Friday, May 29, 2009

Voronin should go to jail

You will have noticed over the course of reading my posts that Voronin, the communist deputies and the PCRM as a whole have committed numerous breaches of the constitution of the Republic of Moldova, both during their eight years in power and especially during the post-electoral period.

In respect of most of these breaches, Voronin, as the leader, must take direct responsibility, while the criminal responsibility of the deputies and the PCRM, while very real, is more indirect.

I've had a quick look through the penal code. There are too many applicable offences than can be repeated here. There are also a range of penalties ranging from fines to short prison terms to life imprisonment for the most serious offences.

1. For its role in breaching numerous points of the constitution, the Communist Party and its deputies should be fined and banned from holding public office. Individual deputies and functionaries who have directly committed specific offences should be subject to prison terms.

2. Voronin, himself has committed more grave offences. His failure to hold a second round of presidential elections is best viewed as 'negligence by a public functionary', punishable by fines or up to 5 years' imprisonment. His failure to relinquish one of his posts (president and speaker) is 'usurpation of power' and is punishable by 12 - 15 years' imprisonment. His February agreement to allow the disposition of Russian troops on Moldovan soil is 'treachery' and is punishable by 16 - 25 years of imprisonment. And there are many, many others.

Now the Constitutional Court just needs to start doing its job. Note that a pleasant side effect of the Constitutional Court doing its job would be the overcoming of the current political crisis. Voronin and his gang would be removed from power, and in the anticipated elections only opposition parties would be allowed to participate, ensuring a parliament filled with deputies of higher democratic values than the PCRM.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Anybody home?!

Anybody home at the constitutional court?! Voronin and the PCRM continue to breach the constitution with almost every move they make, and yet nothing seems to disturb chief justice Pulbere from his slumber...

The latest breaches:

1) Art. 31(4) of the constitution says that religious faiths are autonomous and separate from the state. By invoking the orthodox christian celebration of the ascension of Jesus as the reason to postpone the election of the President of the public, the 60 communist deputies have breached this provision of the constitution.

2) Art. 2(3) of Legea Nr.1234-XIV din 22.09.2000 states that the election will take place on a date set by parliament. There is no provision in the law allowing this date be REset once fixed. Note here that not only was the date fixed initially on May 20th, it was also confirmed today when the agenda for the session was approved. In a legal sense, what happened today was that all 101 deputies effectively boycotted the vote, and according to Art 10(2) of Legea Nr.1234-XIV din 22.09.2000, this requires that parliament be dissolved and a date set for anticipated elections.

3) Art 78(3) of the constitution requires a second round of voting in the case that neither candidate achieves 3/5 of the votes of the deputies. On May 20th, Zenaida Grecianai received 60 votes, one short of the required number. The constitution required that the top two candidates (Grecianai and Groppa) go to a second round of voting within 3 days. That never happened, and Parliament proceeded to repeated elections (with new candidates) in breach of the requirement for a second round.

Does the ECHR have jurisdiction in cases where citizens' rights to constitutional order are being breached by both their government and their constitutional court? I sure hope so. Somebody needs to grab this thing by the collar and sort it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Russia attacks Moldova's Statehood

Russia has today revealed one of its key ambitions in Moldova. Ambassador Valeri Kuzmin has requested that Russian be made an official language. This request is completely unacceptable, for the following reasons:

1. Only 5.6% of the population of Moldova is Russian, and they have had twenty good years in which they could have and should have learned Romanian. Note that there are similar percentages of Ukrainians and Gagauz, who actually have a stronger claim to 'indigenous' status, having lived in Moldova for centuries.

2. The officialisation of Russian will lead to the death of the Romanian language on part of its native soil. Romanian is barely hanging on as it is in Moldova, due to the massive cultural bombardment by Russian media outlets and the PCRM's predilection for the language. This would be an act of cultural vandalism with which the EU should interest itself greatly.

3. It's unconstitutional - Moldova's state language is established as Romanian under the country's basic law. It is a gross interference in Moldova's internal affairs for Russia to require a change in Moldova's constitution. In fact, it's exactly the sort of "attack on Moldova's statehood' that Russia has been accusing Romania of orchestrating (without any evidence of course).

4. If Russia wants Moldova to make the language of a small minority official, it should first lead by example and make the languages of its minorities official and full equal with Russian. Duma deputies should be able to speak in Chechen or Tatar, should they so wish...

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Some people to watch out for and avoid:

Vlad Socor. A Romanian with links to the PPCD and PCRM. Issues articles through the 'Jamestown Foundation', an otherwise useful American organisation that unfortunately hasn't yet caught on to the fact that Socor is a mole for the Russians. For example, his latest article subtly denigrates the Moldovan opposition, implying that they are just sore losers, and completely ignoring the massive evidence of vote fraud. Socor tends to be quoted by pro-PCRM news agencies in Moldova in the capacity of 'respected western analyst'. In my view he is not respected, nor is he western in his values and decent unbiased analysis is nowhere to be seen in his work.

