Monday, January 28, 2008

Moldova's European Integration: How to Avoid Failure

The timeframe allowed for the implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan (EUMAP) is bound to expire soon. This makes Moldovan analysts and think-tanks attempt to reveal the reasons why the implementation of EUMAP has failed. To date, there is an overall consensus regarding the complete failure of the EUMAP. The latest study undertaken by analyst Dumitru Minzarari and IDIS Viitorul is a good read for those still wondering why the gap between European and Moldovan quality of life standards has been widening rather than narrowing and why there is so much talk and so little performance on behalf of public institutions.

The conclusion of the study is that the current government never really intended to implement the measures forseen in EUMAP because by reforming the judiciary sector, strengthening independent mass-media and democratic institutions, it would have eroded all the benefits it currently derives from the status-quo. However, it gained time and political capital by PRETENDING to implement it. The study also factors in Russia's open resistance to Moldova's possibility of joining EU.

The study contains an idea for overcoming the problem. The scenario proposes Moldovan non-governmental organizations establish and maintain an alternative cooperation forum with the Visegrad countries' governments and NGOs (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) to mobilize alternative resources around the Moldovan European integration aspirations and implement the EUMAP. Basically, to create an alternative pseudo-government to do the job of the inefficient Moldovan government with the support of several EU countries. Although I agree with the description of the problem, I find the proposed solution neither justified nor feasible. We may want a positive change in the quality of governance, but the way to pursue change is not by creating an illegitimate replacement for the current government thus creating false expectations misplacing the object and burden of accountability. Since only citizens, represented by competing political parties, can change the government in a democracy, they need to be further educated in exercising tighter control over their government, demanding and recognizing real progress. It may take a longer time, but this is the only way change will translate into progress.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Managing Teleradio-Moldova: Truth or Libel?

Now that the long Moldovan holidays are over, besides such events as abundant snowfall that made the traffic even more difficult, and the car accident caused by Mayor of Chisinau, I hear people talking and writing about failures. Failure to successfully implement laws, policies and plans, failure to reform public institutions, failure of Moldovan citizenry to demand a better political representation and government.

It is too bad we are starting off a brand new year with such a poor progress evaluation. However, it is good to see some people feel compelled and independent enough to deliver the bad news. To continue the previous discussion about the well-being of Moldovan public institutions, let’s take the case of the public TV&Radio company Teleradio-Moldova. Two members of the company’s supervisory board published a report which spells out some facts and figures that suggest an extremely poor management of this important but highly-vulnerable public institution. For example, out of all television companies active in the country (about 7), the public TV Moldova1 with 92% coverage has merely a 4.7% audience. In addition, the report provides a colorful picture of how the company is managed on everyday basis, including its human resources, finances, public relations. Evidently, in this picture, the director of the company does not look very good. So, he decides to sue the authors of the report - and the organization they are affiliated with - for libel.

Will have to see what the court – another public institution – decides in this case. For now, however, I look at this report as a favor to the public in the sense that it provides some hard evidence (although, I must admit, still poorly documented and referenced) about the quality of management of one of its key institutions – the national television and radio. It does provide some answers to those of us wondering why the quality of Moldova1 and Radio Moldova programs reached a level so low it is below any criticism.