Expert: Moldova Blundering Freedom Granted by EU

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Sergey CHEBAN According to Sergey CHEBAN, Moldova clearly demonstrates how new European opportunities are abused by the authorities for personal purposes.

Excessive Expectations

In commentary to RTA, the expert notes that the Eastern Partnership program failed because it did not take into account the “human factor”. The analyst thinks that the elites of Moldova and Ukraine took the favour of Brussels as a matter of fact. Cheban is sure that Kiev and Chisinau still have no real understanding of democracy and desire to follow its values. “The Moldovan society has a one-sided picture of life in Europe, a false belief that the smooth roads and public order appear by themselves, it is only necessary to hang the EU flag. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it actually turned out that way. The Moldovan authorities perceived the European integration as a “gift from heaven”, and when having realized that European partners are patient enough, they began to abuse this tolerance. As a result, the country has been striving for Europe during nine years, but in practice it has been fetching a circuit,” the expert says. “The current government of Moldova is all the same post-Soviet oligarchs and authoritarian politicians who made a fortune at the sale of the national economy and predatory privatization. For them, the country is first of all a source of enrichment, and this view of life determines mostly behaviour of local politicians. It's enough to look at how stubbornly officials and top managers hold on to power,” Sergey Cheban points out. According to the analyst, Moldova and Ukraine managed to create the illusion of moving towards Europe for a long time, because many things had to be repeated following the European partners: to implement the recommendations, to change the legislation, to introduce the rules, especially since most of the reforms were financed by Europe. The expert also notes that Ukraine and Moldova developed a wide network of pro-European NGOs, the civil sector, which became the conductor of the first reforms. “Therefore, when it came to formal configuration, Moldova easily put on a “success story” dress. When it came to maintenance, problems began,” Cheban says.

Poor Results

Of course, Brussels understood that some funds allocated to Moldova have not achieved their goal and have been “lost” somewhere along the way. Years later, such “technical” losses in the form of corruption and inefficiency of reforms no longer satisfied European officials, and the theft of a billion forced to reconsider the approach to Moldova. “At a certain stage, partners in the European Union realized that progress cannot be made in such fundamental areas as judicial reform or the fight against corruption, because the authorities themselves are not interested in them. Perhaps, the authors of the “Eastern Partnership” were wrong about the politicians of Moldova. Anyway, Europeans today have to admit that a huge part of financial and political support of Moldova was used by the authorities to strengthen personal power. It resulted in the cooling of relations between the EU and Moldova,” Cheban believes. The expert notes that it has become difficult to hide the “Moldovan deadlock” in the European foreign policy. He recalls that the other day a mission of the National Democratic Institute, Washington, presented a report on Moldova mentioning abuses in the judicial system and pre-election pressure on candidates. According to Cheban, such conclusions from Western experts are an alarming signal, which “is more dangerous than criticism of officials.” “Conclusions of various expert and non-governmental centres support the policy of the European and American authorities. The more such disappointing reports on Moldova, the more reasons for foreign partners to pressure on particular people and political forces in the country. If the civil sector is involved in the “poisoning” of the local authorities, it means that Europe and the U.S. have more than serious claims against Chisinau,” Cheban says. According to Cheban, Moldova and Ukraine are “hanging” today. The European Union has invested huge money in the modernization of these countries, and they are still an asset, but corruption and abuse of power make these assets a reason to criticize the entire foreign policy of Europe in the former Soviet Union. “Neither Moldova nor Ukraine have blundered the freedom that the European Union has given them. Now Brussels has only a few options: either to completely replace local elites or to reconsider own role in the future of these countries. Both variants do not bode well for Chisinau.”