The 'Omega' and 'Noutati Moldova' news agencies. Known for their proximity to the PCRM they have recently been excelling themselves in the art of turning inconvenient truth into slanderous propaganda. A good example of this was a report issued to NATO's parliamentary assembly. If you read the full report (http://www.nato-pa.int/Default.asp?SHORTCUT=1784) you will see that it describes the situation in Moldova fairly, and repeats many of the demands made of the Moldovan government by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

The document contained a single unfortunate (and not entirely correct) sentence however: "On the whole, the election confirmed the dominance of the CPMR and the opposition’s inability to present a united front and offer a credible alternative." This statement was then twisted by Omega and Noutati Moldova into news stories which made no mention of the admonishments issued to the Moldovan government by NATO.

My guess is that by 'dominance' the writer was commenting on the fact that the PCRM is the single largest party in terms of voter support - nothing new here, even the opposition would recognise that. In commenting on the opposition's inability to offer a credible alternative the writer was no doubt referring to the pre-election period, when there was a multiplicity of opposition parties pushing all sorts of barrows and completely confusing the electorate.

Since the election however, the smaller parties have fallen by the wayside and the three parties that remain have shown themselves to be strong, united, principled and ready to assume the reigns of government. I believe that will be proved beyond doubt in tomorrow's vote.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Voronin shreds the constitution

I'm not even going to mention the breaches of the constitution committed by the Moldovan communists prior to or during the election. Let's limit ourselves to the breaches since April 5.

First we had the Constitutional Court's early validation of the election result, which under the constitution should not take place until all appeals have been heard.

Then, on May 22nd we had Voronin's failure to formally vacate one of the posts he holds (Speaker and President), as required by the constitution within 30days of the incompatibility arising.

Yesterday Voronin stated that, if the opposition were to force anticipated elections, he would go ahead and appoint a fully empowered government. The constitution does not allow for this.

Finally today we have the incredible decision of the Constitutional Court stripping thousands of Moldovans of their right to hold public office.

It is high time that the international community recognised that constitutional order has broken down in the Republic of Moldova.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ketchup, Mayo, hold the Imperialism

I got my first obscene comment from a Russian speaker yesteday. While this was no great surprise, given my comments on the statements and actions of the Russian leadership, it does give me cause to reiterate an important point.

I am not anti-Russian.

I love Russian music & literature. I admire both the scientific achievements and the deep spirituality of the Russian people. I speak Russian and appreciate the language.

It's just that Putin & I have very different visions about what is good for Russia. Putin scares off investors by undermining the rule of law and mis-using the Russian legal system to get his own way. He ensures an arc of instability around Russia by beating up on the country's smaller neighbours and undermining their democracies. He neglects the poor while enriching his clan.

In my Russia, the government enjoys democratic legitimacy. The assets of foreign companies are protected by the legal system and foreign investment flows freely in. My Russia respects and is at peace with her neighbours and has a lower military budget as a result. Her focus is on reducing corruption, increasing social spending and boosting investment in infrastructure.

So you see, I'm actually pro-Russia...

A shot at redemption

The western response to communist electoral abuses has been fairly pathetic so far. The US and the EU seem to believe that playing down the PCRM's blatant vote-rigging and control over the media can somehow bring 'stability' to the Union's eastern border. Even if it were the truth (which it isn't), this view actually means that those two entities are putting their own interests (stability) ahead of those of the Moldovan people (a legitimate government).

First of all, there will never be stability without legitimacy. In every democracy there is an implicit contract under which the minority cedes to the majority the right to rule. in return the majority upholds the constitutional rights of the minority. Where the majority is failing to honour its side of the contract, the minority will refuse to cede power. Stability will only come therefore when constitutional rights (including the right to a fair and equal vote) are upheld.

Secondly, the US and the EU are not just political entities. They are also ideals - of democracy, liberalism & human rights. Generations of people in countries all around the world look to them for moral leadership, and this moral leadership leverages up their political power, as Barack Obama noted yesterday.

The opposition boycott of the presidential election should make the western powers sit up and take notice. First, it is now clear that Moldova has a strong and united opposition, capable of taking over from the communists. second, the chances now appear good that there will be anticipated elections.

It is in respect of the latter that the west has the opportunity to redeem itself. Legitimate government can only be restored in Moldova on the basis of free and fair elections. Free and fair elections will require two things in particular - a free media and a fair electoral process. The West must make it clear to the communists that it will not accept a new PCRM victory as legitimate unless (a) the state media is immediately freed from political control and (b) trustworthy international election specialists (not the monkeys from the OSCE) work alongside the CEC to clean electoral rolls, extend overseas suffrage and eliminate multiple voting.

