The delegation of the European Parliament was very pleased to have been present as observers at these parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova. This is a country with which the European Union has a deep relationship founded on the Eastern Partnership and the EU-Moldova Association agreement which entered into force in 2016.
This Agreement is based on common values, including respect for democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms. This is a relationship which we want to develop and strengthen. However, there has been a deterioration of democratic standards as a result of recent decisions by the Moldovan authorities, including the adoption of the July 2017 electoral reform. This was adopted despite the negative recommendations of our ODIHR and Venice Commission friends. Another issue of concern was the invalidation of the results of the early mayoral elections in Chisinau.
These developments have led the EU to suspend the disbursement of its macro-financial assistance to Moldova. The European Parliament has stated that any future disbursement of this assistance should be on the condition that these parliamentary elections are conducted in line with internationally recognised standards.
The concerns raised by the European Parliament in its past resolutions are even more important now in the light of these elections, which are of huge importance to the future of the EU-Moldova relationship.
Our delegation subscribes fully to the statement of preliminary findings and conclusions of the international election observation mission and I would like to express our thanks to Mr Matyas Eörsi, the Head of the ODIHR EOM, and his team for their excellent support and cooperation, and also to the other Heads of parliamentary delegations and their colleagues. I would also like to thank the Head of the EU Ambassador, Peter Michalko, for his huge assistance to us during our time in the country.
On Election Day our delegation observed the vote and the count in and around Chisinau, Anenii Noi and Comrat. It also observed in the region of Dubasari. Our conclusions echo those of the other observers, however I would like to focus on a number of specific issues. Firstly, we observed the large scale organised movement of voters that took place by bus from Transniestria to polling stations. This situation contrasted starkly with the difficulties experienced by members of the substantial Moldovan diaspora in voting in the elections because of the decision of the Constitutional Court to end the practice of allowing Moldovans abroad to vote with expired passports – a decision which came less than six weeks before the election, thus preventing many from obtaining new passports in time. At the same time they were not allowed to vote with their IDs, unlike the voters in Moldova itself. The European Parliament Delegation was also struck by the lack of consistency between polling stations in the treatment of the ballots for the referendum. Other concerns that we had include such issues as the inadequacies in the secrecy of voting in polling stations.
We were impressed by the vital role played by women in the management of the electoral process. However, it is a matter of regret that a relatively small number of women were in the ten top positions on the national lists.
Turning to another area of concern that is also covered in the Preliminary Statement, we regret that the elections have taken place against a backdrop of decreased public trust in state institutions. This distrust has been deepened by the introduction of the new electoral system which took place with a lack of inclusive public consultation.
We call on all stakeholders to show political maturity and responsibility and to give priority to the country’s interests. No one else can do this for them, and it is the only way to restore the trust of the people of Moldova and renew their faith in the country’s future.
The European Parliament – and the European Union in general – will closely follow post-electoral developments in Moldova. And what takes place here in the coming weeks and months will have a major impact on the future of our relationship.