Although it signed the Association Agreement with the EU in 2013 in Vilnius, the Republic of Moldova faces enormous challenges on its path to the European Union. The volatility of its party system has weakened the position of the Liberals and has halted any democratic consolidation. The so-called “Pro-European” government parties are widely associated with corruption scandals, such as with Social Bank, the UniCredit Bank and the privatisation of the airport by a Russian consortium. Therefore, the reputation of politics in general and of politicians, in particular, has suffered a lot.
Corruption, shortcomings in the legal system, inefficient public administration, increasing poverty, shortages on the labour market and restricted media freedom continue to be among the main challenges for the Republic of Moldova. Also, the turnover of the government in 2009, when Pro-European parties replaced the communist party, has not yet brought real change.
Stagnation and the dissatisfaction of large parts of society have resulted in increasing support for the radical left parties. The young and uneducated parts of the society are especially attracted to these radical parties, which offer a populist, simple answers.
The incidents in Crimea has stirred up similar unresolved problems in the separatist region of Moldova, Transnistria, which split off in 1990 and nowadays remains an area of tensions and dormant conflicts.
Transnistria has 500,000 inhabitants, divided about one-third each among Moldavians, Russians and Ukrainians, and governed by its own government. In addition, the Transnistrian government has already introduced its own currency and ID-cards. The separatist’s government has not been recognised by any other state and especially in economic and fiscal matters, the Russian impact is undeniable.
Currently, the 14th Russian Army is stationed in Transnistria. Russian and Transnistrian authorities claim that the 14th Army is only there to secure the peace. This Army’s professed peaceful intentions seem to be in contradiction to the state’s high rate of illegal weapon smuggling. Furthermore, the construction of a new checkpoint along the border with the Republic of Moldova has fuelled many debates and renders the current “5 + 2” negotiations very difficult.
Tensions have even arisen in the Autonomous Republic of Gagauzia; 90% of its 130,000 people are ethnic Turks.
FNF in Moldova
The Republic of Moldova became part of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Southeast Europe project work in the late 1990s. Through capacity building of the youth and women´s organizations of the political parties, we strengthen them and promote them in the FNF’s international networks. Furthermore, strengthening entrepreneurship, mainly fostering the economic independence of women, is another strategic goal of FNF.
The independence of media remains very problematic for Moldova. Issues such as combating corruption and transparency are also priorities of the Foundation´s work.
The main partner of the FNF is the Liberal Party of Moldova (“PL”). This was proved also in the recent parliamentary elections in the late 2014, when the PL positioned itself as the most pro-European party in Moldova. PL is, as of now, the only party that promotes not only EU integration, but also NATO-accession. This political position is also enshrined in its party statutes. With 13 deputies in the 101 seat unicameral parliament, our partner relies heavily on anti-corruption discourse. Therefore, they feel comfortable and effective also in opposition. Furthermore, the PL stands for municipal decentralization in a quite centralized state.
Joint projects of FNF with NGOs, with free-thinking universities, and with business associations should contribute to the strengthening of civil society.