In the event that the new election does not meet these standards, the EU & US should declare the communist regime illegitimate and tak action as appropriate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crocodile Tears for Moldova

Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has once again repeated his concern that Romania is actively undermining Moldova's sovereignty. Without providing any evidence whatsoever, he has repeated his earlier claim that Romanian secret services were behind the April 7th violence. He has extrapolated Romanian president Basescu's rejection of a new treaty with Chisinau into an intention to violate Moldova's borders. He has called on the European Union to impose economic sanctions on Romania for its bad behaviour (yes, really!)

Medvedev's sudden burst of concern for Moldova's sovereignty is touching, however before reacting, the EU should consider the following:

1. One country has, for the last 20 years, supported a separatist regime on Moldova's soil.
2. The same country has maintained occupying forces on Moldovan territory despite a treaty commitment to withdraw.
3. The same country, at last year's summit described the Ukraine as 'not really a country'
4. The same country waged a short war on Georgian territory last year with the stated aim of dismembering the country.

That country is not Romania (which has actually behaved well under considerable intimidation). It is, in fact, the Russian Federation. The real threat to Moldova's sovereignty comes not from Bucuresti, but Moscow, and it is against Russia that the EU should consider imposing sanctions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The truth will set us free

President Basescu of Romania is these days abandoning diplomatic obfuscation in favour of plain speaking. His most recent declarations have caused both the Moldovan regime and their Russian backers to get their knickers completely twisted. The reason? He told the truth.

The Russian worldview is based on an intricate mix of propaganda and spin. For example, take the myths surrounding the Great Patriotic War. I am the first to recognise the monumental effort and sacrifice put in by the Soviet Union in defeating Hitler, however the Soviet war myths demean the contribution of other nations and overlook the Soviet Unions own considerable failings in the conduct of the war. An example of the former include North American and Australasian participation in the European theater when they could have easily focussed on the war in the Pacific. An example of the latter would be the Soviet Union's disgraceful late entry into the war, leaving Britain to stand alone against German aggression.

The problem with a propaganda based world-view is that it is very easily damaged by the truth. When I put my observations on the Great Patriotic War to my Russian friends, I get the human equivalent of an 'Unrecoverable Application Error'. It just doesn't compute.

That's what Basescu has just done. He has pointed out that Russia will never leave Transnistria of its own volition. With this one clear statement of truth he has destroyed much of the power that Russia has over Moldova. For 20 years Russia has extracted concession after concession from Moldova in return for vague expressions of intent about resolving the conflict and reintegrating the country. If that's not actually a prospect, then all the concessions made should now be retracted, the negotiation 'industry' dismantled and the Moldovan government re-focussed on the economic & political development of the Nistru's right bank.

Similarly, by referring to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Basescu has brought into the open the modern-day imperialism of the Russian Federation, together with the acquiescence of Russia's friends in Germany and other parts of Western Europe. The underlying subject - recognition of borders - is a non-issue. Romania already recognises the borders of Moldova due to a post-war treaty signed with the Soviet Union. The only reason Voronin wants a treaty is to embarass Romania and bost his ratings in Moscow and among his electorate in Moldova.

As I stated in a previous blog, Romania is Moldova's only true friends. Basescu's leadership in bringing democracy back to Moldova proves this once again.

Gagauzia messes up

Gagauzia is an autonomous region in the south of Moldova centred on the towns of Comrat & Vulcanesti. The origins of the Turkic Gagauz are somewhat unclear, however it appears that they arrived in Moldova around 200 years ago. One story has it that they were invited in by the Russian empire to occupy poorer land that was not being farmed by the native Moldovans.

The 200,000-odd Gagauz are hardworking folk and are close to the land. Unlike their Turkish cousins they are orthodox Christians and generally speak Russian as a first language, with the Gagauz language coming a distant second and the Romanian language hardly being spoken at all. As a result, Gagauz sympathies lie naturally with Russia rather than with the Moldovans with whom they share a country.

In the mid-90s Russia did its darndest to have Gagauzia secede from Moldova, thus creating a second Russian-controlled enclave alongside Transnistria. To their credit, the Gagauz and the national government of the day were able to forge an agreement which saw Gagauzia become an autonomous region within Moldova.

Now the Russians and their Moldovan communist lackeys are at it again. Yesterday, communist deputies in the Gagauz assembly proposed a motion that the state language be referred to exclusively as 'Moldovan' rather than 'Romanian'. The motion, designed to inflame ethnic tensions in southern Moldova, was passed despite a written appeal against it by the Gagauz Baskan (president). The communists prevented the Baskan's letter from being read out in the assembly.

In his letter, the Baskan, Mihai Formuzal, pointed out that Gagauzia's interests are not served by succumbing to the wave of anti-Romanian hysteria unleashed by Voronin & the Russians. Formuzal is a smart guy and would probably be thinking the following:

1. The years of Russian / Communist domination did diddly squat for the Gagauz people and almost killed their language and culture.

