Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova

Speech made to the Assembly

Monday, 26 June 2017

It is a great honour for me to speak before the prestigious Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I make this speech at a time that is full of challenges, both for my country and for the European continent as a whole. A number of norms and rules that were applied in the past are no longer applicable today and a new world order is being shaped. In addition, there are new, very sophisticated instruments that governments and citizens have to deal with. The nature of this period – a period full of challenges – has been very well captured in the annual reports of the Secretary General and the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe, with a special focus on the rise of populism.

That annual report is an in-depth assessment of the democratic deficiencies of Europe, which require immediate response. It is certain that that response does not depend on the reaction just of one party but requires an integrated approach. If there is one lesson that we have learned over the years, it is that treaties, including more than 200 treaties of the Council of Europe, and national laws are the catalysts for transformation and the continuation of the European construction. In this context, a special role is played by parliamentary diplomacy and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

In the case of my country, the profound impact of democratic transformations is confirmed by our adherence to the values and principles of the Council of Europe. We are connected by a shared history – 22 years of co-operation and 25 years of independence for my country. Those 22 years of co-operation have seen many radical transformations, including the reform and adjustment of the normative framework, the constitutional framework, changes in institutions and changes in mentality. Moreover, the Council of Europe contributes to the realisation of the big dream of my country, which is integration with Europe.

“The Republic of Moldova and the Council of Europe are connected by a shared history of 22 years of co-operation and 25 years of independence – years which have seen radical transformations”

After accession to the Council of Europe, our country took on a number of commitments, which we are constantly delivering on. Since our government took office in January 2016, we have gone through a very difficult period with many challenges, and this period required a lot of courage, dedication and hard work. We have mobilised our resources to achieve specific results. It was not easy, but we managed to relaunch the reform of the country with a strategic aim, which was formulated in the government programme 2016-18. Also, we have set about implementing the provisions of the association agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union.

At the same time, the presidential elections of 2016 have created a new political context. I have communicated to our President that, if I were to choose between co-operation and co-existence, I would prefer co-operation. It is clear that on many issues, particularly on many foreign policy issues, we will have different opinions and we will be in different camps, but we have to work together on the other projects.

In our activity, we focus on strengthening the functional capacities of the institutions of the State, in order to regain public trust in national institutions by making the government more transparent and opening up a constructive dialogue between the government and society. In this context, we have taken into consideration the recommendations of PACE and of the monitoring committees of the Council of Europe. For instance, the PACE recommendations have been enshrined in the action plan of the parliament regarding the honouring by the Republic of Moldova of its commitments to the Council of Europe.

There has also been support for the implementation of the justice sector reform strategy for 2011-16. This strategy has been extended by one more year and it aims to ensure sustainable development in the entirety of the judiciary. Together with the parliament, we managed to promote the law on reorganising the judiciary. We have introduced severe penalties for defrauding European funds, we have created a national integrity authority and we have established two specialised prosecutorial services. One prosecutorial office deals with the fight against corruption and the other deals with the fight against organised crime.

The new legislation and the new measures allowed the prosecution office to become more efficient. I will give an example by citing some statistics for the past two years. Of the 1,100 prosecutors and judges that we have in the country, 36 have been prosecuted and convicted for acts of corruption, thanks to the know-how and expertise of the Council of Europe. From 1 August 2016, we have enacted the new law on reforming the prosecution service.

We have to speak about the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but we also need to look at the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Considering the relevant statistics and the case law of the ECHR, the government has undertaken, with the support of the World Bank, to build a new penitentiary institution, because respect for human rights is a priority for us and we would like to address the deficiencies that exist as soon as possible.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Group of States against Corruption, we have adopted and are currently implementing a law on the financing of political parties and election campaigns. In the context of the current round of assessments, which provides for the prevention of corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors, a code of ethics for MPs is being developed. Shortly, a joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Union will be launched, which aims to prevent money laundering and assist the fight against corruption.

Following the recommendations of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Republic of Moldova has put in place an efficient mechanism for policy co-ordination, which provides for good practice at both national and international level. The mechanism operates through the national committee for combating trafficking in human beings, under the leadership of the ministry of foreign affairs and with the support of the permanent secretariat. We benefit from the support of the whole anti-trafficking community, which includes national and international experts, the diplomatic community and civil society.

