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Damaged democracy in #Moldova

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Delegates from Moldova's newset political party have been visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg to appeal to MEPs for assitance in getting the head of their party, Ilan Shor, released from almost one year's house arrest.

In 2013, after many signals about the catastrophic situation in a large Moldovan public bank "Banca de Economii" (BEM), it was allowed to put it in the hands of private investors. It was established that the bank could become bankrupt following the issuance of unsecured and irrevocable credits. For more than 15 years the outflow patterns of the bank's funds involved senior BEM executives as well as senior government officials.

In August 2013 the Government took the decision on the additional issue of the bank's shares in the amount of 80 million lei and their sale to private investors. According to the results, the share of the State decreased to 33.1% and the shares were bought by the private companies. Some time later Mr. Shor was elected Chairman of the Board of Shareholders. Independent expertise showed a gigantic financial hole, nearly 600 million euros, which was not included in the government documents. By imposing the bank on private investors the government with Vlad Filat at its head has hidden the true dimensions of the disaster.

Attempts to save the BEM with the participation of Mr. Shor's personal bank "Banca sociala" and even of a Moldavian bank "UniBank" were suddenly interrupted in 2014 when the rights of the new shareholders were annulled by the Judicial Chamber Of the Republic of Moldova and the National Bank introduced special management in the BEM. All manipulations with the funds of the public reserves were made only under the control of the State, in particular of the National Bank.

The situation in the bank was aggravated at that time, since the credits issued under pressure to the firms affiliated to Prime Minister Filat were added to the damage of the issuance of unfavorable credits in the past years. This is the ordinary pattern of corruption in which the senior official demands the business of under-the-table bribes, in the form of irrevocable credits.

Ilan Shor was arrested and placed under house arrest. In 2015 he was released following participation in local elections. He won the victory in the elections and became the mayor of Orhei, a small town 40 km from Chisinau. To the general opinion, today Orhei is a most dynamic and successful developing city of the Republic of Moldova.

By feeling an aggrieved party having suffered financial and reputational damage, Shor is actively cooperating with the investigation. His sincere narrative condemns the senior official for corruption for the first time throughout the history of the independence of the Republic of Moldova. Former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who is the current MP, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.

In 2016 Ilan Shor was elected president of the party "Equal Rights" which was accordingly called the SHOR Party. The party offers its candidate for the post of President of the Republic of Moldova but it is lifted from the race for reasons invented.

During all this time Ilan Shor does not leave the territory of the Republic of Moldova, he appears at the first call to interrogations, to the audiences. There is no reason to suspect that he can enjoy his freedom to influence the investigation. Yet on June 22, 2016 by the court decision Ilan Shor was first detained in a remand prison and then under house arrest. This greatly limits his rights and the ability to effectively carry out his obligations to the elected mayor and the political party in legal pursuit. Several attempts by lawyers to challenge this coertion measure have been unsuccessful.

On 22 June a year passed from the time of Ilan Shor's house arrest. In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova it must be pronounced a judgment or release him until 22 June. The prosecution has already stated that it intends to challenge a likely decision on the release of Ilan Shor. This contradicts legislation.

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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