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Quo vadis Moldova: substantial street protests and lack of solutions from the current government in the EU-candidate republic

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On 19 June 2022, the president of the Moldavian Republic, Ms. Maia Sandu, gave an interview to Radio France Internationale (RFI). Just a few days before the EU looked set to grant the candidate status to the embattled former Soviet republic, and during substantial street protests in the capital Chișinău, the president declared: ”We are concerned about the situation in which our citizens find themselves, not about corrupted political parties. But it is clear that it is their right to exploit citizen’s unhappiness, their problems. I do not have solutions. There are no good solutions for this situation. (...) But to protest anybody can protest. We are in a free country and protests are natural”. writes Vlad Olteanu, Brussels based EU Affairs Consultant.

Yes, you read well. Not only that the president and current government do not have solutions to the severe economic and social crisis facing Moldova but, interestingly enough, there are no good solutions. In other words nobody else could find good solutions to the current crisis. With such a declaration and attitude, it is no wonder that tens of thousands of citizens took the streets of Chisinau in a large-scale protest. The anti-governmental protest was organized on 19th of June by the civic movement „A New Life”, which aims to democratically and peacefully remove the PAS government from power. Main requests? People came to the Great National Assembly Square  to demand the resignation of the PAS led government and the convening of early parliamentary elections. People also protested because of rising fuel prices, food prices, high gas and electricity tariffs. According to them, the PAS government has brought not only low level but also middle-class citizens to the brink of poverty and, for a year, since they took over all power in the eastern state, they have brought nothing but crises and despair. Present at the protest, MP of the opposition  Party “SHOR”,  Mrs. Marina Tauber, declared that today, following this protest, the process of holding responsible the PAS government started, and the only solution for overcoming the crises and poverty are early elections: "Today, the governing party, PAS, has all the power in its hands. The Parliament, the Government and the Presidency. They have no excuse. They can't lie anymore, and nobody believes them when they say that someone else is guilty for the difficult times they brought to us. They are guilty and no one else. Neither the war, nor the international context, nor the opposition. The only ones responsible for what is happening today are only PAS and Maia Sandu. Today we start the engines of change and no one will be able to stop us. We know that they will put a lot of obstacles in our way, they will try to stop us and get us out of our way, but they will not succeed. We are not going to stop here, we will go to the end until we drive this government out of power. "

The President of Orhei district, one of the biggest regions of Moldova, Mr. Dinu Turcanu, declared that since PAS came to power, it has produced a real political and administrative disappointment.

"The government has launched an extensive process of purging staff, replacing professionals in the system with people loyal to the political power, who show incompetence, bad will and a complete lack of vision. Today, the entire state apparatus is facing an acute crisis of specialists, and because of this, the central administrative system has collapsed and is no longer facing the challenges. Today we are beating the first nail in the political coffin of the current government ", said Dinu Țurcanu.

"I want us to live well with everyone, not to be drawn into wars. Moldova has the right to live in peace. Today, we must tell these rulers to pack up and leave, to leave us alone. I heard that Maia Sandu is preparing for the vacation. Let her leave completely, let her not return ", declared the MP from parliamentary opposition faction ”Party SHOR”, Mr. Vadim Fotescu.

Simple citizens, recorded by independent journalists covering the protest, also shared their unhappiness with the current government and its inability to fix important economic and social problems: "There is no worse government in the history of the Republic of Moldova than the one we have now. The government promised us 2,000 lei (approximately 100 euro) a month as a regular pension. But they only increased in part. They lied to us, and then they made everything more expensive. How to manage daily life when a bread at the store costs 10 lei? We worked a lifetime and ended up starving. I think it's time for this government to leave. Get down this government ", said a pensioner, participating in the protest. Continues a teacher: "As days go by, the disappointment is growing. This government, which has declared itself to be the promoter of the interests of low-paid professional employees, including teachers, nurses etc. has turned its back on them, in a short time, including those who voted for them. We can no longer bear this outright mockery. We want a better life! We will fight for our rights, for the future of our children! Let's unite for a better future, for a better life for each of us!”.

At the end of the meeting, a resolution was passed calling for the protests to continue until the government resigns.

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According to the information from Moldovan press about 40 000 people took part in the protest.

As Moldova was granted the EU candidate status on June 23rd, the government needs now to quickly and thoroughly look for effective solutions to the current economic and social chaos and implement them in a timely and consistent manner. Not fixing such a poor economic situation and letting inflation go into double digits would surely delay any next step of Moldova towards European integration. And will only increase the path and size of legitimate citizen’s actions. Trouble is that the President said it: “there are no good solutions to the current problems”. At least not from the current PAS-led government.

The author, Vlad Olteanu, is a Brussels based EU Affairs Consultant.

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