Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Political Crisis in Romania: For or Against Democracy?

One Romanian blogger was wondering why Moldovan bloggers did not react in any way to the political crisis in the neighboring Romania.

For those interested, I recommend reading blogger Kosmopolit's recent posting which contains an interesting collection of opinions on this issue.

I personally think what is going on in Romania is a shame ... A very bad exampple of democratic practices. A very popular (backup up by over 50% of the population), visionary, reform-oriented, democratic president - Traian Basescu - is being suspended by an insecure, devided Parliament, manipulated by compromised leaders and narrow party interests. I wish the Romanian political elite would come to their senses, and think about the national interests for a change.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Moldova in The Economist

The Economist published an article about an alleged deal between the Moldovan President and Moscow regarding Transnistria. It has to do with disolving the Parliament and organizing anticipated Parliamentary elections to include representatives and voters from Transnistria.

This initiative is another "suprise-suprise!" action which is not being open to public debate. Until recently, available information seems to come from leaking unofficial sources. Politicians , experts and bloggers have already experessed their opionions on something that the wider public has not been properly informed about.

Later addition: Here is a recent
EUobserver article
on EU's reaction to this issue.

And here is how Moldovan media interpretes the above EUobserver article.

One thing is obvious: a secret plan, the so-called "Zubakov plan" that becomes public in an unofficial way breeds a great deal of speculation and manipulation. As journalist Dumitru Minzarari puts it, "the political parties and intrest groups are currently analyzing their own benefits and losses that might result from the potential consequences of this plan, trying to identify potential political alliances" (my own translation) at the expense of the country's sovereignity and public interest.

LATEST ADDITION: At a meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Kramer, the Moldovan President claims there is no any Russian 'secret plan'. Likewise, Russia denies existance of such a plan as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Regional Development in Perspective: Romania and Moldova

Previously on this blog I discussed the regional development policy in Japan. Last week I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about regional development in Romania in a study tour to the North-Eastern Development Region. Regional development in Romania was initiated in 1998 with passing of a related law, establishing 8 development regions. The process was driven by the availability of pre-accession European funds for large-scale development projects with regional impact. After passing of the law, each regional development council (decision-making body) created a regional development agency (executive body) to design and implement regional development for their respective regions.

I visited the North-Eastern Regional Development Agency, and was positively impressed by a couple of things: the organizational set-up and institutional capacity (excellent human resources management, result-oriented organizational culture, and partner-focused operations), the number of projects implemented (about 600), and the amount of funding invested in the region (over 130 million Euro). The most important indicator that is reported by regional development agencies is the absorption (of funds) rate, which for this region is as high as 85%. The key factors of success in case of the North-Eastern Development Region are: availability of funds, decentralization in planning and implementation, and institutional capacities.

How is this eight-year-Romanian experience in regional development relevant to Moldova where the law on regional development came into force just recently (16th of February 2007)? Although it is indeed too early to talk about the results of regional development in Moldova, one cannot ignore the current unknown variables that make any forecast of the impact of this policy an extremely difficult task. Although the Romanian and Moldovan laws are somewhat similar in their provisions, there are several underlying issues that might make regional development policy in Moldova a totally different story: 1) because Moldova is not an EU accession candidate country, it cannot benefit from the pre-accession funds available via PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD instruments which supported the regional development in Romania, 2) lack of access to these ‘traditional’ funds increases the need of the Moldovan central government to negotiate an individual development funding menu with the European Commission, which determines a high level of centralization and unpredictability in spending future regional development funds, 3) such a high degree of centralization and unpredictability will disallow proper institutional capacity building and development at the regional level, which in turn might result in inefficient project implementation and overall failure of regional development policy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Transnistrian Conflict Revisited

An international conference entitled "Settling the Transnistrian conflict in the context of Moldova's europeanisation" took place in Chisinau on 26-27 March. The Conference was organised by the Foreign Policy Association of Moldova in cooperation with the Peace Building Framework Project.

Among the key speakers at this conference was Vladimir Socor, a well-known political analyst of the Jamestown Foundation - a think-tank based in Washington DC. Here you can find his speech, which is a good read for anyone interested in the Transnistrian conflict. The main idea is that almost all policies or models previously proposed for the resolution of this non-ethnic, non-economic, non-religious conflict have, in one way or another, failed, and the conflict is currently, more or less, in the same "frozen" condition as it was a decade ago. Except one single positive circumstance - Moldova becoming the immediate EU's Eastern neighbor the consequence of which is "the radiation of the EU soft power on Moldova." In Socor's view, the desire to become part of EU should be a strong motivation for the Transnistrian population to opt for a democratic government, which will ultimately lead to reconciliation with the rest of the country.

I like this idea, although its success relies heavily on Moldova's central government's ability to effectively steer the country onto the path of EU integration. Yet, who said EU integration was easy?!