Having considered the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, we have adopted a strategy for consolidating inter-ethnic relations, covering 2017 to 2027. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities’ recommendations on decentralisation are set out in the road map that was signed in July 2016. With the support of the Council of Europe, we have developed a new law on local public finance that is being implemented nationally. Because there has been a delay, the implementation period for the decentralisation strategy has been extended to 2018.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Europe and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, we have set up a working group to deal with the special status and autonomy of the Gagauz. The group brings together members of the Moldovan Parliament and the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, and it has made more than 21 recommendations to the public authorities. The recommendations concern the changes to the legislation on the country’s administrative and territorial organisation, and they also deal with the separation of powers and competencies. The group has prepared four Bills. Around a year ago, we organised a special government session in Gagauzia, focusing on the social and economic development of the region in the context of its autonomy.

At the national level, in December 2016 we approved the government decision and action plan on the social and economic development of Gagauzia between 2016 and 2019. Among the actions already taken are the development and implementation of a programme for the simultaneous learning of the Romanian and Gagauz languages in 10 kindergartens, and the initiation and development of the technical infrastructure in the industrial park in Comrat. Several Bills on the special ethno-cultural status of Taraclia have been prepared. We consulted the Venice Commission, which gave its opinion in December 2016 and recommended the consideration of Taraclia’s concerns.

For the period 2016-18, the government have proceeded with their efforts to increase the efficiency of public administration so as to provide the highest-quality services to our citizens. That commitment is reflected in our public administration reform strategy for 2016-20. We have also embarked on a broad process of government restructuring, aiming to streamline the number of ministries and agencies. It will be the most profound and ambitious reform of central public administration ever initiated in the Republic of Moldova, but it will also be the most complicated reform and require huge capacity. We have implemented the reform process not only to increase the efficiency and functionality of public administration, but to deliver better public services. We are intent on launching a comprehensive programme of local public administration reform. We have taken action to reduce the amount of red tape and the number of permits and authorisations – since the start of 2016, we have reduced the number of permits from 412 to 115.

We have also taken action to improve the legal framework to diversify financial instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises, and we have introduced a flat 7% tax for IT park residents. We are making efforts to implement our national strategy for the development of the information society, Digital Moldova 2020. We have support from the Council of Europe to help Internet companies. We believe that the Internet, alongside co-operation with all actors, including in the private sector, will provide new opportunities for organisations and member States. The IT sector in the Republic of Moldova is recording rapid growth, and the country is among the top 10 for fast Internet speeds. Unfortunately, the Republic of Moldova is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to cyber-attacks, particularly on the electoral and economic systems. The provisions of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse are extremely relevant, so we would like to develop a mechanism for the prevention of online abuse. We are interested in the Council of Europe’s good practice in the field.

We are happy to say that the reforms we have launched are reflected in the Council of Europe’s action plan for the Republic of Moldova 2017-20, which was officially launched in Chisinau on 30 May 2017. We thank you, Mr Secretary General, for your continued support and for your presence in Chisinau. The previous action plan for 2013-16 brought about several tangible results at national level. For example, we adopted a package of laws on the judiciary, the status of judges and their selection and evaluation, and we strengthened lawyers’ capacities and developed the monitoring capacity of the broadcasting co-ordinating council. We have received Council of Europe support on electoral matters, as well as to reform the ombudsman institution and the anti-discrimination council. We worked with the Council of Europe on a confidence-building project for people on the two sides of the Dniester river. I am sure that, together with the Council of Europe, we will achieve good results on such fundamental issues.

It is essential for the Republic of Moldova to have the joint mechanism known as the programmatic co-operation framework. After two years of implementation, the framework has proven its usefulness and efficiency in the implementation of regional and bilateral projects. It is a true model of co-ordination. When the Council of Europe and the European Union co-ordinate, it avoids duplication.

