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100 days of pro-European governance in the Republic of Moldova: achievements and failures

100 days of pro-European governance in the Republic of Moldova: achievements and failures
©EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU  |   Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita gestures as she speaks during a briefing after the government meeting in the Government building in Chisinau, Moldova, 19 August 2021.

The PAS administration marked 100 days since it took office by publishing an activity report presenting its achievements in 35 pages and 148 articles. The most notable achievements include increasing minimum pensions to 2,000 lei (some 100 Euro) as well as other allowances, solving the gas crisis, restoring lines of funding with the EU and the IMF and engaging in a series of dialogues with several European states. Overall, the Government in Chișinău had a number of accomplishments, but things are not as peachy as the aforementioned report suggests.

Solving the gas crisis – a victory for Moscow rather than Chișinău

First of all, solving the gas crisis was by no means a win, but rather an agreement Chișinău signed with Gazprom with both hands tied. The Republic of Moldova did precisely Gazprom’s bidding, although it could have been more unyielding in the negotiations. Energy experts in Chișinău claimed that Russia was not holding all the cards, and merely bluffed. First off, Moscow couldn’t have let its 220,000 citizens in Transnistria freeze to death, considering the only pipeline reaching this region crosses an area controled by Chișinău authorities.

Moreover, no gas would mean no output for the power plant in Cuciurgan, which produces and sells electricity to Chișinău, tantamount to a third of the budget of the separatist regime in Tiraspol. Shutting down the power plant not only would have left the whole of Transnistria in pitch dark, but it would have also caused serious financial difficulties to the separatist regime in Tiraspol.

After the Russians have injected two billion dollars in Transnistria in the last 30 years, not to mention the strategic advantage provided by this outpost in the region, it’s hard to believe Moscow would have left Transnistria for dead simply to get in league with Chișinău. Moreover, Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliță in fact warned Transnistrian officials that, should the contract with Gazprom be terminated and if Moldova were forced to purchase gas on the free market, they would have to pay in advance for gas supplies. Therefore, in this energy dispute, Russia couldn’t just slam its fist on the table and have its way.

Despite these facts, the government in Chișinău signed a five-year contract with Gazprom, which provides for certain limitations. First of all, we’re talking about a very high price, 450 USD per thousand cubic meters of gas in November, and approximately 400 USD for December. The method for calculating this price continues to be kept secret, which will only allow Gazprom to continue its energy blackmail.

In the report, the Government claims it “skillfully managed the sensitive natural gas crisis”, and that “the Republic of Moldova obtained a price twice as low compared to the current prices on European markets”. The report refers to the prices on free energy markets, but here we’re talking about a five-year contract which should by no means take the currently overinflated prices on the markets as a reference value, since they are expected to go down gradually starting January next year.

The deal with Gazprom was presented as a win, which hardly brings any benefits. Furthermore, apart from the high prices for gas that Moldova pledged to pay in Saint Petersburg over the next five years, now the Republic might also have to pay compensations to citizens facing energy bills that have more than doubled, as the price went up from 4.29 lei to 11.08 lei (some 0.55 Euro) for one cubic meter of gas.

Labor Minister, Marcel Spătari, estimates that the Republic of Moldova will need to pay some 10 billion lei (approximately 500 million Euro) in compensations over the coming period. Therefore, the first round of compensations alone exceeds the 60 million Euro Moldova received from the EU to help overcome the gas crisis.

Moreover, the contract with Gazprom will delay by at least a year the liberalization of the gas market in the Republic of Moldova, more specifically Energy Package no. 3 in the Association Agreement Moldova signed with the European Union, since the contract already specifies the volume of gas Gazprom is expected to deliver by October, 2022.

Transnistria – failures across the board

Another issue presented as a success is the Transnistrian file. To be fair, the report mentions this only towards the end, but in truth Transnistria was a political failure from top to bottom. The appointment of Vlad Kulminschi as deputy prime minister for reintegration brought zero leverage in negotiations with Transnistria, and the situation is as tense as it was two years ago, before the pandemic broke out.

