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|Democracy in Moldova; a great concern for the EU|
|Thursday, 23 July 2009|
The young Moldovan democracy has been going through a very difficult period since the events following the April 5 elections. This is obviously a great concern for the European Union. Since the violent protests on 7 April, Moldovan society
has become deeply polarised. The human rights of many people have been violated and the freedom and quality of the media have deteriorated. In spite of the EU's intensive efforts to facilitate dialogue between the parties and to call for mutual respect and reconciliation, Moldova is now preparing for repeat elections in an atmosphere of fierce mutual accusations. The EU has helped to mobilise a broad international presence and support in order to ensure that the elections on 29 July are conducted democratically and to remedy the concerns that were raised in the context of the April elections. The EU has also expressed a strong commitment to deepening its engagement with Moldova, so as to help the country restore stability, continue democratic reforms, work for national reconciliation and create prosperity for its people. We have considerably increased our engagement with the country in the last five years and we will continue this dynamic approach in the future.
The concern over the political crisis is exacerbated by an increasingly critical economic situation. The political crisis is delaying anti-crisis measures. Here too, increased assistance from the EU, as well as from international institutions where the EU has considerable weight, will be essential in order to help Moldova overcome the difficulties. With international support, Moldova needs to create a comprehensive mid-term anti-crisis programme that can be boldly supported by the international community.
We trust that the young state of Moldova will overcome these difficulties after democratically conducted elections and that we can also open a new chapter in our relations. We are fully aware of our responsibility, since the overwhelming majority of people in Moldova – our direct neighbour – see their future as being closely linked to the European Union.
What are the perspectives of a settlement to the Transnistrian conflict?
Transnistria is also going through a very deep crisis, both economic and political. Its already very fragile economy has been contracting to an almost unprecedented degree. According to official data, production decreased from 500 million to 238 million US dollars in the first half of 2009 relative to the same period last year. However, it remains true that the Transnistrian conflict is relatively easy to resolve compared with many other similar conflicts. There are no ethnic dividing lines, no serious threat of military conflict. Once Moldova has a new government in place - we expect this to happen in early autumn - the settlement negotiations will hopefully be resumed. Resolving the Transnistrian conflict would have a very positive impact on European security at a broader level; here we agree with Russia, which is of course a key player in the settlement process.
Has the EU Border Assistance Mission for Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) improved the border control and cooperation between these two countries?
EUBAM is a great success story. It has helped to reform border control and customs services in both countries towards European standards. This is not just about borders - it contributes to strengthening the rule of law, fighting against corruption, increasing transparency in state structures. At the same time, the conditions for resolving the Transnistrian conflict have improved. I am very grateful to my colleagues at EUBAM, with whom I have excellent cooperation. What proves the usefulness of the Mission is that both Moldova and Ukraine have requested the extension of EUBAM beyond its current mandate, which ends in November 2009.