The European Convention on Human Rights plays a special role. The maturity of our Convention system should be supported by shared responsibilities and the principle of subsidiarity. The Republic of Moldova will continue to support the reform process and the four interlocking Interlaken, Izmir, Brighton and Brussels Declarations, including any action needed to strengthen democratic security. In that context, we will continue to support the European Court of Human Rights secondment programme for lawyers. In 2017, our country will mark the 20th anniversary of our accession to the Convention.

The role of the Convention and the European Court of Human Rights has never been more complex or more difficult. The future depends not only on the activity and visibility of the Council of Europe but on the responsibility of each member State to guarantee the protection of human rights at national level. Here we are speaking not just about the adoption of laws that will comply with European and international standards, but about seriously implementing and enforcing those laws. In that context, I remind the Assembly about the ECHR judgement Catan and others v. Moldova and the Russian Federation concerning schools in Transnistria. The rights of children should be excluded from a political context, and children should not become collateral victims of the process of settlement. A pragmatic approach, and channelling our efforts towards the educational dimension of the problem, will help us to achieve good results. The focus should be on the expertise of the Council of Europe, on the dialogue between parties, and on small-steps policies.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that, over the past two decades, our continent has faced a number of turbulences and challenges, as it continues to do. The system of international law is continuously being challenged, and significantly so. Europe has experienced profound geopolitical changes. Regrettably, those changes have been accompanied by conflicts that remain unresolved and act as factors of regional instability. The contribution of the Council of Europe, through its political attention, its mechanisms of monitoring and expertise, and its confidence-building measures, is more than necessary in managing those conflicts. There is no perfect or universal model for the settlement and resolution of conflicts, but we are firmly convinced that conflicts in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova, and the profound crisis in the eastern part of Ukraine, should be settled with respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of those countries. I should also highlight the need to learn lessons and take responsibility for future actions.

The security and prosperity of the Republic of Moldova are further undermined by the unresolved Transnistrian conflict, which impedes economic development and divides our society. The conflict stops development and places the Republic of Moldova unfairly in a grey area of history. The key parameters for settling the conflict are well known – all the international actors know what they are. They are respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the recognition of the international boundaries of the Republic of Moldova and giving the Transnistrian region a special status as part of the integrated State. Recently, a joint position of the Moldovan authorities was presented on the prospects for the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict between the two sides of the Dniester river.

The only way to settle the conflict is dialogue. We are convinced that it is possible to make progress if the needs of the people are placed at the top of the agenda, higher than ideology, and if all the partners have a shared agenda. There are no realistic impediments to solving the Transnistrian conflict, but it will not be easy or fast. We need to identify functional mechanisms in all areas, so that the Transnistrian region has a comfortable level of self-administration. Our State will then be fully functional, integrated and efficient. The solution will have to be supported by the people, and we will need a period of transition. We very much hope that, ultimately, we will build a reintegrated State that works for the welfare of all its citizens. I express my belief that the confidence-building measures project creates a favourable environment for identifying specific solutions to address concrete problems.

We highly appreciate the support of the Council of Europe and other international partners, and the existing negotiation platforms should be used to achieve tangible results and real progress. The Council of Europe has become a catalyst for democratic changes in the Republic of Moldova. I am speaking not just about standards, but about implementation. We are fully aware that our European prospects are directly proportionate to how well we deliver on our commitments. We understand how important it is that the Republic of Moldova delivers on its commitments before the Council of Europe – that will have a great impact on our European prospects and a key impact in ending the monitoring procedure by PACE. It is a priority in the government programme and our action plan from 2016 to 2018 to put an end to the monitoring process. I believe we are ready to end it, and that we have the capacity and ambition to achieve that.

We count further on the support of PACE in the implementation of reforms that will be needed in the post-monitoring dialogue. I assure you that the time has come for the Republic of Moldova to move to the post-monitoring stage. The Republic of Moldova has the potential to achieve that. Our citizens should be assured that they have a place in the European space of democratic values. We are expecting the next visit of the PACE co-rapporteurs for the Republic of Moldova. I am convinced that they will see first hand the progress achieved by our country in delivering on our commitments. That idea has been confirmed in PACE Resolution 1955 of October 2013.

