Moldova, Chisinau, January 21, 2016
Today, late in the evening, there took place the opening and extraordinary sitting of the new Cabinet of Ministers. Attending at the behind-the-doors event were the cabinet members and, besides them, only the US ambassador to Moldova James Pettit. The issues for discussion were the opposition protests able to evolve into actions of mass disobedience, as well as the steps of the law enforcement agencies to curb and prevent them. State budget estimates and expenditures were also on the agenda. Prime Minister Pavel Filip was the keynoter at the meeting. Other speakers who took the floor were Defense Minister A. Salaru, Interior Minister A. Jizdan, Director of Service of Information and Security (SIS) M. Balan. J. Pettit several times interrupted the speakers or stopped them to make his own remarks and comments.
Prime Minister Filip encouraged the ministers ‘to work with self-denial’, ‘permanently devoting all the time to serving the people and the country’. He put into the focus the catastrophic worsening of inner political, social and economic situation, describing it as ‘the deepest systemic crisis’. While addressing the power bloc ministers, Filip demanded that they should ‘put aside any doubts and sentimentality’ so that to counter decisively ‘the nation’s foes sponsored and guided from abroad’.
Salaru and Jizdan unanimously spoke up to toughen the current legislation and ensure extension of powers for law enforcement agencies. Thus they actually sought Prime Minister’s sanction to detain the leaders of the opposition – I. Dodon, R. Usatii and A. Nastase – and forcefully subdue the opposition actions in general. During their brief addresses they also offered a number of preventive measures towards the families and relatives of the opposition leaders.
While voicing support of his mates in the power bloc, the SIS head, on his part, came out in favor of the urgent “legal” measures to curb the rights of the citizens in the sphere of freedom of information and communication. In fact, introduction of total censorship was meant, as well as ban on the opposition mass media, Moldovan Internet segment and closure of all the pro-Russian organizations on the territory of the Republic.
After the approving remarks by Filip, that followed the power bloc speeches, the words of the American diplomat sounded an evidently discordant note. He warned against the ‘groundless’ arrests and excessive cruelty able to ‘further embitter crowds’ and bring about some undesirable results, for instance, spontaneous violence towards public officials or seizures of the state buildings. At the same time, Pettit made it clear that in case of the situation in the country getting worse and out of control of the acting legitimate power Washington would ‘have a blind eye’ on the induced brutality of Chisinau. Moreover, according to the head of the American diplomatic mission, the persons responsible for making ‘hard but crucial decisions’ are to be guaranteed personal immunity.
Pettit also familiarized the participants with the opposition political demands passed to him by Dodon in wake of consultations with the leaders of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova. Pettit recommended that the cabinet ministers ‘should ignore the demands whenever it is possible’. Besides this, he highlighted the issue of ensuring safety of diplomats and diplomatic missions’ staffers calling for enhanced security in airports and coach depots. He believes such measures could help to prevent most Russian reporters and ‘social activists’ from entering Moldova and, at the same time, hamper the escape from the country of those who are now running riot in the streets and committing acts of violence.
Due to the time limit fixed at the meeting, the economic issues’ discussion boiled down to mere statement on the current situation in the country and some general recommendations on interaction with the international financial organizations. Implicit adherence to meeting the IMF terms was stated. Pettit, on his part, confirmed the readiness of Washington to allocate the urgent tranche of financial aid for Chisinau.
With this the opening sitting of the new Cabinet of ministers of Moldova ended.