2. Gagauzia's economic future is intrinsically tied to Romania and the outside world, not to Russia. The major Romanian city of Galati is just a few kilometers away from Vulcanesti and represents a significant untapped market. The rapidly developing river port at Giurgulesti is, for the first time, allowing the Gagauz to export their produce direct to foreign markets. Investors from western Europe are building million-dollar processing plants for primary produce on Gagauz soil.

If the Gagauz are smart, they will learn the Romanian langauge rather than loath it, and they will live in the European future rather than the Soviet past.

Moldovan democracy's finest hour

A stunning victory for democracy and liberty in Moldova. There's no other way to put it. It wasn't just the fact that the opposition defeated the attempt to install a totalitarian president, it was the way they did it and the obstacles they overcame which stand out.

For weeks, Voronin's communists have been using every conceivable trick in the book to try to convince opposition deputies to change sides. These have included moral pressure, threats of criminal prosecution, the continued detention of political prisoners and a rumoured EUR 5m bribe. The opposition didn't blink however, and not a single one of their deputies put personal interests ahead of the good of the country.

What's more, the Communists seemed genuinely surprised that they didn't obtain the 'golden vote'. I guess they had started believing their own propaganda, which is always a fatal mistake. Voronin was visibly rattled and switched of the microphone on Corina Fusu, thus denying freedom of speech to one of the people's representatives.

The icing on the cake was the way in which the opposition effected their boycott of the vote. In a show of organisation and complete unity, they stood up and left the room row by row as their leaders indicated that they would not participate.

Democracy is not built in a day, but instead is the result of many years of struggle. In the UK for example, democracy evolved over a thousand of years or more as liberties were gradually extended, institutions built and the powers of the king circumscribed. The Magna Carta, Habeus Corpus, the Civil War and the abolition of slavery were major events that marked this progress.

Today in Moldova may turn out to be such an event. Let's hope that history looks back on 20 May 2009 as a day when the country took a great step forward, a day when its people and parliament said 'never again' to rigged elections and gross abuses of human rights.

My warmest congratulations to the opposition deputies. Today, you have earned the trust of the Moldovan people..You have taken the offensive to the communist regime. Don't let up - keep going until the prize of a democratic and representative parliament is achieved and young Moldovans once again have a future in their own country.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

True Friends

Eurovision 2009 has been and gone, with it's usual mix of kitsch, colour and melodramatics. Aside from the music, an aspect of the competition that interests me is the voting patterns, which say as much about how different countries perceive each other as they do about the quality of the music. For example former soviet countries normally furnish each other high numbers of votes, as do the nordic nations and the former yugoslav republics.

Nelly Ciobanu's 'Hora din Moldova' was a competent effort, and would probably have made the top five had it been sung in English. Only Portugal & Romania gave it the maximum 12 points. The song received 7 points from Belgium, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. Russia gave it 1 point.

This result highlights what most Moldovans have known for a long time - Russia's support for Moldova is lukewarm and fickle at best. The country has good friends in the regional powers of Turkey and Ukraine. Most importantly, despite all the garbage deposited at its doorstep by the PCRM, Romania remains the best and most constant friend of the Moldovan people.

A more alarming result for the Moldovan communists was the way Moldova allocated its votes. Romania's Elena Gheorghe received the 12 points, clearly showing the attachment of ordinary Moldovans to that country, despite the PCRM declaring them to be the enemy. This clearly was one election Voronin failed to rig, ;)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Russkie Skazki

When war broke out in Georgia last August, the initial PR advantage went to the Georgians. While the Russian / Ossetian / Abkhaz side denied journalists access to the territory they controlled, the Georgians allowed them to roam freely and gave them access to senior politicians. The whole world saw the war for what it was - a massive, long-planned invasion in response to the flimsiest of pretexts.

As the Russian propaganda machine cranked up, however, a story was carefully constructed around the idea that Saakasvili was a mentally unstable despot who unleashed a horrific attack on civilians in Tskinvali. While grossly misrepresenting what actually happened, there was just enough truth in these assertions to give European capitals an excuse to effectively do nothing in the face of the Russian aggression. If you close your eyes and ears, and ignore 80% of the factual evidence, you can just about believe the Russian version of events.

Fast forward to 2009 and the Russia-supported usurpation of power by the Moldovan communists. This time around Russia was better prepared and had a story ready for publication prior to the events occurring. Any protests following the rigging of the election were to be framed as a Romanian-backed attempt to overthrow the constitutional order. A bunch of suspects would be rounded up and thrown in jail, including Moldova's Khodorkovsky, Gabriel Stati, and some poor orthodox priest with the misfortune to be a Romanian citizen. Any statements made by any Romanian political leaders would be twisted and used against them. The violence would give Voronin the opportunity to strengthen the role of the security services and create a Russian-style 'managed democracy'.