The Republic of Moldova is a young democracy that is going through transformations and a process of consolidation. Our transformations are largely due to the expertise and support of the Council of Europe. Those results represent a clear mandate for us to continue with a process of integration and adaptation to European values, which are the bedrock for ensuring sustainable development and modernisation of the country. We will continue to promote a clear vision for Moldovan citizens in respect of our European prospects. We adhere to European values. It is important to continue those activities for the benefit of our citizens and our society, and to ensure the irreversibility of European standards. As I have said many times, the Republic of Moldova does not have a plan B. It has only one political ideal: European integration. We are convinced that the realisation of that ideal will bring better living standards for every Moldovan citizen.

As I said, we are experiencing global transformations, crises and challenges. Solutions can be found as long as there is firm commitment and responsibility. The best option is to act together in an environment in which we share the same values. History has proved to us that Europe is capable of overcoming its difficulties when it is based on co-operation, human rights and the rule of law. Despite the uncertainties and fears, the European path and project continues to inspire and mobilise. That is our country’s project. The capacity of Europe to adapt to changes without giving up principles offers a guarantee of a better future in an ever-changing world. My country, the Republic of Moldova, and its citizens, need a strong European family.


Thank you very much, Mr Filip, for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more. Colleagues should be asking questions and not making speeches. The first question is from Mr Vareikis.

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania), Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party

Thank you, Prime Minister, for highlighting the role of your country’s monitoring procedure. On behalf of the monitors, I have a question concerning the possible changes to your electoral code. Can you list the democratic benefits that the new election law will give the people of your country?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

Sure. Thank you for your question which is, in fact, a question that has been at the centre of attention lately. There are many discussions about changes to the electoral law. Last week, we had meetings in Brussels to discuss the issue. I draw your attention to the fact that the draft is the result of the demands of the people. The opinion polls show that the majority of the people – more than 60% – would like to see a change in the electoral system. They want that change because they want the political elites to change. We need to keep that in mind. The draft law to change the electoral system comes in response to people’s desires and demands. There was discussion and broad consultation, with both civil society and the political class.

I draw your attention to the fact that it was we who requested the opinion of the Venice Commission, to get recommendations on improving the draft. I would like to confront and stop the speculation – which I have heard – that we will push through the law. Let me tell you this from the very beginning: we requested the opinion of the Venice Commission for the good reason that we want to consider any recommendations for improvement of the draft law. In our opinion, the draft law should secure all the democratic rights of the voters. The law should not allow for any abuse of the election process.

The issue has been highly politicised. I understand that we need to build a broad consensus, but broad consensus is a relative term because, unfortunately, our country has been polarised from the very beginning. Some of our citizens look towards the East and others towards the West, so it is difficult to achieve a broad consensus. You cannot have an absolute consensus, and we need to keep that in mind because the Republic of Moldova has been polarised for a long time. We have not been able to achieve consensus on some very important issues, even when the Republic of Moldova had to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union.

To conclude, we intend to put the draft law up for further debate and consultation. We will take on board all the proposals and recommendations of the Venice Commission so that we ultimately end up with a good quality law.

Ms MIKKO (Estonia), Spokesperson for the Socialist Group

the Republic of Moldova of has been the first among neighbouring Eastern countries to receive visa liberalisation with European Union countries. Moldovan workers can freely go abroad, and come back without complications. The question from the Socialist Group is about separated families. What measures has your government recently taken to bring Moldovans home, not so much the labour force but, more importantly, mothers and fathers of divided families?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

Thank you for that question. Offering a liberalised visa regime and providing Moldovan citizens the possibility of travelling freely means a lot. Freedom of movement is a fundamental freedom, which our citizens have now gained. The visa-free regime is just one of the incentives the European Union is providing to the Republic of Moldova. Besides that regime, we are getting support from the European Union for the renovation of hundreds of kindergartens and nursery schools. I can speak about hundreds of kilometres of road and highway that have been rebuilt with European money. I can speak about the strong support we have received for the development and implementation of much-needed reforms. At the same time, I want to point out that, since the Republic of Moldova was granted the visa-free regime, more than 1 million people have benefited from it. Although more than 2.7 million citizens have travelled outside the country using biometric passports, only 0.5% of them have violated their stay regime in the European Union, with very few of them being returned. That is testimony to the fact that it is a good regime and to the fact that Moldovan citizens are very disciplined.

