Declaration on Moldova’s European Integration Adopted – What For?

Home / Analytics / Declaration on Moldova’s European Integration Adopted – What For?
Christian RUSSU
The inability to implement the EU recommendations and to carry out the necessary reforms, primarily in the justice sector, force the ruling party to come up with new ways to prove its loyalty and to please the Brussels bureaucracy
By early last week, the authorities had to present the results of the implementation of the recommendations specified in the European Commission’s November report on EU enlargement. By that time, the complete failure to implement Chapter 24 “Justice, Freedom and Security” in the first section “Core Values” was already evident. To cover up this extremely unpleasant state of affairs, a whole lot of “fig leaves” were required not only from the Moldovan diplomacy, but also from the parliament. After the European Council opened accession negotiations for Moldova in December 2023, the election of the prosecutor general remained the main homework for our authorities. However, the cancellation of the contest at the end of February and the domestic political scandal presaged fiasco already at the international level. Two weeks after the incident, the European Commission provided the Council of the European Union with proposals on draft negotiating frameworks for Moldova and Ukraine. The “progress” report was presented verbally, and EU High Representative Josep Borrell came up with usual pathos: that it was a “step forward”, that despite the hybrid Russian attacks “Moldova has made progress in EU accession reforms and demonstrated impressive resilience”. At the same time, the content of the draft negotiating framework and its perception in the EU provoked a sharp reaction in our country. The day before these European Commission’s guidelines were to be considered, Cristina Gherasimov, the newly-appointed minister with no experience in European integration, had to hurriedly get involved in finding a solution to the problem behind the obscure terms of the Brussels bureaucracy. The draft resolution of the European Union Heads of State and Government meeting scheduled for 21-22 March included Article 32 in the Enlargement and Reforms section stipulating that the European Council “welcomes the progress of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova in advancing the necessary reforms on the EU path” and, in addition to submitting a draft negotiating framework for these countries, “invites the Council to continue its work”. In other words, there was no signal of political support in terms of recommendations to speed up the process within the EU. What is to be done with such a blow to the foreign policy ambitions of the PAS and its informal leader Maia Sandu when previously there was only encouraging news from Brussels? Moldovan European integration officials at special “explanatory sessions” had to listen to all the remarks and criticism for the failed work on the justice system reforming and to take responsibility for their sluggish colleagues. Doubts were apparently expressed about the legitimacy of the decisions of the prosecutor’s office, which is now for sure left without a head for an indefinite time. In order to quickly close this gap, the ruling party on the very next day, 21 March, in its usual hasty manner, introduced and immediately passed in two readings a bill to interpret Article 17 of the law on the prosecutor’s office, making the powers of the interim Prosecutor General indefinite. In order to remove the need for Maia Sandu to get involved in a scandalous situation and once again not to extend the mandate of the current head Ion Munteanu, PAS MPs simply clarified in the law that “interim” performs duties until a new prosecutor is appointed, without any restrictions. Such was the super-fast solution to the problem, which formally should have removed the legal uncertainty. In fact, it created an even bigger headache for European officials, given the understanding of how the Venice Commission will construe this move. However, apparently, this technical solution was not enough, and at the end of the meeting, the mono-majority came up with the idea of adopting a declaration on European integration. In the document, the PAS members referred to a similar document from the Voronin era. However, the ruling party did not even try to demonstrate the continuity and unity of all parliamentary forces, as it was two decades ago. Although, why did the young Europeans failed to remind the Communist leader of his epochal decision to lean West? But PAS either were reluctant to troll Voronin or thought that they had an exclusive and monopolistic right to such political actions. As a result, not all deputies of the home faction supported the decision: only 54 votes in favor, which in comparison with 98 votes given for Europe 19 years ago, seems not serious at all. It is noteworthy that the odious and aged Oazu Nantoi and Mihail Druta were the main speakers from the ruling party during the discussion of the document. Both of them had previously repeatedly quoted Lenin, including from the parliamentary rostrum, and this time, apparently, finally closed this chapter. The text of the declaration referred to the provisions of the already technically adapted Constitution of the state, which, on paper, is sovereign, independent, united and indivisible. For obvious reasons, the deputies did not mention the status of permanent neutrality. The basic provisions of the document, apart from praising the European Union, stipulate the irreversibility of European integration and accession to the EU. The legitimacy of this message was derived from the resolution of the participants in the European Moldova event organized at the behest of Maia Sandu last May. As a result, it turned out that the Parliament, represented by one party, approved a certain strategic vision of the country’s development on the basis of its own party event in order to promote the next event within the PAS electoral campaign. We can assume that the existence of such a declaration will be a safety net in case any problems occur when prepping for the referendum, or it will simply help with legal cover when formulating questions for the first such plebiscite in the history of Moldova. Given the synchronization of Moldova’s and Ukraine’s course towards the West, such things as recognition of its irreversibility in the Constitution are readily accepted in Brussels. Be that as it may, after all these manipulations, the final resolution of the European Council sounds much more optimistic. Thus, instead of simply asking the Council to “continue its work”, the European officials ordered to “quickly adopt” a negotiating framework for the two countries and to “start work without delay”. Thus, another signal of political support for PAS from the departing EU administration has been received. Now we can relax.