Unfortunately the Russians made critical mistakes in their stage management of the events. The Russian ambassador to the EU complained about the raising of the Romanian flag over parliament two hours before it happened. The 'boy in yellow' entered the building with an EU flag, but picked up a Romanian one in the building somewhere. The infamous shot of the policmen on the roof and the policemen breaking up kerbstones for use by the demonstrators. The identification of PPCD & SIS activists among the provocateurs. Intercepted radio and telephone calls from leading communist functionaries.

This time around, when I shut my eyes and ears, and disregard 80% of the evidence, I still can't believe the Russian version. No doubt they will keep trying to persuade us however, as the Russian EU ambassador's Friday rant shows. According to him, it's still all Romania's fault, apparently.

As for me however, when I want to read Russian fiction, I'll be sticking to Dostoevsky.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breaking the media blockade

According to recently released estimates, 70% of Moldova's media is controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Communist party. This includes the important M1 TV channel and Radio Moldova, the only audiovisual media with nationwide coverage.

The communists are trying to extend their control further. Advertisers, who are the lifeblood of the remaining independent media, are being pressured to withdraw their support from the likes of Timpul, Unimedia & Jurnal de Chisinau. Journalists are being harrassed and labelled as 'traitors' for publishing material critical of the regime. A new law, coming into force at the end of the month, will make it an offence to 'offend the dignity' of another person.

And yet, with Moldovan democracy in peril and fresh elections on the horizon, a free media is vital. The opposition has to get its message across, especially with respect to the rigging of the 5/4 election and the subsequent human rights abuses, and especially to those in the villages whose brains are being constantly washed by communist propaganda.

Here's some ideas about what could be done to prreserve and extend the reach of the free media:

1. Provide baseline expense subsidies to those media organisations whose advertising base is coming under attack. Probably a job for the EU or Reporters without Borders.

2. Extend internet access in rural areas. More providers, more hardware, cheap connections. Maybe the Stati family could have a look at this. Romania and Ukraine could help by providing high bandwith radio transmissions into and out of Moldova.

3. Romania and Ukraine could also help by boosting their TV and Radio transmission assets along Moldova's borders. This would allow the likes of Romania's Antena 3 to reach more viewers inside Moldova. A further enhancement would be for Ukrainian transmitters to broadcast Romanian channels and vice versa.

4. There is an urgent need in Eastern Europe for a quality Russian-language TV channel to rival Russia's channel 1 in content and production values whilst carrying an independent news service free of Russian government interference. Perhaps George Soros could look after this one?

5. A book should be written chronicling the election and the post-election events. The book should contain detailed and well-written explanations of the election fraud. It should include descriptions and photographic evidence of rights abuses in the week of 7/4. It should include the full text of the European Parliament. Print a million of these and use the combined resources of civil society, independent media and opposition parties to get a copy into every Moldovan household. Foreign NGOs could provide funding.

This list is by no means exhaustive and other ideas would be welcome. Please use the comments facility for this purpose.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An offer too good to refuse

During the events of earlier April and subsequently, there has been a lot of talk of reunification with Romania. Some view this as an inevitability sometime in the next 10-20 years, others see it as a possible outcome of a deal cut between Putin & Basescu.

Personally, I think that successful reunification can only take place if both the people and political elite of the Republic of Moldova are given an offer by Romania which is sufficiently attractive.

There are obvious material advantages that would accompany reunification, and these need to be identified:
- access to the EU market
- access to EU structural funds
- EU citizenship
- equalisation of welfare benefits with Romania

BARRIERS TO REUNIFICATION

The thing is, the material benefits are insufficient in themselves. Reunification isn't that popular an idea in Moldova - it's only supported by 10 to 20% of the population. The reasons are mainly cultural. For starters, Moldova has a large slavonic minority which has little affinity with Romania. Second, even the majority ethnic Romanian population feels that Moldova has a distinct identity, culture, mentality and values. While they share the same origins as their brothers across the Prut, 200 years of Russian influence have left their mark.

Reunification is even more unpopular among Chisinau's political class, for a very simple reason. Today, the city is a national capital and financial centre. Reunified with Romania, Chisinau would be downgraded to a county town such as Iasi or Brasov. It would only have jurisdiction over the central part of the existing republic (as Balti, Cahul and Tiraspol would also become county centres), and hundreds of positions would be disestablished as the infrastructure of national government was dismantled. Lots of people would have lots to lose.

Remember also that Moldova's previous experience of reunification left a lot to be desired. When it initially broke away from the Russian empire in 1918, Moldova enjoyed a few brief months of independence. Then it agreed to reintegrate with Romania under a deal which saw it retain significant autonomy. In subsequent years, however, the promised autonomy was gradually whittled away to nothing. At the same time, Romania itself spiralled downwards from democracy to Antonescu's fascism.

