European Spring for Moldova?

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The European Union after the elections wants to see new faces in the Moldovan authorities Last week, in an interview with one of the Moldovan media, the EU Ambassador to Moldova Peter Michalko again criticized authorities of the Republic of Moldova. Since his appointment to Moldova, the European diplomat almost has not changed his claims against the country’s leadership: the government is accused of regressing democracy, absence of reforms, a stalled investigation into the “stolen billion”. Following Peter Michalko, in the last year Moldova was reprimanded both in the European Parliament, in the European Commission, and by European commissioners. According to RTA Permanent Expert Christian Russu, Democrats have completely exceeded the limit of Brussels’ patience. The European Union is waiting for new faces “The European Union is frankly tired of the corruption and inefficiency of the Moldovan authorities, their consumer attitude towards the European integration process. In recent years, the ruling Democratic Party finally discredited the idea of ​​a “European Moldova”: the key reforms failed, the allocated money went nobody knows where, and the welfare of ordinary citizens of the Republic of Moldova has not increased the slightest. Therefore, ceaseless criticism from various EU institutions is an unequivocal signal to the current government. Brussels is no longer going to tolerate the abuse of power that Chisinau carries out behind the European banners,” says the expert. According to Russu, the cold war between the EU and the democrats forces both sides to raise the stakes. “The Democratic Party arranges a big political show, blatantly opposes the “pro-Russian” socialists, speculates on the topic of the European future. That is, he is trying in every way to restore the location of European partners, or create a situation in which Brussels will be forced to support the Democratic Party in February,” the expert believes. At the same time, he notes that the EU does not yet fall into this trap: the criticism against Chisinau does not stop, and the macro-financial assistance to the Moldovan government is frozen. “After the elections, Europeans want to see new faces in the Moldovan authorities. They will apparently place a bet on a reliable pro-European opposition, which can more confidently lead the country along the path of European integration. Slight problem – the opposition must win,” the analyst adds. Victory of the PDM = no visa-free regime and collapse of the economy? As Russu notes, it is highly likely that the European Union will not recognize the election results if the Democratic Party of Plahotniuc wins. The official reason for this will be numerous violations of the electoral code, which are sure to be – the PDM has no chance to win fairly. “It’s hard to imagine a scenario that the Democrats give up power even under external pressure. As a measure of coercion, the European Union can use available ‘punitive’ arsenal: stop contacts with key Moldovan officials and even reconsider the agreement on visa-free travel regime, all the more there are enough issues with its execution by Moldova. In the end, Brussels can completely ‘disconnect’ the country from financial support, and this will be really serious,” said the expert. According to Russu, the power of Plahotniuc in the country is so strong that even the European Union will not be able to transfer it to the ‘right’ hands fast and smoothly. He notes that the likely conflict between the Democratic Party of Moldova and Brussels may drag on, and the longer the democrats are busy with their squabbles with Europe, the deeper Moldova will plunge into the abyss of the socio-economic crisis. “Moldova is already in an unenviable financial position. In contrast to external debt, the country’s GDP almost does not grow, and the third part of the budget revenues consists of international loans. The government, however, raises public sector salaries and reduces the tax burden. Of course, people like such decisions. But it should be understood that they are not based on real economic successes, and their background is purely pre-election. Democratic populism will have to be paid at the expense of an already impoverished budget, and this is impossible without external injections,” the analyst believes. In theory, additional funds can be found by returning to the country the notorious ‘billion’. However, according to the expert, the investigation into this case is proceeding at a ‘turtle’ pace – which was also repeatedly pointed out by Peter Michalko. There is only a hope for resumption of Western funding, including defrosting of EU macro-financial assistance in the amount of 100 million euros. “If their expectations are not met, the consequences for the country will be bad. Millions of non-backed lei printed by the Government for elections will inevitably ramp up inflation, which will cause a sharp impoverishment of the population. Surely the Democrats keep in mind such a scenario, preparing to fight for their power “until the last Moldovan”, the expert believes. “If the European Union really contemplates of ‘renewal’ of the Moldovan elite, the current regime will not receive any money. This means that the ‘European spring’ after February 2019 can become another shock for both the country and its people,” Russu is confident.