Exclusive: Plahotniuc regrets Dodon's excesses, does not forget Filat and has an offer for JurnalTV
The Democratic Party President, Vlad Plahotniuc, said in an exclusive interview for Deschide.MD that Moldova will not cancel or renegotiate the Association Agreement with the EU, and will not sign an agreement with Eurasian Union, qualifying Igor Dodon's statements made in Moscow as purely election. According Plahotniuc, Vlad Filat pays a price too expensive for his mistakes. The PD president denies his involvement in the situation of Jurnal TV and comes with an offer for the media trust. In the interview, Plahotniuc explained on the issues related to the possibility of early elections, government restructuring, bank fraud, the "Laundromat" the relations with Romania and Russia, and other current topics.
R: Mr. Plahotniuc, you are considered by many as the man who builds the staging and directs multiple moves from the political scene for us. For years you have preferred to stay in the shadows of decision making, being billed as a "The Puppet master" of the domestic political theater. Things have changed lately, and you took the lead "in law" of the PD was not an unexpected surprise. The increased frequency of your public appearances, the verbalization of attitude and positioning, all paved the way for the exit to the ramp. Vlad Plahotniuc stepped forward, he did it also in 2010 and in January 2016. What is different this time?
VP: There are many differences, not just of the context. When I entered in politics in 2010, I hoped that I enter into an area where the competition is based on how are promoted the political ideas and projects, I thought that after removing the communists from power, the political arena will develop. I was wrong, I actually found a great chaos, a lack of organization of parties, much populism, few political ideas and much pride, frustration, fights for positions. I entered in politics with unrealistic expectations, I quickly understood and took a step sideways, not back. A step that would allow me to evaluate a neutral zone how I want to involve myself further.
R: Some say this side step was actually a positioning in the shadow of politics...
VP: If we look at how some are flocking on the political arena and theater which takes place there, yes, I can say that I was not really on the stage, I was rather in the backstage, I let certain plays to consume themselves, and people who are attending this show should give feedback. And they gave them, there were already several political reconfiguration.
R: Why did you candidate for the position of Prime Minister, wasn't it also an attempt to come forward?
VP: For those who can lose the emotions and the wrong image that was projected in public, I think my gesture is clearer today then back then. It did not cost me anything to carry another hysterical media campaign, given that the final outcome was the stabilization of the country and a government that started to work. We need to be less superficial and not to limit ourselves to understand the first step, and to follow the next steps, but especially to understand them. What happened then, gave a positive final result.
R: You mean it was a tactical move then?
VP: No, it was a political move, in a context that you remember it very well, dominated by the hysteria falsely triggered by two groups led by criminals who wanted to cause chaos in the country. There were several ways we could solve this crisis. I chose a more complicated one, but it has proved later that it was a good one.
"Vlad Filat pays too much"
R: Did you withdraw in the backstage to start wars with your competitors and political opponents, and now the scene would be "swept" and you can play with all lights lit up?
I mean that Filat is convicted, Platon - imprisoned, Topa brothers - refugees in Germany, Usatii - refugee in Russia, Maia Sandu, Nastase, Leanca - in Post-election "hibernation", Voronin - matters a little, Ghimpu - on the paved road with 1,8%. Do you still have any worthy opponents? There are fears that we might end up with an authoritarian regime in the absence of worthy opponents to the "coordinator of majority"?
VP: If we were to take each case individually, to look closely, you'll see that many of those you've mentioned swept themselves. Remind me please with which of them I have started, on my own initiative, any war? If you look objectively what happened in the last years, you will see who are the ones who started this war and why. And the time has not said the last word yet, it just start to show the reality partially, but there are more needs to be proved. I have patience, and if you will also have, I suggest you to return sometime to this topic from the interview, when all things will be clearer. Now I limit myself to say that I do not believe in the efficiency of solving problems through wars, they leave damage for everyone, only the size of the damage differs. That's why I try to avoid them, I initially prefer to seek peaceful solutions, even if it takes more and more concessions must be made.
R: Why do you avoid to answer to some allegations made by Vlad Filat?
VP: Because it would not be fair, humanly speaking. Vlad Filat is where he is, he pays probably for some mistakes, for how he formed his entourage, he pays a lot, I think too expensive ... I look at things subjectively, it is true, from the perspective that he was a colleague of the coalition, when has been done some important positive things in the country.
R: But Platon?
VP: He was never a real politician and he did nothing good for the country, do not create confusion.
R: Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase?