REMAKING ROMANIA

The solution to the reunification problem lies not in Moldova, but in Romania. Reunification would present an unparalleled opportunity for that country not just to reintegrate Moldova, but also to deal with its own troubled political structures.

The fact is that Romania is over-governed. It has a 137-member senate and 315-member lower house. It has 42 counties, each with their own bureaucracy. It has an extensive government machinery, replete with counsellors of varying description and usefulness.

What I would propose is a complete remaking of Romania's government structure. Improve the efficiency of government by combining the counties into, say, seven larger entities (let's call them 'states'). For argument's sake these states could be Banat, Transylvania, Maramures, (Western) Moldova, Dobrogea, Tara Romaneasca and Bucuresti.

Each state would have a governor and a 15 member unicameral parliament overseeing its governmental structures. The same 15 deputies would occupy seats in the national parliament (which would have 105 members in total). The senate would be abolished.

The states would assume the powers of the existing counties as well as whatever power could be sensibly devolved from Bucharest. In particular the states would have control over cultural issues. Hungarian could be made a second official language, for example, but only within the borders of Transylvania.

Ministries and government agencies which don't need to be located in Bucharest would be relocated to the state capitals. The Ministry of Labour could be in Cluj, Iasi could get Health and Timisoara Education, for example.

THE REUNIFICATION PROCESS

With Romania organised in such a manner it becomes a lot easier to simply slot in the Republic of Moldova as an eighth state. Chisinau would retain its status as a significant capital city, having its own governmental infrastructure and substantial autonomy. Moldova could retain much of its cultural distinctiveness. The Russian language could safely become a second official language without threatening the renaissance of the Romanian language on its native soil. 'Cistigi' and 'ciine' could continue to be spelt with an 'i', not an 'a', and food (stored in a 'holodelnic') would continue to be 'ghine' rather than 'bine'...

Combined with the material advantages presented in the introduction above, this would be an offer too good for Moldova to refuse. Offered graciously by Romania, and accepted by national referendums in both countries, it could offer the path to a truly shining future.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parliament's First Law

The opposition was in fine form at today's parliamentary session. They should keep up the pressure on the communists by proposing the following law / resolutions for debate, prior to the (attempted) election of a new President of the Republic.




A Law to Implement the May 7th Resolution of the European Parliament.

MEDIA

1. Each political party represented in Parliament shall be allocated 10 minutes every day on public radio and television to present its view of news and current affairs in the republic of Moldova.

2. TRM shall be placed under the journalistic direction of the BBC for the next six months, to ensure fair coverage of events and to improve the quality of journalism at the public broadcaster.

3. The police and security services are instructed to allow the unfettered functioning of all media institutions and their staff. They must not disrupt electronic media, harass journalists or conduct spurious investigations of media organisations.

APRIL 7 PROTESTS

4. A commission of enquiry shall be formed consisting of one representative of each political party represented in Parliament under the chairmanship of the European Union. The commission shall be charged with investigating the causes of the violence that lead to the vandalism of state institutions, as well as the actions of the security services in response to the violence.

5. The interior minister is suspended from his function pending the outcome of the investigation. The interior ministry is to be placed under EU supervision for a period of six months to improve the professionalism of the police and scurity services.

6. The EU is requested to lead specific investigations into all alleged cases of murder, rape and beatings in Police custody, as well as into alleged cases of detention for political reasons.

ROMANIA

7. This parliament issues an unconditional apology to the Republic of Romania for unfounded accusations made against that state by the President of Moldova.

8. Romania is requested to send an ambassador to take up the vacant post in Chisinau

9. This Parliament reinstates the accord reached with the European Union under which all EU citizens (including Romanians) are able to enter the country visa-free.

ELECTORAL REFORM

10. Electoral law is hereby modified to allow postal voting by eligible citizens resident overseas. The Department of Information Development is requested to implement such a system by the end of July, and the European Union is requested to provide assistance in this endeavour.

11. Parties which do not reach the 6% hurdle are entitled to transfer their votes to parties which have entered parliament. Parties must publish their intentions in this regard one month prior to the election date.

12. The Central Election Commission and the Ministry for Information Development are instructed to contract a big-four accounting firm to oversee a thorough audit of electoral roles and ID documents on issue, such review to be completed (and recommendations implemented) by the end of July.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Open Letter to the PCRM

During the pre & post electoral periods your party has covered itself in shame. You have undermined democracy through your manipulation of the media and your rigging of the election. Through the deaths, rapes and beatings of the April 7 protesters, the PCRM has become the face of human rights abuses in Eastern Europe. The older generation of Moldovans fears you. The younger generation hates you with an intensity never before seen in Moldova.

