Saturday

20th Apr 2019

EU diplomats trying to verify reports of Moldova abuses

  • Moldova police on 7 April: authorities stood back during the protests, but came down hard in the days afterward, reports indicate (Photo: benia.livejournal.com)

EU diplomats in Moldova are trying to verify reports of gross human rights violations in the aftermath of anti-government protests, with Brussels stressing the need for engagement with its eastern neighbour for now.

An open letter from the mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, circulated on Tuesday (14 April) showed disturbing photos of 23-year old Valeriu Boboc, a protester apparently beaten to death by police following post-election riots last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The letter says up to 800 mostly young people have gone missing in the past six days, in contradiction to official reports of 200 arrests.

A second plea signed by Moldovan civil rights lawyers and a representative of the Soros Foundation says detainees were snatched by plain clothes police, beaten with clubs and bottles of water, stuffed 28 to a cell and denied food for up to two days.

"We urge Your Excellencies to make an official visit to Moldova as soon as possible to assess the situation 'on the ground'," the text, addressed to the European Commission, the Czech EU presidency and EU top diplomat Javier Solana, said.

The allegations of "torture" come atop a widely-documented crackdown on media, which has seen parts of the internet and mobile phone networks shut down, video cameras smashed, local journalists fleeing into hiding and international press denied entry on the border.

Mr Solana's special envoy to Moldova, Hungarian diplomat Kalman Mizsei, has been in Chisinau for the past week on a mission to establish a dialogue between government and opposition forces and to gather facts.

Mr Solana and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin during a phone conversation at the weekend also discussed the possibility of sending a more formal EU fact-finding mission to Moldova in the future.

The proposal has not yet made it onto the agenda of the EU's first post-Easter holiday meeting on eastern European affairs, the "COEST" working group - a regular gathering of low-ranking diplomats from the 27 member states.

But Moldova neighbour Romania says it will make the human rights question a top priority in upcoming EU events, including at a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers on 27 April.

"The allegations against Romania are used to take away attention from the real problems in Moldova - the economic situation, which is not encouraging, and the result of the elections, which seems to be incorrect," a Romanian official told EUobserver.

Competing narratives

President Voronin says Romanian secret agents in Moldova, Europe's poorest country, tried to orchestrate a coup d'etat in the form of mass protests after his Communist party narrowly won a general election.

The opposition says the elections were rigged and that government provocateurs hijacked a peaceful, spontaneous protest to spark violence, giving authorities a pretext to impose harsh controls.

The vote is to be recounted on Wednesday. EU officials in Chisinau say the atmosphere is "calm," but some opposition groups have urged a boycott of the recount in favour of a second vote instead.

The EU last month included Moldova in its "Eastern Partnership" scheme, an initiative to upgrade relations with six post-Soviet neighbours, with President Voronin initially expected to take part in a special EU partnership summit in Prague on 7 May.

The Czech EU presidency and the European Commission say the decision on who to personally invite to the event will be made closer to the date. But both have so far stressed the need to engage with problematic governments.

Rough neighbourhood

"The events in Moldova show that it's all the more important for the EU to have some leverage in the region," a Czech diplomat said.

"Despite the crisis, the situation is (still) better than in Belarus, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (though deteriorating fast)," European Council on Foreign Relations analyst Nicu Popescu wrote in his blog for EUobserver.

"The neighbourhood is so bad that Voronin will still make an 'Eastern Partner,' though a worse one than before."

EU seeks mini-trade detente with US

EU states have agreed to open trade talks with the US in a bid to rebuild relations with their oldest partner on the world stage.

Interview

Russia divides Europe's eurosceptic parties

Divisions on how to handle Russia's "neo-imperial appetite", among other factors, are set to block Italian Matteo Salvini's dreams of a new EU league, Jan Zahradil, a leading Czech MEP and a candidate for EU commission president has said.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us