To begin with, the mandate of this deputy prime minister, who in fact resigned some two weeks ago, invoking personal reasons, started with a crisis where Chișinău was trying to lobby in Kiev against denying vehicles with Transnistrian license plates access to its territory. The Foreign Ministry found itself in a position where, under orders from the Office for Reintegration led by Kulminschi, it asked Kiev to allow vehicles with license plates issued by the separatist government to enter its territory after September 1, although Transnistrians have had the possibility of registering their vehicles with neutral license plates for nearly two years, thus allowing them to travel freely at international level.

A second failure for Kulminschi and his staff was the first round of negotiations held in Moscow on October 21-22 with Gazprom, where the Moldovan minister accomplished nothing, despite the good relations everyone assumed he had with Moscow.

Last but not least, Kulminschi’s sudden resignation as deputy prime minister, which occurred shortly before negotiations in the 5+2 format over the conflict in Transnistria were supposed to be held on November 2-3 in Stockholm, Sweden. All that considering the parties to the conflict and the mediators of the negotiations had last convened in Bratislava in 2019.

Other issues overlooked in the report: the reform of the judiciary, Ukraine’s threats

The current administration failed to do away with “televised justice”, a phenomenon introduced by the regime led by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. In this respect, the arrest of prosecutor general Alexandr Stoianoglo recalled the arrest of former prime minister Vlad Filat during a Parliament session in 2015.

Another problem has to do with Parliament voting in favor of certain magistrates known to have integrity issues, such as the interim president of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Dorel Musteață, and a Chișinău Tribunal judge, Ghenadie Plămădeală. Early this month, both were promoted to the High Court of Justice, which attracted criticism from both the media and the opposition. In addition, the promotion of Maia Sandu’s cousin, Anastasia Taburceanu, to the office of Government spokesperson, did not send a good signal regarding the intentions of PAS, which before the election had promised to put an end to nepotism and clientelism in the public sector.

Last but not least, the Republic of Moldova continues to turn a blind eye to the situation on the Dniester, which accounts for some 80% of its drinking water sources.

After investigative journalists have shown that Ukraine is violating the Espoo Convention and continues its development plans on its side of the Dniester on the Moldovan border in order to increase the capacity of the Novodnestrovsk power plant, the Government in Chișinău continues to remain passive in a vital issue for the future of this country.

The effects of construction works and control of the Dniester are already devastating in the area around the Naslavcea dam. The water flow on the Moldovan side is intermittent, which seriously affects the debit of the river as well as the wildlife and plant life in the river area.

10 years ago, Moldova lost control of the dam during Vlad Filat’s term in office. Ukraine launched a series of negotiations with the Republic of Moldova, which are highly bureaucratized and used as a cloak while Kiev continues unbothered construction works on the Dniester. Even so, the meeting between the two sides, held on October 28-29 in Orhei, Moldova, was presented as a success.

What the report fails to mention – a warning signal

Natalia Gavriliță’s Cabinet fared better than previous cabinets, although there are a number of unresolved issues, a lack of experience and even blatant violations of promises made during the election campaign. The activity report of the first 100 days in office sends a warning signal, not in terms of its content, but in terms of what it fails to mention.

What’s important is for lawmakers to keep their wits about and start working on those difficult set of reforms in order to capitalize on the wave of popular support for the country’s pro-European trajectory. They need to deliver on the promised reforms needed to modernize the country and to improve its rating at EU levels across all sectors. The first 100 days in office are merely the beginning of a process bound to take years.


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  • The PAS administration marked 100 days since it took office by publishing an activity report presenting its achievements. Overall, the Government in Chișinău had a number of accomplishments, but things are not as peachy as the aforementioned report suggests.
  • Solving the gas crisis was by no means a win, but rather an agreement Chișinău signed with Gazprom with both hands tied. The Republic of Moldova did precisely Gazprom’s bidding, although it could have been more unyielding in the negotiations.
  • Another issue presented as a success is the Transnistrian file. To be fair, the report mentions this only towards the end, but in truth Transnistria was a political failure from top to bottom. The appointment of Vlad Kulminschi as deputy prime minister for reintegration brought zero leverage in negotiations with Transnistria, and the situation is as tense as it was two years ago, before the pandemic broke out.
  • The current administration failed to do away with “televised justice”, a phenomenon introduced by the regime led by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. In this respect, the arrest of prosecutor general Alexandr Stoianoglo recalled the arrest of former prime minister Vlad Filat during a Parliament session in 2015. Another problem has to do with Parliament voting in favor of certain magistrates known to have integrity issues.
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