Tomorrow in Parliament you will make at least one important decision - the election of the speaker. You have two choices:

#1 You can continue to govern as an illegitimate, totalitarian regime, using the security services to enforce your will on the Moldovan people. In the very short term this will preserve your power Longer term, it will lead to your destruction, as economic collapse and political repression combine to trigger violent revolution. Your names will go down in history alongside the likes of Milosevich & Karadich.

#2 You can begin the slow process of repairing the damage you have done and rehabilitating yourself as a political force that, in a fully democratic manner, truly represents the left of Moldovan politics.

All you need to do under option 1 is elect Vladimir Voronin as speaker. He will ensure that Moldovan democracy continues its downward spiral as he and his clan continue to loot the country.

Option 2 is more complex. First of all, you need to dump the old man. Find youself a speaker who is moderate, democratic, pro-European and able to build bridges to the opposition and civil society.

Next you need to implicitly recognise the falsification of April's election by acceding to fresh elections in August. Don't try to buy a presidential vote from the Opposition. You also need to ensure that these elections will be fair by allowing independent review of the electoral process and by freeing TRM from your control.

If there is media freedom, you will lose the elections and move into opposition. Don't view this as a crisis but as an opportunity to reinvent yoursleves as a modern social-democratic party under new leadership. After, several years of good behaviour, the people of Moldova may be prepared to trust you once again.

Under the first option, the only support you will receive is from Russia (and that only as long as her reserves hold out). Under the second option, the EU stands ready and willing to assist the country in its transition to a true democracy with a strong economy.

Your choice.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Smart Money

It is becoming painfully obvious that Moldova is broke and is about to enter into a deep economic crisis. The Communist regime has two choices in seeking funds to cover its deficit. It can turn to western institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, or it can turn to Russia.

But wait a minute - Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was today quoted as saying that Russia itself would need loans from the World Bank to cover its spending, and World Bank representatives were quoted as saying that they were preparing a facility.

Strange. Russia has plenty of money available for garrisoning Abkhazia, S Ossetia & Transnistria, notwithstanding that these force dispositions are in breach of the 2008 ceasefire agreement and the 2000 Istanbul Treaty respectively. It has plenty of money for using in bribing Kyrghyzstan to evict the Americans from Manas airbase. Apparently it even has money to keep the Moldovan communists afloat. So with all this largesse washing around, why does Russia now need the support of the World Bank?

The answer is deceptively simple. Russia wants to use its own money to continue its military adventurism and support its aggressive foreign policy stance. It wants to use other people's money to pay pensions, unemployment benefits and other forms of social spending. The fact is that any World Bank loan would indirectly support Russia's illegal occupation of the three enclaves and would be on-loaned to client regimes in the former Soviet Union.

That's unacceptable. Don't get me wrong - there must be money spent on social priorities within Russia to protect the poor of that country. It's just that the first source of that money should be the funds currently earmarked for military operations in Georgia and Moldova. Accordingly, the World Bank should condition any financial support for Russia on complete compliance with it's international treaty obligations. That means withdrawing Russian forces in Georgia to the July 2008 lines of control and removing Russian troops completely from Transnistria.

Until that happens, Russia shouldn't get a cent.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eyes Wide Shut

The European Parliament finally delivered the bacon today. In a lengthy and clear statement, it denounced the violations of human rights committed by the communist regime and set out the democratic standards it expects Moldova to display. It also called on the European Commission and the Moldovan state to set up a number of working groups to oversee the strengthening of Moldova's democratic institutions.

One punch was pulled however - there was no clear statement regarding the rigging of the election, even though the original text developed by the EP's liberal democratic fraction had demanded this. I suspect the Socialist fraction (with which the PCRM is affiliated) required the elimination of this wording.

In this regard (but only in this regard), the EP's resolution follows a sorry stream of statements by European leaders about the election. The first was obviously the OSCE's appraisal of the election as 'meeting a large number of democratic norms'. This was shortly followed by Ms Ferrero-Waldner's 'warm congratulations' to the Moldovan people on the conduct of their election and the repeated calls of Kalman Miszei to a dialogue based on the acceptance of the fraudulent election result by the opposition.

What on earth is going on here? The evidence for fraud is overwhelming, and yet European leaders are ducking and diving all over the place. Why is it so important that a blind eye be turned to this issue, when it would seem that recognition of the fraud is a necessary first step towards national reconciliation?

I look forward to your comments - hopefully some of you can shed light on this puzzle.

A comment that moved me

Here's the heart-felt response of one Moldovan to the European Parliament's resolution:

God is great and has heard the pain and suffering of this people. Moldovans are hard-working and responsible, if they will have paid work; so as to feel like people and not slaves; then they will not leave the country in droves. We are a people with strong traditions linked to our nationhood, traditions and national customs, of respect and care which we hold in deference to our parents and forebears. We wish to be protected by the law in our own country, to live free and without fear.

