„… the process of integration must continue, because it is in the fundamental, nay existential, interest of everyone, not just the Europeans” – these words of Vaclav Havel were reminded by Moldova’s Prime Minister Vlad Filat. And European politicians should remember that, he added in the interview he gave to Tomasz Horbowski and Eastbook.eu.
Tomasz Horowski, Eastbook.eu: Mr Prime Minister, you met today with your Polish counterpart and the President of Poland – what did they say and what exactly does Poland offer Moldova?
Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova: I must admit that today’s visit is very important to us. For years Poland has been an advocate of Moldova, not only through words but also actions.
You support our European direction, providing us with expert assessments, financial aid and technical assistance. Recently we have also welcomed Polish investments.
Today, at the meeting with President Bronisław Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk I had an opportunity to present the current situation in Moldova. I spoke about reforms, successes and challenges we face. Your two leaders assured me of Poland’s support, which, I must admit, remains essential to us. Poland, just as Moldova, suffered under the communist regime and, therefore, you can understand us much better than others. We also regard Poland as a perfect example of a country who managed to implement substantial reforms. In addition, you are a significant player within the European Union. Thus relations with Poland are of great significance.
A few weeks ago, Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, outlined, perhaps not directly, the perspective of EU membership for Moldova. At last this “light at the end of the tunnel”, as you described the membership, has appeared. What comes next?
Well, I perceived the Commissioner’s words as a rather clear declaration, which, of course, relates to the Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty. What now? We just go towards the light. That means no empty words and decrees but concrete actions – making reforms, building a society on democratic values and strong, market-based economy.
Mr Prime Minister, European politician seem to notice your efforts. You have received general approval in EU capitals and Moldova is called a success story of the Eastern Partnership programme. Yet Moldovan citizens do not share the enthusiasm so openly. Opinion polls show a decreasing number of supporters of the EU integration. What is the reason behind this fall in popularity?
I do not agree with this statement, for Moldovans still back the idea of integration. You just have to look at our parliament – 60 percent of the MPs, meaning 60 percent of those holding power in my country, support joining the EU. I do not feel the need to enter a debate with experts, but let’s not forget that polls results depend on how the questions are asked. We also monitor our society’s moods and opinions, and we know with absolute certainty that the majority of our citizens support us in what we do. The EU integration undoubtedly remains our main priority.
Do you still believe in the Eastern Partnership? Many have already thrown away the whole programme…
The Partnership has been a EU project and it will keep on going as such. However, we must remember that each individual state included in the initiative has a chance to either use it as a path towards the EU or decline the offer. For us the EaP is the offer we had taken. And we plan on continuing to follow the EaP path.
But what lies ahead?
It is a relevant question – and yes, we should already think about the future. Thanks to the Partnership we started negotiations on the Association Agreement and the DCFTA, and – as everyone knows – the documents are to be signed quite soon. As we have a defined perspective of the EU membership, we should follow this direction further – to become a full EU member in reality. And this is what I was discussing with the Polish President and Prime Minister today – the ultimate goal of Moldova is the full, formal membership at all cost. We do not want to be a Cinderella of the European Union – we want to fully participate. Moldova does not want to merely take – we want to give and share, be a guarantor of stability and security. I would like Moldova to be a value added within the EU.
What is the approach of the other side – what do you here from EU leaders? Are there any promises given?
To tell the truth, I do not wait for any promises from the EU. We perfectly understand what tasks are ahead of us, what conditions as well as obligations we must meet – they are the very same that any other country aiming at EU membership has been presented with. All we hope for is that the evaluation of our efforts will be just and Moldova will be able to take this opportunity.
Mr Prime Minister, a few weeks ago, on your way to Moscow, you said that Moldova would not sell the idea of EU integration for cheaper gas. How much are you willing to pay for this idea?
Please try to understand that, if we are talking about the future of my country right now, the price we pay for gas is not the problem. I do not want to set the European integration against our relations with Russia. The relationship between our two countries works quite well, though obviously there are still issues we must settle. It must be enhanced that such a conceptual opposition – EU vs Russia – regarding Moldova is quite harmful.
You have asked about the price, but each reform, regardless of its extent, costs both a state and a society. And we are ready to pay, understanding how fundamental those reforms must be. We cannot have a life standard of a EU country while working according to a Soviet state’s standards. I do not want to cite numbers here, but I remain assured that the Moldovan society is ready for tough times as a side effect of much-needed structural changes. All in the name of a better future in a better country.
There is another issue which might influence the integration process with the EU: Transnistria. Is it going to become the obstacle on your path towards the Union?
I believe that the integration with the EU is also the key to the reintegration of our country, bearing also in mind the actual format of the negotiations. What we can do is to provide a real alternative – better conditions, and democratic governance and state institutions – for citizens living on the left bank of Dniester, whose needs are to be fully respected. We can do this only if we follow the EU path.
What if the local residents oppose?
This question is incorrect, for we have a common aim, clear to everyone, including our partners: it is the territorial reintegration accordingly to the Constitution of the Republic and rules acknowledged on the international arena.
As a conclusion, I would like to ask you, Mr Prime Minister, who among European politicians Vlad Filat values the most?
Europe has many excellent politicians whom one can only try to equal – their number is great. One of them is, undeniably, Vaclav Havel, who numerous times underlined that the EU integration process must continue, for it is of fundamental meaning to Europe and the whole world. I am certain that every European politician is obliged to remember these words… For they are true. Events taking place in Europe influence the regions beyond it. The European Union retains its status as an example of stability and peace – this year it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize not without reason. Please do not forget it!
Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova, paid a working visit in Poland on 29 October 2012. During his stay, he met with Poland’s President Bronisław Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk, among others. Moldova’s Prime Minister also gave an inauguration speech at the College of Europe in Natolin.