On the government’s efforts to encourage people who are abroad to come back, it is not a simple issue; the solution is very complex. I assure you that we are fully aware of what should be done. There are many populist declarations inside the country, with many populists calling people back, but they will come back only when they get decent salaries and good quality public services. They will be encouraged to come back when they see good hospitals and good infrastructure. They want good services – good schools and good kindergartens for their children. It is not, therefore, a simple issue. We are not resorting to populist declarations. I mentioned that we have a comprehensive reform agenda, and that agenda aims to solve this issue as well. For instance, it includes reform of the judiciary and of the business environment, and all the reforms are being done to make the Republic of Moldova more attractive, offering people good salaries. We also need to make public and social investment, and that needs financial capacity. But how do you build financial capacity? The government does not have its own money; it has to borrow money. The government collects money through taxes, fees and investments. Investments are extremely important to us.

I spoke about reducing the number of permits, and I could talk a lot about regulatory reform. We have reduced the number of inspection authorities from 39 to 13. All such reforms are designed to make the Republic of Moldova more attractive to investors. We believe that the solution is to make the Republic of Moldova more attractive to our citizens who were forced to go abroad, so we have introduced many economic initiatives for Moldovans who would like to come back and invest in business. For example, in our co-financing schemes, every leu invested is matched by the same amount of co-funding. Those are our most important initiatives.

Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom), Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group

Prime Minister, more than a year ago you said that you had a last chance to regain trust. How much trust have you regained among the people of the Republic of Moldova, particularly when it comes to sorting out the dispute between the pro-European and the pro-Russian groups?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

That is a short question, which requires a complex answer. It is true that early last year when we took office, we were in a critical situation. Early 2016 was a difficult time. In 2015, we had a political crisis, which gradually became an economic crisis. The situation was deplorable, and the political elite lost credibility in the eyes of their citizens and our development partners. We had a daunting task ahead of us. We had to stabilise the economy, because we had to pay salaries and pensions. In order to unlock external finance, we had to take action to regain trust with our external partners, who suspended their funding in 2015.

I have heard criticism: some said that the government was like a punch bag, and others that it did not enjoy any trust. Our critics say that 70% of the people do not trust the government. It is true that we face many problems, but we need to look at the other side of things. A pollster that has been quite critical of our government conducted opinion polls in April 2016 and again in April 2017. Truth be told, in April 2016 only 7% of people trusted the government. However, in April 2017, the percentage of people who trust the government had risen to 21%, and the proportion of people who trust the police had increased from 24% to 41%. The percentage of people who have confidence in the judiciary increased from 7.8% to 24%. The proportion of people who trust the prosecution office even increased, from 12% to 34%.

Why am I giving you these numbers? In April 2016, when asked whether they would prefer to be members of the European Union or the Eurasian Union, the majority of respondents – 46% – favoured the Eurasian Union and only 35% the European Union. That was because people were disenchanted with the political elite, so the popularity of the European Union fell. By April 2017, however, the proportion of people who favoured the European Union had increased to 40%, while the popularity of the Eurasian Union had fallen from 46% to 40%. That gives me hope that we are on the right track. The cabinet and I have a simple goal: by the end of our term in office, our European path should be irreversible. No matter who comes to power after this government, there should be no turning back.

Ms RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Spain), Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (interpretation)

the Republic of Moldova has unfortunately become known for some cases of corruption in banking, such as the Laundromat case. Not only have those responsible not been imprisoned, but they continue in their previous roles. What is your government doing about corruption?

We are also worried about your proposed electoral law, which appears to be designed to remove rights from other entities in your parliament. How can citizens trust your country’s institutions if you send out such an authoritarian message?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

Your question is in two parts. The theft of $1 billion, in which three Moldovan banks were defrauded, created the economic crisis in 2015. You also mentioned Laundromat, a different case, in which, unfortunately, more than $23 billion was laundered through the Republic of Moldova. That money originated in the Russian Federation, so we should make a clear distinction between the two cases. We focused our efforts on the bank fraud case immediately after we took office, because it was a sensitive and much-debated issue in our society.

