Eu/moldova: Re-Elected President Targets European Integration

Article excerpt

Reforms and Euro-goals.

Mr Voronin, the leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, comfortably won re-election, receiving 75 votes in the 101-seat parliament, 14 more than required. He was expected to be inaugurated for his second term on April 7, and would then have to nominate a Prime Minister. Mr Voronin first came to power promising to forge closer ties with Russia, but relations cooled in 2003 after he pulled out of a proposed deal to settle the Transdnistria conflict amid criticisms that it would hand too much influence to Moscow. The 63-year-old President confirmed on his re-election that he is seeking closer ties with the EU. According to news agency Infotag, Mr Voronin told the parliament that Moldova's integration into Europe should be regarded not as a political slogan but as an "irreversible, consistent and natural process".

He explained that the EU-Moldova Action Plan signed in February was only a small, visible part of the process: "The work we must fulfil is much more complicated. All reforms have to be viewed through the light of their correspondence to the Copenhagen standards [the criteria for EU membership] and to the spirit of European values". Mr Voronin talked in this context of reform of the judicial system, the importance of independence of the courts, further de-militarising and de-politicising of law-enforcement bodies and special services, and "the formation of transparent, responsible and efficient mass media".

Moreover, "Moldova should march to the European Union not as a 'poor relative' but as a nation that has managed to defeat poverty and achieve high economic indicators", Mr Voronin continued, referring to an 'economic growth and poverty reduction strategy paper' backed by international financial institutions. President Voronin added that the future Moldovan government would have to considerably reduce its administrative interference in the economic sphere and work out simpler rules for running economic activities based on openness, competitiveness and non-interference. Mr Voronin also spoke in favour of reforming the state apparatus to ensure for example a high, 'anti-corruption' level of salaries for civil servants.

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Mr Voronin said that he would not be running for the presidency again: "This is my second and the last tenure. I have no Central Asiatic intention to look for pretexts to extend my presidential authority or to get a third mandate".

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Transdnistria.

Mr Voronin underlined the importance of Russia pulling its troops and ammunition out of Transdnistria. This would not be "for the sake of giving the vacant Russian barracks to the military from other countries" as "we regard any form of military presence in that region as an anachronism, an absurd[ity] that has nothing to do with Transdnistrian settlement", he said. He expressed confidence that firm backing from the US, EU, Ukraine, Romania, and the potential of the Moldova-Russia relationship would allow the problem to be solved.

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The EU and Moldova signed on February 22 an Action Plan to boost ties under European Neighbourhood Policy. It aims to enhance relations between the EU and Moldova linked to progress on political and economic reforms, without saying anything one way or the other about EU membership.

The plan envisages opening "new partnership perspectives" as follows:

- moving beyond cooperation to a significant degree of integration, including through a stake in the EUs internal market, and the possibility for Moldova to participate progressively in key aspects of EU policies and programmes;

- an upgrade in the scope and intensity of political cooperation, through further development of mechanisms for political dialogue;

- continuing strong EU commitment to support the settlement of the Transdnistria conflict, drawing on the instruments at the EUs disposal, and in close consultation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe;

- the opportunity for convergence of economic legislation, the opening of economies to each other, and the continued reduction of trade barriers which will stimulate investment and growth;

- increased financial support: EU financial assistance for Moldova will be available to support the actions identified in the action plan;

- possibilities of gradual opening of or reinforced participation in certain EU programmes, promoting cultural, educational, environmental, technical and scientific links;

- support including technical assistance and twinning to meet EU norms and standards, and targeted advice and support for legislative approximation through a mechanism such as TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange);

- deepening trade and economic relations;

- establishing a constructive dialogue on visa co-operation between the EU and Moldova, including an exchange of views on possibilities of visa facilitation in compliance with the EU acquis;

- opening as soon as possible a Commission Delegation in Moldova;

- depending on the fulfilment of action plan objectives and the overall development of EU-Moldova relations, consideration will be given to the possibility of a new contractual relationship. …