VP: As I said in the speech at the congress, they are a funny imitation of Vlad Tepes and Snow White. They never came with a political project, they both entered in politics with a single obsession, on the model already missed several times by Topa offenders. They did not come with anything new, they have not proposed anything concrete to people. Their only project was to overthrow those in power and to install them, and for that they were ready to trigger a major social crisis, they tried to block the external funding for Moldova, including the agreement with the IMF. It did not matter for them that people could remain without pensions and salaries, the important thing was to raise their functions. Two adventurers, who are struggling now to find topics with which they can come out in front of people, so they will not be forgotten. The big problem is that the opposition is unable to prove that it has ideas and better solutions than the ruling parties.
R: To what extent are right those who accuse you of having assembled the current majority government from backstage, that you made use of various levers to be more convincing?
VP: The paradox is that some of those who are saying that, are indirectly exactly the authors of this majority coalition. The mistakes they made and how they have tried to trigger a political and social crisis which led to the formation of this coalition, to which has joined the people who were against chaos. And here I give just one example: PLDM. If they really wanted to do something for the country, they should have been stayed in power and impose their point of view from inside, to generate changes in this way, they would have had the whole fraction and could have done many things. However, they chose to form an alliance with the offenders Topa, in their project to take over the power, they have probably promised them more positions and other benefits.
R:What was the most inspired decision that you took as the "coordinator from the shadows"? But the most unfortunate?
VP: I will not limit myself in my response to decisions taken by me, because in coalition we take collective decisions. A very good decision of the coalition was the appointment of Pavel Filip as Prime Minister. He is a man who is serious about his job and works very hard. There were also some very difficult decisions on voting of some laws to clean the banking sector. As well everything that is related to the package with the IMF program. I do not doubt that there were some unfortunate ideas or actions, some of them we may have already corrected, others are in the process of correcting. The important thing is to correct ourselves when we make mistakes. And since we took over the power we have shown that we can do that. And the results has been seen both by improving the international country rating from B3 negative to stable, and the fact that in 2016 has been recorded the lowest rate of inflation after 2009 onward.
"Reforming the government, is Prime Minister's attribute. We will not have anticipated elections"
R: How are the relationships in the current majority, there are political differences in the coalition or not? How took the government partners the idea of reforming and reducing the amount of government ministries? What will you do if some of your partners of government will not accept these adjustments?
VP: The relations in the coalition are political, we have a common worldview, based on which we act, but obviously there appear different opinions on certain topics, we are different, it's normal. It would be strange to be otherwise. It is important that we talk openly, we listen to each other and find compromise solutions to divergent topics, so we can work efficiently. Regarding the government reform, I will not go into the technical area, it is Prime Minister's attribute. But politically there is the will in the coalition to make this reform. The Government is to come up with the final vision and to take the political decision.
R: What are the odds to reform the current majority in the sense of removing or bringing new entities in the coalition?
VP: Why it should be a reformation when things go well? We have a stable majority and we have no reason to think about that. Fact that the it could appear some MPs who want to join the coalition is another question, and the doors are open.
VP: Reforming the political class has to start from the exit of the scope of the show and populism, the return to people and their needs. But that will not happen as long as people will not have control over politicians. Now, this control is carried out at most once every four years, which is not sufficient and effective. We have to find formulas that would give people more power over politicians. In connection with the uninominal vote, this cannot be decided by me. I proposed once this solution, the foreign partners whom I consulted then approved the idea, but internally there were some who got very scared that citizens could exercise a stricter control over them. Many politicians prefer to hide behind party logos and electoral lists, as if they were ashamed of their name and their past. If they do not want uninominal vote, other ways could be found to help people to control the politicians. The important thing is to accept that it is the right of people to have better control over the activity of politicians.
R: One of the opposition politicians said that you intend to trigger the anticipated elections in this year and to introduce the uninominal vote before that. What's true in all this?
VP: You see how detached from reality are these politicians that you are talking about? So far they struggled to trigger early elections, they saw that they cannot, now they blame me that I want anticipated elections. This speculation is ridiculous. There will be no anticipated elections triggered by the opposition nor by the power. Moldova needs stability and peace so they can begin to truly evolve. Moreover, I specify that no change concerning the electoral system cannot be made less than a year before the election. So all this speculation with the anticipated elections preceded by changes in the electoral system is just a manipulation to generate confusion in society. Another lie of the opposition, to be more specific.
R: Pavel Filip remains Prime Minister until the end of the term?
VP: Yes, he has the full support of the party and he does a good job. He will take his office until the end and I am sure it will be a mandate with important results for the country.
„There were attempts to blackmail to me”
R: At the congress you said that all those who should be convicted, will be. For now behind bars end small CEOs, and not heavy names. The big ones get resignations at most. Will it pass to another level as well, to officials with higher responsibilities?