I draw your attention to the steps that we have taken. Not all the powers rest with the government, but because this was a sensitive issue, we set three priorities. First, we have taken action to ensure that such fraud will never happen again, and that was the key issue in our discussions with the International Monetary Fund. We enacted a package of laws to strengthen the powers of our national bank, and I can confirm that it is no longer possible to commit such fraud in the Republic of Moldova. Secondly, we have taken action to recover the money that was stolen from the banks. We signed a contract with an international investigation company, which published its draft report about a month ago. The company has already identified $600 million that left the Republic of Moldova and never returned, and it has told us where the money went, so we are now in a position to recover it while the investigation continues. The third step is to investigate and prosecute all who participated in the bank fraud, and some have already been convicted. The bank fraud has given rise to a lot of populism. Certain political forces have grown as a result of speculation on the fraud. You know that such frauds cannot be solved easily or quickly. Therefore, we will persevere, and once the recovery strategy is in place, we will act swiftly to make sure the money returns to the country.

Recently, by the way, a key player in the fraud has been convicted. There are different voices. Even the president of the country has initiated a referendum on the bank fraud, because the president is not happy that this money should be recovered from taxes. We believe this is a populist move. It was necessary to take that action in order to have a programme with the International Monetary Fund; it was necessary to put that money under the public debt. At the same time, as the government has undertaken to do that, we have to deliver on it. I give an assurance that ultimately all those responsible will be prosecuted and will be convicted in court

Mr HUNKO (Germany), Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left (interpretation)

I want to raise the case of Grigore Petrenco and his group. He was a member of this Parliamentary Assembly, a well-known rapporteur and now an honorary member. For the past two years, he has been subjected to a law suit in the Republic of Moldova as a result of peaceful protests against the oligarchisation of the country. The judgment is due tomorrow and he is due to be sentenced to four years in prison. A number of members have visited him and our feeling is that he is being treated as a political prisoner. What are your views on this; would you like to be a prime minister who has political prisoners?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

First, he is not a political detainee. In the Republic of Moldova we do not have that term, whether for the Petrenco case or anyone else’s; we do not have any political prisoners in the country. I have to admit that I do not know all the details on this case or the other pending cases before the court. I know there are some high-profile cases being discussed, even here at the Council of Europe, but they are very few in number compared with the 220 000 pending cases before the Moldovan courts.

We are fighting corruption in the Republic of Moldova, and when we started our fight, we were accused of not having high-profile cases and of not prosecuting high-ranking officials. Now, with the support of the Council of Europe, we have designed and implemented a strategy for justice sector reform, and over the last year and a half, dozens of prosecutors, judges, magistrates, prime ministers, ministers, deputy ministers, presidents of regional councils and heads of agencies have been detained, prosecuted and convicted. Now, after having done that, we are being accused of selective justice. We are confused: on the one hand Europe tells us we should fight corruption and this is a condition for the release of funding; but on the other hand, for example, even before Mr Shor – one of the key players in defrauding the banks – was convicted I have heard some voices in the European Parliament saying maybe he is a political detainee. We are confused because of that. There were other high-profile cases, including the case of a former prime minister who has been convicted but then after the court decision was made public all those questions have disappeared.

There is one principle here: the principle of not interfering with the judicial powers. We are sticking to that principle: the government is not interfering with the judiciary. We are waiting to see what the courts are going to decide. Of course, after that, if appropriate and necessary, we will use the instruments available to us. Those instruments include proposing legislative changes to make sure that the Republic of Moldova is a country with independent and impartial courts.

Ms DURRIEU (France) (interpretation)

the Republic of Moldova has a lot of positive capital in this Assembly, and also some doubt, a lot of it to do with the problem of corruption, but I have to say that the fact that you have come to meet our Assembly has helped dispel some of the doubts, and I thank you. Some of the things you have said are a good omen for the future of the Republic of Moldova. What are the last obstacles in terms of your reforms, as far as you can tell? Also, we need to address the issue of the media, because there is so much money – and possibly even the Russian Federation – controlling the media. What do you intend to do about that?