DUMNEZEU E MARE SI A AUZIT DUREREA SI SUFERINTELE ACESTUI POPOR! MOLDOVENII SINT HARNICI SI GOSPODARI,DACA VOR AVEA O MUNCA PLATITA ;CA SA SE SIMTA OAMENI SI NU ROBI;ATUNCI NU MAI PLEACA MASIV DIN TARA.NOI SINTEM UN POPOR CU TRADITII PUTERNICE CE TIN DE NEAM ,TRADITII SI OBICEIURI NATIONALE,DE CULTURA NATIONALA,DE RESPECTUL SI GRIJA CARE O AVEM FATA DE PARINTI SI STRAMOASI.DORIM SA FIM PROTEJATI DE LEGE IN TARA NOASTRA,SA TRAIM FARA FRICA SI LIBERI.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Complete and Utter Nonsense

Whatever credibility was left in Moldova's battered constitution evaporated during the course of 20 minutes earlier this morning.

The new session of Parliament started off badly, with the chief judge of the constitutional court making laughable claims about the 'correctness' of the elections and supporting this by reference to the discredited initial report of the OSCE monitoring mission.

Things started to get really ridiculous, however, when 74-year-old communist Ioan ("Ivan") Calin was put in the chair to preside over the session. At the start of the Parliamentary session, no speaker has been elected, and thus the honour of presiding (temporarily) goes to the oldest member of the Parliament.

This person only has one job - to supervise the election of the speaker of Parliament, who would then take over the chairmanship of proceedings. Not our Ivan. No, our Ivan was going to ensure that he got his 15 minutes of fame by delivering a written rant against the opposition and unspecified internal and external enemies.

By the way, Parliamentary Speakers (even temporary ones) aren't supposed to deliver political speeches in Parliament as far as I am aware. Their job is to chair debates in an unbiased manner, giving equal scope to all members to express their views. Being a good communist, however, our Ivan was prepared to overlook such democratic niceties.

The cherry on the cake was when our Ivan unilaterally declared the meeting closed. This was wrong in so many ways:
1. The meeting failed to meet it's primary purpose, i.e. the election of a legitimate speaker. This should have been the first order of business.
2. The opposition was denied the right of reply to the accusations that our Ivan had levied against them.
3. What right does a single deputy have to terminate a session? Don't the views of the other 100 deputies come into play? At the very least there should have been a grounded motion to terminate.
4. Parliamentary regulations require that an agenda be circulated before every meeting, and the opposition must have a substantial degree of input into setting the agenda. No agenda was issued for this meeting.

Come on, European Union, call a spade a spade and delegitimise this miserable communist regime. In the three major opposition parties Moldova has serious and capable politicians who are willing to work closely with you to create a country fit and worthy to takes its place at the table in Brussels. It's time to give them the support they need.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Art of Deflecting Attention

Have you noticed how the Moldovan communists and their Russian backers keep changing the subject?

The two central issues relating to events in Chisinau over the last month are (1) the falsification of the election results through multiple voting and roll-stuffing, and (2) the illegal arrests, beatings, rapes and murders in police custody following the protests of April 7th.

Obviously the communists don't want to hear about either of these issues, and are using the following devices to try to crowd them out of the debate:

1. Simply change the subject. Talk about a Romanian conspiracy. Talk about visas. Talk about the mayoral election of 2007. Go about the normal business of government as if nothing has happened.

2. Turn your actions back on your opponents.

The second technique is a favourite KGB trick from soviet times. Prior to the events in Moldova, it was most recently wheeled out during last August's war in Georgia. Here, the Russians were able to persuade many European capitals that the Georgians had started the war in a fit of irresponsibility and were oppressing the Ossetians. In fact it was a long-planned operation by the Russian side in which the Georgians for the most part showed admirable respect for the rights of the Ossetians.

In Moldova it has played out as follows:
A. Voronin displays mental instability through his conspiracy allegations and toleration of human rights abuses. Voronin accuses Chirtoaca of being mentally ill.
B. Russia interferes explicitly in Moldova's election process through its media and through photo ops given to the communists. Russia accuses Romania of interference.
C. Voronin brings down a new iron curtain on the Prut by requiring visas for Romanians. Voronin complains that the EU is bringing down an iron curtain on the Prut.
D. The communists betray the country by allowing Russian forces to remain in Transnistria and by collaborating with Tiraspol's security services. It is the opposition, however, which is accused of a lack of patriotism.
E. The Russians undermine Moldova's statehood by distributing in Moldova 30,000 black and gold St. George ribbons, symbols of Russian nationalism & militarism. The Russians accuse Romania of undermining Moldova's statehood because the Romanian flag was raised over the Moldovan parliament.

The problem with these strategies is that they work. The core issues get lost amnngst a cacophany of discussion about related topics. Untrained observers are unable to discern the guilty party as they see blame being apportioned to both sides.

Let's hope the western powers don't fall for it.