest in advancing the democratic reforms, the rule of law and progress towards getting closer to Europe," Corlatean said.

The crisis, which is brewing between the three parties of the Alliance for European Integration -- the Democratic Party (DP), the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and the Liberal Party (PL) -- erupted in December when Valery Zubko, the country's general-prosecutor, accidentally shot and killed a hunting companion during an expedition that included high-ranking PLDM and DP members.

Zubko resigned after the incident, under pressure from the public and the opposition, but was never arrested. Instead, a member of PLDM was arrested for the shooting by the general-prosecutor's office, which is controlled by the DP.

In return, PLDM leader Prime Minister Vlad Filat threatened his party would leave the coalition, saying that the current alliance leads to the "oligarchisation and criminalisation of the country."

Things heated up last week when the National Anti-corruption Centre revealed that it has sound recordings in which Filat reportedly instructed Nicolae Vicol, former head of the Moldovan revenue service, to avoid the country's regular financial controls for some companies and freeze the bank accounts of a local politician.

The tapes, which were released to the public, sparked calls from the PL and DP for Filat's resignation. Filat has refused.

Amid the flaring crisis, the European chancelleries rushed their foreign ministers into Chisinau. William Hague, Radoslaw Sikorski and Carld Bildt -- the British, Polish and Swedish foreign ministers -- paid a joint visit to show support for Moldova's European aspirations.

The visiting ministers ruled out the possibility for the country to sign a stabilisation and association agreement with the EU this fall, as Moldova hoped.

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However, despite all of the current chaos, only a prolonged crisis would have serious long-term effects, analysts said.

"Fortunately, Moldova now has some sincere and benevolent partners who understand the processes it is going through. The EU has invested too many resources and too much hope in Moldova over the past three years to abandon it now. Sooner or later Moldova will become European," Vitalie Calugareanu, Moldova political talk show host, told SETimes.

Some citizens are also calling for an end to the controversy.

"We want to go back to a stable and, especially European, environment. I do hope the country's European vector is not endangered by this crisis," Slavic Saramet, president of the Associations of Moldovan Students in Romania, told SETimes. "

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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