Mr CORLATEAN (Romania)

Thank you, Mr Filip, for the report you have distributed today. I read in Romanian and English about your government’s achievements in promoting democratic reforms and the rule of law and combatting corruption, and also the implementation of your country’s European commitments. These are positive developments. On the rule of law, how does your government intend to promote concrete means to guarantee the implementation of the decisions of the Moldovan constitutional court, for example on the official state language of the country having been recognised in December 2013 as the Romanian language according to historical truth? Is the current President of the Republic not obliged to respect this decision, which is legally binding on everyone?


The newly adopted Council of Europe action plan for the Republic of Moldova should address pending issues of concern, such as fighting corruption, increasing transparency of party funding and improving the independence of the judiciary. In your opinion, which decisive actions should be undertaken as a matter of priority to depoliticise state institutions?

Mr Filip, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova (interpretation)

Thank you for your questions. I have already talked about what we are doing to combat corruption. I am fully aware that in order to achieve good results – good economic development and welfare for our citizens – it is necessary not just to provide tax incentives and make our country attractive to business people and investors, but also to make sure there is no corruption. Corruption can be at the top or at the very bottom, so it comes in different shapes and forms. We know that there are still problems and that there is room for improvement in fighting corruption. At the same time, we have achieved good results which make me hopeful about the future. We have implemented a strategy for justice reform. We have adopted a strategy for reforming the prosecution service. Under the reform, we saw high-profile cases, with high-ranking officials prosecuted for corruption.

This year, budget revenues have been 30% higher, with the same GDP – the same trade. That is a positive result. We achieved higher revenues because we managed to put in place a good strategy, which has partially been implemented. Of course we are just at the beginning of the road; we need genuine reform of the judiciary and the prosecuting office. That is not a simple process but one thing is sure: we are moving in the right direction.

I know that there have been discussions in Europe about the fact that some media institutions are being repressed. We cannot say that there is no media freedom in the Republic of Moldova; we have TV channels where the opposition are quite critical of the government. I did not respond or react to those criticisms. What would you do if one TV channel were to criticise you and your family harshly, using words that I cannot even pronounce in this Chamber? Would you take the media to court? Yes. I did not take the media to court; I did not file any lawsuits. I did not want to be accused of putting pressure on them. However, there have been complaints that TV channels have been shut down, but once those channels received funding, they reopened. It is very nice to portray yourself as a victim until you receive financing. I assure colleagues that we have freedom of the media in the Republic of Moldova, and we will do our utmost to maintain it. We have set up a group in the Moldovan Parliament which works on improving our audiovisual law. We would like to thank the Council of Europe for its support of that exercise.

With respect to the ruling of the constitutional court about the Romanian language. Mr Corlatean, I respect this decision; I have spoken Romanian all my life, and I continue to speak it in my family. Since I took office as Prime Minister, Romanian has been the official language on our website. However, we do not discuss the rulings of the constitutional court; we enforce and implement them. I assure you that this government implements the rulings of the constitutional court. At the same time, important values such as language and national identity have unfortunately been used by politicians to divide our society. I have always called on Moldovan politicians to focus on things which unite our society and help our country develop.

As for depoliticising institutions, the latest and best example is the reform of the government that we have embarked on. We will no longer have the distribution of functions in the government based on political affiliation, but by the end of July this reform will be fully launched. Only ministers will be political appointees; otherwise we will have State secretaries who will ensure continuity and keep the institutional memory. The position will not depend on parliamentary elections. We did the same when we adopted the law on the prosecution office; before doing so we wanted to make the prosecution office independent from politics.

There is one more problem regarding the media in the Republic of Moldova: the influence of propaganda. We have prepared a draft law to combat propaganda. I hope that we will solve this problem soon because propaganda is further dividing our society. Please understand me: we will have serious discussions about that and we will request the expertise and know-how of the Council of Europe. We are not speaking about closing down any TV channels but about replacing their news bulletins. We should not be importing news bulletins from other countries but should produce them locally.


I thank you most warmly on behalf of the Assembly for your statement and your answers this afternoon. The Republic of Moldova is one of our solid partners. In your statement you describe a number of areas of success and mutual co-operation. This has been an opportunity to discuss concrete initiatives in support of ongoing reform relating to the implementation of the commitments and obligations of a member State. Prime Minister, I wish you, your government and the people of the Republic of Moldova every success.