Moldovan CSO’s address to development partners on the state of some reforms funded by foreign taxpayers

Donald TUSK, President of the European Council
Jean-Claude JUNCKER, President of the European Commission
Antonio TAJANI, President of the European Parliament
Pedro AGRAMUNT, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Thorbjørn JAGLAND, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
Johannes HAHN, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations
Sven MIKSER, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Presidency of the Council of the EU
Peter MICHALKO, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Moldova
Eva GUTJAHR, Council of Europe Office in Moldova, Deputy Head of Office
Michael SCANLAN, Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova
Anna AKHALKATSI, World Bank Country Manager for Moldova
Volodymyr TULIN, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund in Moldova
Dimitri GVINDADZE, Head of the EBRD Office in Chisinau
Karen HILLARD, Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Dafina GERCHEVA, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
James PETTIT, Ambassador of the United States of America in Moldova
Julia MONAR, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Moldova
Lucy Joyce OBE, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Moldova
Signe BURGSTALLER, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Moldova


Dear friends of Moldova,

Three years ago, Moldova was ravaged by money laundering and banking frauds. The authorities have not yet produced a credible investigation. Nor have they duly informed the public about the efforts made, and there is no public oversight of the way Moldova responded to this crisis.

After failed attempts to legalize proceeds from these crimes with the so-called fiscal amnesty, the present authorities have changed the electoral system to their own benefit and against the common good.

Now, to survive and maintain power, an illegitimate and unpopular government applies its remaining tool– fear and intimidation.

We, the undersigned, reflecting an important part of the public opinion, have spoken out repeatedly, condemning these abuses.

In defying the peaceful protests that erupted in 2017, the Moldovan authorities retorted to persecution, intimidation and outright lies – by providing “official”, yet false information -and violated the basic human rights of peaceful citizens, such as the freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

The arrest of Alexei Alexeev is the most recent in this worrying string of events. We saw Police forces, pro-government politicians, and their politically affiliated media engaged in an open campaign to misinform the population about the protests, and denigrate an innocent person. The claim that Alexeev has attempted to run into lines of police with his van is groundless and cameras that filmed the scene from many angles can confirm that. Despite that, Alexeev is still under arrest. His sentence was changed to house arrest last week, yet this does not diminish the injustice made to this person by the authorities, which apply brutal antidemocratic measures.

On the 7th or April 2009, Moldova has learned a painful lesson about where politicized law enforcement can lead. Which is why reform was important. Fabricated cases, like the one mentioned above, cast serious doubt over the quality of the Police reform.

Reforming the Ministry of Interior, was part of the EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Liberalization Dialogue in 2010, as was the National Human Rights Action Plan, the results of which are visibly under threat in 2017.

With great concern we witness a roll-back of the Justice sector reform. After having consumed substantial funds, the Government is cutting back on transparency and access to information; investigation journalists have ever more barriers in doing their honest and necessary work.

Precious progress is being undone in crucial sectors. As a result, authorities do not fight high level corruption – such measures rather help protect it and conserve it.

Tens of millions of Euros have been spent to produce very little visible result, and this puts the effectiveness of the financial support offered to Moldova in these sectors, under question. We would like to express our deep conviction that this is not the best use of taxpayer money from the European Union, the United States of America, or elsewhere.

It is our opinion that the money directed in these fields do not produce positive and long-lasting effects for our population, and in these conditions, we see no reason or necessity in supporting these costs (part of them – loans), which is why we would encourage temporarily stopping financial support in these fields, until clear assessments of the money spent are made, and more rigid, clear and verifiable performance indicators are imposed on existing and future financing.

Help should come in those areas where authorities show commitment to reform, which should be proven with honest action.

  • We encourage to continue and to increase the support to Moldovan entrepreneurs, and business support infrastructures, thus helping the Moldovan businesses (existing, and the ones still to be established) benefit to the fullest from the opportunities offered by DCFTA.
  • We encourage more support to civil society, especially free and transparent mass media, thus helping shed a light on reality. What we have see in the last year is a direct attack on free independent media.

The European Union is in a unique position to request a more credible investigation of the financial crimes that hit the Moldovan and the EU financial systems. These crimes have affected the EU and it should act in the best interests of its citizens and its members. Keeping this investigation in Moldova for three years produced no results.

According to the Article 18 of the Association Agreement between the EU and Moldova, both parties agree that, in the event of money laundering involving both Moldovan and the EU financial systems, an international investigation task force and asset recovery shall be put in place. We believe the European Union has the duty in front of its citizens to step in and investigate these crimes, bringing to justice everyone that made these crimes possible by providing their political or administrative support. Personal sanctions against concrete individuals could be a way to start the process.

The change of the electoral system was a process in which the Moldovan Parliament has defied the national and international recommendations, coming from the Venice Commission, European institutions, Moldovan and European political parties, civil society and media, and their opposing arguments, concerns as well as pure facts. As happened in all neighboring countries, this reform alone stands to negatively affect pluralism and multi-party system, consolidate, not diminish, political corruption. The opinion of the Venice Commission and other independent evaluations offer multiple details and arguments against this decision, but our government ignored all of them.

We are deeply concerned that substantial financial reserves amassed by corrupt politicians might be put into use at the next elections. Among others, dirty money will provide hidden financing to politically affiliated media, politicized administration and law enforcement, online and offline activists, artists, and others. Nontransparent party financing will make it easier for illegal money to win the elections in Moldova, and this is another threat for democracy. Democracy cannot be about whoever has more money, regardless of their provenience.

We believe that Moldova is close to a point of no-return in its path to authoritarianism and it is our concern that both the trust of our people and the trust of our partners has been betrayed and abused to bring us here.

We urge you to act in order to:

  • Temporarily stop the financing of reforms, which produce no visible and sustainable results until commitment to reform is visible, and support those areas where such commitment exists. Financial support in any sector must come against very clear conditionalities and performance indicators.
  • Enact the Article 18 of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement to investigate financial crimes that affected Moldova and the EU financial systems three years ago, and issue personal sanctions against the ones responsible.
  • Maintain the condemnation of the decision to change the electoral system as deeply antidemocratic and damaging to pluralism of opinion and of parties.
  • Call upon the present authorities to put Moldova back on its democratic path, and hold the present authorities accountable for their previous commitments.

We thank you for your continued support.

Signatory organizations:

Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance (AGER)
Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT)
Center for Policies and Reforms (CPR Moldova)
Foreign Policy Association (APE)
Institute for Public Policies (IPP)
Legal Resources Centre from Moldova (CRJM)
Transparency International Moldova
WatchDog.MD Community

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