Sunday

24th Jul 2016

Interview

Hunting accident threatens Moldova's pro-EU course

  • 'I never thought things could come this far,' says Moldovan PM Vlad Filat. (Photo: European People's Party)

Moldovan PM Vlad Filat says he lost a no-confidence vote last week because he asked the prosecutor general to resign after he tried to cover up an accidental killing on a hunting trip.

"There was a direct link [with the killing] because I always said that when a crime is committed - and in this case there were two crimes: a killing and a cover-up - we cannot close our eyes, especially when the prosecutor general is involved," Filat told EUobserver in a phone interview on Monday (11 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The prosecutor, Valeriu Zubco, was part of a group of some 30 people who went on an illegal hunt in the Domneasca Forest natural reserve on 23 December.

It is unclear whether he or another hunter, appeals court judge Gheorghe Cretu, accidentally shot and killed the 34-year-old businessman, Sorin Paciu.

But the prosecutor was forced to step down after it emerged he did nothing to report the killing to authorities and hid his weapon.

Filat's erstwhile coalition partners - the Democratic Party (which nominated Zubco) and the Liberal Party - then ordered a wider anti-corruption purge, including into Filat's political party and into the country's banks.

The Liberals also accused Filat himself of corruption.

The Democratic Party then asked for the no-confidence vote, which was passed with the votes of the Communist opposition and some Democrats.

His old allies have so far ruled out any new coalition formula that would keep him as Prime Minister. If there is no new bargain, the country will face snap elections.

Filat told this website the crisis took him by surprise.

"My request was approved unanimously by the parliament and all responsible people were removed from office, including the prosecutor general. But some of my colleagues in the coalition took this the wrong way, as an attack on the party who nominated the prosecutor general," he said.

"I never expected things to degenerate to the point of taking down an entire government," he added.

At stake is Moldova's pro-EU course, amid fears that if the pro-Russian Communist opposition gets back into power, it will take the country in a different direction.

Coalition talks are set to resume next week when Filat returns from Brussels where he is meeting with centre-right leaders ahead of an EU summit on Thursday.

He says he is not willing to pay any price to keep the pro-EU coalition together, however.

His red line is having an independent judiciary and state institutions that are "not serving party interests or even personal ones."

"This is not about giving up one post or another, this is about setting out an objective - the rule of law - and implementing it. We need functional institutions, we need EU values to be applied, else we only have processes with no content. And the discussion about who gets what post in the government does not solve the problem," Filat said.

"We want to be a factor of stability for Europe, not of instability," he noted.

Moldova was until last week a success story in the EU's efforts to reform the six post-Soviet states on its eastern flank.

It is a success story that the EU badly needs.

Ukraine is backsliding into authoritarianism under President Viktor Yanukovych. Georgia is consumed by political infighting. International monitors noted "serious violations" in Armenia's recent presidential elections, while Azerbaijan and Belarus are out-and-out dictatorships.

Moldova, albeit still Europe's poorest country, saw its economy grow by 15 percent over the past three years.

The pro-EU government has adopted a series of reforms to boost media freedoms and human rights and to attract foreign investment. Its anti-graft body has also started an investigation into Russian money laundering through Moldovan banks, a case linked to the murdered Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

It is currently negotiating free trade and visa-free travel agreements with the EU and there is even talk of giving it a European enlargement perspective in November.

When Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski visited Chisinau last month he recalled the violent unrest on the streets of the capital back in 2009.

"I first visited the Republic of Moldova in the period of street riots. Frankly speaking, I thought then that you were heading towards the future of a failed state. Now, Moldova is taking firm steps towards accession to the EU," he said.

For his part, EU neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele on Monday wrote on his Twitter page that there is "no time to give up on Moldova, no time to put emotions above national interest, wasting what has been achieved."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event Agenda for 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels

Latest News

  1. Munich attack might not have been terrorism
  2. A very British (and Corbynite) coup
  3. Poland 'changing for the worse' for Muslims and refugees
  4. EU aims to lift visas on Turks despite purge
  5. ECB in ‘bail-out’ of scandal-tainted VW
  6. EU failed to learn lesson from Brexit, Poland says
  7. UK accord on EU workers 'crucial', France says
  8. EU and US take different lines on Turkey crackdown