Info-Prim Neo interview with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Moldova Dirk Schuebel, in connection with Europe Days in Moldova
The tenth round of talks on the Association Agreement was held in March, concurrently with the first round of negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Moldova and the European Union. How is the dialogue developing and at what stage is Moldova in the European integration process?
We cooperated very well in the European integration process of Moldova during the last three years. We held ten rounds of talks on the Association Agreement. The eleventh round will take place at the start of June. We completed negotiations on 23 of the 25 chapters. As to the agreement on the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Moldova and the European Union, we had a successful round and the second round will be held also early in June. We have ambitious goals, namely to close the negotiations on both of the themes by September 2013, when the Eastern Partnership Summit will take place in Vilnius.
How is Moldova dealing with the implementation of reforms that can bring it closer to the EU?
I think that Moldova made progress in implementing reforms over the last three years, but there is yet a lot to be done, especially as regards the reformation of the justice sector and the law enforcement bodies. We offer assistance in this process. As you know, the budget for the justice sector reform this year is about €52 million. We will also help with the other reforms. Moldova made progress, but is yet to do a lot of work.
Before the President of Moldova was elected, they invoked the political crisis in many situations. Now that the head of state was elected, will things change and will the reforms be done quicker?
I always said that the country needs a head of state. I’m very glad that the President was elected on March 16 because I consider that the head of state is an element of stability in the country. The elected President has a rich experience in the justice sector and I think he will play a very important role in the justice sector reform that is very necessary. I believe the reforms will be done quicker and the President will play an important role in this process.
The Moldovan authorities are no longer so optimistic about the obtaining of a visa-free regime with the EU in the short term (it is naivety to believe that Moldova will get a visa-free regime in one or two years, said Marian Lupu). They say the EU imposes insurmountable conditions on the states applying for a liberalized visa regime. Where does this distrust come from?
I already said that I consider Marian Lupu is too pessimistic in this connection. Two years and a half ago, we agreed a whole package of activities that Moldova must now fulfill. I do not understand this skepticism because things go on very well. We moved to the second phase of the dialogue on the visa regime. I will be very glad if it turns out that Marian Lupu is wrong and he himself will be glad if he is wrong.
What should be done for the Moldovan people to see personal interests in the European integration process and to take part in it, and to press the authorities into stepping up this process?
First of all, the people should be more involved in the European integration process. They should be more active and become involved in the process of democratizing Moldova and in promoting the European message. I think that good steps have been taken during the last few years. Civil society became much more active in such areas as the consumer rights and the environment, not only in the political sphere. In my opinion, civil society became more active in the country’s regions as well. When I came in 2009, civil society in Moldova was active only in Chisinau, by now the nongovernmental sector is more active in the regions too. There is active civil society even in the Transnistrian region, with which we cooperate.
We celebrate Europe Days in Moldova during May 12-19. In 2006, when a reception was given on this occasion for the first time, this holiday became larger in scale. This year it will reach Comrat. Why was this destination chosen? Will the scale of the holiday be extended next years?
Europe Day in Moldova is now marked on a large scale. We consider that this is a wonderful occasion to show the people how Europe is like not only in politics, but also in culture, to speak to the ambassadors and to find out the traditions of the European countries. We always celebrate first of all in Chisinau and also in another town. Last year, it was the municipality of Balti, but this year we choose a southern town because we consider that Comrat is a very interesting town, also because it is the capital of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. I’m sure it will be a very nice holiday for the Gagauz people and not only because there are also other towns nearby, like Cahul. The organization of the holiday in the future depends also on the financial aspect. We do not have much money, but the holiday turned out well and we hope that next year it will be celebrated in Chisinau and another town as well. I know that they celebrate Europe Day in many Moldovan settlements. I will travel to Balti on May 26 as I know that the people there organized celebrations themselves and I will go there with pleasure.