Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moldova's National Development Plan Open for Public Debate

For the last several years, anyone interested in understanding the Moldovan national development priorities and objectives, has been referred to the famous Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (EGPRSP), developed with the support of the World Bank. There is an entire site dedicated to this document. Initially, the Strategy was intended for 2 years (2004-2006) but due to already unsurprisingly poor implementation and unavailability of any other national development planning document, it was extended for 2007. However, starting 2008 Moldova will have a new document, the National Development Plan, which is currently in the making.

On June 26, the draft NDP – mainly the product of line ministries and governmental institutions – was brought out for public debate at a National Forum. It can be found on the same EGPRSP website. It is good to see the Government initiate a broad so-called “consultative process” regarding the national development concept and selected development priorities. While the EGPRSP was a sector-based strategy with a multitude of priorities, the NDP is a priority-driven and goal-oriented document. The five proposed priorities are: 1) consolidation of a democratic, modern, rule-of- law-type of state; 2) solving the Transnistrian conflict and country’s reintegration; 3) enhancing competitiveness of national economy; 4) human capital development; 5) regional development.

In my view, these priorities are adequate for a mid-term (2008-2011) national development document, and manage to capture the areas, which – if left unattended – could hinder the country’s development for another decade or so. The ways in which problems in these priorities areas are proposed to be addressed should be the real focus of public debate before the adoption and then implementation of the NDP. Also, various public and private (both for-profit and non-profit) stakeholders should study the draft NDP, identify their role in, and start preparing for the future implementation process.

...And the debate has already started. Andrei Popov on his blog says that the draft NDP is more of a technical rather than strategic document, its most important shortcoming being the fact that Moldova's development concept lacks any connection to the external environment, perpetuating isolation and self-centeredness. Given Moldova's accute vulnerability to external political and economic ups and downs, dependency on external funds for development, as well as European integration aspirations, this indeed appears as a serious strategic shortfall that needs to be remedied.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chisinau City Has a Non-Communist Mayor

The results of the runoff elections for the mayor of Chisinau City are as follows:
For Dorin Chirtoaca (pictured), the Liberal Party candidate, voted 61,17% of the electorate(130,181), and for the Communist candidate - 38,83 % (82,653 people). It is indeed a stunning result, Chirtoaca winning with over 22%!

Given that my biggest concern was that the participation in the runoff elections would be too low for validation, I am happy to learn that the participation rate was as high as 35% in Chisinau City. Therefore, it is almost certain that Chisinau will have a young, charismatic and reform-orientated mayor.

Congratulations to Dorin and all Chisinau residents!

Monday, June 11, 2007

European Union is on Guard, and Moldova Should Be, Too

The EU Observer published an interesting article on Moldova's role in the EU-Russia tensions. EU special envoy to Moldova, Kalman Mizsei, thinks that there are two scenarios for solving the Transnistrian problem: positive and negative - both with high stakes for EU and Russia. This means that EU keeps a strict eye on what's going on in Moldova in terms of Transnistrian conflict resolution, and will criticize, if not punish, any deviations from the "5+2" format of negotiations.

Today, an important event is taking place in Vienna: “Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe” (CFE), which was convened in short notice by Moscow. This event might have interesting outcomes, including for Moldova, about which Vladimir Socor writes in this article. There are 3 main groups of players. Russia is trying to persuade US and EU to waive the Istanbul convention requirement to withdraw its troops from the conflict zones (in Moldova and Georgia): Through shrill rhetoric and a little German help, Moscow hopes to break the Western policy of linking ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty with Russia’s fulfillment of the Istanbul Commitments, primarily on Moldova.

The NATO allies' proposal is "to accept a small number of Russian troops remaining in Moldova as part of an internationalized peacekeeping operation for a limited period of time. Russia would evacuate or scrap its ammunition stockpiles as well as withdrawing part of its troops. The internationalized operation would be a military one, though potentially reformable into an operation with greater civilian content later on."

And, finally, the official Moldovan delegation, in addition to internationalization, is to advance the idea of “civilianization” of the peacekeeping operation, which implies "turning the Russian military operation into an international mission of civilian and military observers, with some small military backup, under an international mandate."

The event will last until 15th of June, and the actual outcomes would be of great interest.

Later addition: "Moldova is key to this whole dispute between Russia and NATO," says an alliance diplomat. "If we can resolve the Moldova issue, the rest could fall into place." More on this issue here

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Local Elections in Moldova Create Opportunities for Change

The general local elections in Moldova held on Sunday, June 3, brought about the following developments:

1.Overall participation in the elections was low in comparison with previous years, and represented 48%. In Chisinau City participation was even lower (30%)
2.Although still the top-choice of Moldovan electorate, the popularity of the ruling Communist party is declining. (From 40% of mayoral mandates in 2003 to 31% in 2007)
3.The next most popular opposition party is the “Our Moldova” Alliance with 17% of the mayoral mandates.
4.Chisinau City has a very real opportunity of bringing about change by electing a liberal mayor in the runoff elections on June 17. The communist candidate, Veaceslav Iordan, scored 28% while the liberal candidate, Dorin Chirtoaca, came in second with 24% of the total votes.
5.Chisinau witnessed a suprising emergence of a new Liberal Party.
6.Chisinau City council will be multi-partisan, the communists losing the comfortable majority. Out of 51 seats, the communists will have 16 (31%), the liberals – 11 (22%), and Our Moldova Alliance – 7 (14%). (Source)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Internet Governance in Moldova

This weekend, a new project was launched in Moldova Youth Leaders for Community Development through Internet Governance . It was funded by GKP, organized by CMB Training Center in partnership with DIPLO Foundation , APTI, RWCT, Better World JL Institute, AEGEE Beograd.

I participated along with other 14 Moldovan professionals from various areas in a 3-day workshop focused on Internet Governance (IG) issues in the world and their relevance for Moldova. The objective of this project is to create the core for a local IG community that would actively contribute to a meaningful development of Moldovan Internet resources, as well as their integration into the world wide web.

Although the workshop was merely the beginning of a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder analysis of IG challenges in Moldova, my initial conclusion is that the existing regulations – developed, but poorly enforced by the Ministry for Informational Development – are not targeting any particular needs or challenges, be it those of users, businesses, or those related to infrastructure and content. Rules and procedures seem to be developed in vacuum, and do not aim to curb specific negative externalities caused by a booming market or, on contrary, to encourage development of particular market niches or specific e-products and e-goods.