On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the declaration of Moldova’s Independence, IPN News Agency decided to depict the portrait of the current Republic of Moldova. For the purpose, we challenged a number of people, including state officials, politicians, businessmen, civil rights activists and persons without posts and titles, but who have what to say. The generic picture is entitled “Thoughts about and for Moldova”.
Prime Minister Pavel Filip: From a former Soviet republic to a free country – Moldova progressed considerably and we cannot hide it, despite the disappointments regarding the economic situation, a field in which we have a lot to catch up in order to live like in the West.
– Mr. Prime Minister, how would you assess Moldova’s situation after two and a half decades of Independence. What are the biggest accomplishments and failures of this period?
– In order to assess the evolution of our country over the last 25 years, we need to see what our ideals were when we proclaimed our Independence. What we most wanted was freedom and to have a decent life in a truly democratic country. Despite many years of indecision and stagnation, I think Moldova made some important steps. We started having closer ties with the EU, we obtained the liberalization of the visa regime, which helped the emancipation and mobility of our people, especially the young ones. Society has grown up, especially through numerous elections, mass media is now freer and many of our institutions have engaged in process of modernization and connection to Western practices of transparency and integrity, thanks to the latest reforms started by my Cabinet. From a former USSR republic to a free country, Moldova has progressed considerably and we cannot hide it, despite the disappointments regarding the economic situation, a field in which we have a lot to catch up in order to live like in the West.
The economic situation and the social problems go under the ‘failures’ column. Certainly, we could have done more in these 25 years, if our country had a development plan and continuity in its application. That’s why European integration is so important, because it can bring us prosperity and a higher quality of life for everyone, but we need to strengthen and deepen this process and prevent any interruption. This is why I called upon the whole society to show solidarity around the goal of European integration. I hope many people will answer this call. If we do it, I can assure the near future will be brighter. If we are serious, we can do more for Moldova in the next 10 years than we did in the previous 25.
– In recent years, many big foreign investors announced plans to invest in Moldova and even met with government officials, but these plans never materialized. Why?
– Any investor wants safety for his investments. Nobody will invest in a place rocked by scandals, instability, weak institutions and excessive bureaucracy. That’s why in my 6 months at the head of the government, I took measures to improve the business environment and attract investments. We started by ensuring political stability, then the government and the parliamentary majority started working for the good of the country. The political sabotage stopped. We went on to introduce a ban for inspections of businesses by state institutions. We also decreased the number of papers required to run a business, offered some some tax facilities to IT companies and made the Prime Minister’s Economic Council functional, which is an open platform for dialogue between companies and the state. These actions made our country interesting for investors. They saw Moldova as a country that knows what it wants, that set clear goals for itself and started working to achieve them. This is why Moldova has recently become attractive for investors. One of the latest examples is German company Coroplast, which will invest 10 million euros and will create 1500 jobs here. In autumn, we will launch a privatization program for our state companies, in order to transform our international partners’ trust, as confirmed by the IMF agreement, into concrete investments.
– How did Moldova use its chance to get closer to the EU, which is an official government priority?
– I have come into office in a very difficult moment, but thanks to the joint efforts of the Cabinet and the Parliament, we managed to do in these 6 months more than other governments in 4 years. We agreed a roadmap with our foreign partners and we completed it in time, on July 31, which lead to the unblocking of external funding. I will mention here the Romanian government’s decision to unblock the 150 million euros credit and we will receive the first installment by the end of August. The new IMF agreement, negotiated by my government, will unfreeze more European funding and will allow us to access international markets and implement the Association Agreement with more determination. We are thus in a very good moment, of trust and support, with our European partners and this will benefit our country because it means more money and expertise for development. Moldova is no longer a problem, but a partner that keeps its promises and shows it deserves EU and US support. We are determined to continue with seriousness on our path towards the EU. We want to be judged only according to our deeds in the relationship with our foreign partners and people. I assure you that we will show maximum responsibility. After the last 6 months’ sprint, we won’t drop speed. I want an even more active government in the implementation of reforms, because I want us to have a strong and positive impact on the daily life of each and every Moldovan.
–You have talked about the relationship with the West. What about Russia?
– I hope our relationship will progress on the path of economic cooperation and normal political dialogue between our two countries. I have already discussed this with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev during a meeting in Bishkek. We need to remove the barriers that still hinder out trade relations. I think time has come for us to build these relations on principles of fairness and pragmatism, to the benefit of both countries. Of course, our pro-European choice must be understood and respected by out partners in Moscow.
– We can assess the country’s level of independence by looking at how independent are state institutions such as the Prosecutor’s Office, CNA, the judiciary, etc. Polls show that trust in these institutions is low. How much time do you think it will take for people to feel that things are improving?
– It wouldn’t be proper for me to set such deadlines. What I can tell you is that the reforms we started in the field of justice, most of them with the support of European institutions and experts, will bring about that transformation our whole society has been waiting for. The first results are already visible. The fact that corrupt judges and prosecutors are being brought to justice shows that the judiciary is being cleansed. This will make the justice system more independent and will regain the people’s trust in it. As Prime Minister, I can assure you Moldova is on a good path and we will not deviate from it. You can be sure of that. Equality before the law and the fight against corruption have become, thanks to adopted reforms, cornerstones of our government.
– I also what to hear your thoughts on the upcoming presidential elections, on October 30. What are you expectations? How should our next President be?
– The next President must be a supporter of the European development path. As I have already said, we need coherence in order to develop. This means all the forces in the country must move in the same direction and this direction must be towards the EU. I have no doubts about it. Despite its current troubles, the EU remains a pole of attraction for countries like Moldova because it meas freedom, safety, prosperity and the rule of law, things we want to have here as well. I want a President that will work together with the Parliament and the Cabinet in order to accelerate our European integration, not a President who will change our direction again or who will create chaos by sabotaging the government, by calling people in the streets and asking for early parliamentary elections. In 7 months, we have showed what we can achieve with work and seriousness. It would be a pity to stop this and return to the chaos we had in January. Moldova needs an active, serious, pro-European President, who will unite the reformist forces in our society around constructive goals instead of destructive ones.
– What do you wish Moldova on the eve of the 25th anniversary of its Independence?
– I wish our people to have faith in the future of our country and to actively participate in the processes that will strengthen our state and society. Together we can be strong and proud in Europe!
Pavel Filip was general manager of the Bucuria sweets factory between 2001 and 2008. He then moved on as general manager of Tutun-CTC tobacco company between 2008 and 2011. In 2011, he became Minister of IT and Communications and rose to Prime Minister in January 2016. He is deputy chairman of the Democratic Party and heads PDM’s Chisinau branch.
Mariana Galben, IPN
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