VP: There were also people in high positions, especially this year. Equally important is to fight the phenomena that directly affects the people, such as what happens to customs, health, police and other fields. You can see some positive signs, but it is still much work to do. What we as politicians could do was to vote laws that offered legal institutions the necessary instruments to fight corruption effectively. It remains to see how this toolkit will be used.
R: We are already in early 2017 and ... where's the billion, where are the culprits, who pays? There were also accusations against you, did you had any benefit from the BEM fraud? Even politically, if it was.
VP: The fact that have been towards me accusations, especially from some who have benefited directly from the frauds in the banking system did not surprise me, this is their way to defend themselves. The great suffering of some is precisely the fact that they could never prove their allegations and they know that I had no involvement.
However, here not their false accusations are interesting, rather the fact that there were some attempts to blackmail me, from abroad. I speak about it publicly for the first time. Some have thought to take advantage of this situation to do some fakes with which to take me as a political hostage of interests that were linked to Moldova. This seems to me seriously and I reacted very firmly to this kind of blackmail. It was a battle that was not given in public, publicly it could have be seen a few splinters that have jumped. The fact is that I did not give in to these tests and I will not yield any further, no matter what kind of tests will be, from which direction will they come, what kind of fakes will they use.
Concerning the recover of the defrauded money from BEM and punishing the culpable, it is the duty of law and justice institutions to act, to bring light. The theft from BEM took place over many years and several governments, the investigation must be complex and people to know who are those who laid the foundations of fraud schemes and who are the beneficiaries.
R: The Laundromat, washing over twenty billion dollars through our judicial system created us the image of a state that not only failed, but completely mobster one. You knew about this case? What is true from Platon's allegations and his men against you?
VP: This case has caused major changes in the banking system. All those laws that were in the package for the IMF program, presumed to strengthen the banking system so that such situations can no longer take place. These changes occurred last year, including with my political involvement and have greatly disturbed those who actually were behind these schemes of money laundering. Not incidentally were stepped up the accusations against me exactly when these changes were produced. Some people would have agreed to continue to use our country for money laundering, that there would be no legislative strengthening of the banking sector. Now judge logically, even if it was something true from what say those that you specified, would I have supported these changes just for the sake of the IMF program?! Those who launch such accusations are actually the individuals who were used in the implementation of these schemes, who today are hiding in different countries and victimize themselves to mask their involvement, but time will settle each of them in their places, according to deeds. Their millions that they pay to the NGOs from abroad or from Moldova will not help them to cover their criminal activity. The law enforcement institutions must continue to seek the whole truth and the culprits.
R: In the Laundromat case you said: "Platon did not manage his money, he was just the man with the schemes of money laundering, and behind him stood important people." I do not suppose you referred to someone from Moldova, do you know who they are? We'll we find out?
VP: I referred to people outside of Moldova, we do not have such important people here, with such amount of money.
R: From Russia?
VP: At this question should answer those who are now hiding from liability, those who continue to act in the service of the persons concerned to prevent the state institutions to know the truth.
"I expect Jurnal TV to give me a request with the due technical data. I can offer them a good solution"
R: Another accusation is linked to the Jurnal TV situation. Did you stay behind the initiative to oust them from the office, so that they may not fully broadcast their programs, what led to big employee bleedings?
VP: As for their office I am not aware of the situation. I am not linked to them and I declare now publicly that I am ready to seek for a solution for them to have a decent office, so that the ones from Jurnal may overpass this problem, may hire the people again, if it really was the problem they were kicked out for. I expect them to send me a request with the due technical data in order to work and I am sure I can offer them a good solution. Although they criticize me all day long, I think it’s good for them to broadcast as they used to, I find rather political advantages in their critique: all the untruths said about me do nothing but show, at the right moment, the difference between them and reality. Therefore, I am ready to help at solving this problem, especially if the final result is that all those journalists fired unfairly, in my opinion, could go back to work. I am, however, afraid that all we have is just a victimization campaign, hiding something even uglier. We’ll see. My proposal is public and I am ready to get involved in finding a solution.
R: You were also accused of pressing certain institutions as the Audiovisual Coordinating Council (CCA)?
VP: The CCA has been an institution under steady attacks all these years. It has got to work rather slowly, and that’s also because that institution has not been reformed profoundly. I think it needs to be reformed radically and its powers need to be revised. The contest of selecting its members should be reviewed so that they will be specialists in the domain, renowned personalities, but not people from politics. The discussion about the CCA should be wider and refer to a big reform of this institution.
As for Jurnal TV’s accusations to the CCA’s address, the answer is exactly residing in the fact that this television has been able to broadcast without any obstacles on behalf of the CCA.
"The Association Agreement with the EU will not be scrapped; we won’t sign an agreement with the Eurasian Union"
R: How do you assess Igor Dodon’s visit to Moscow? There were many tough statements. Are they going to be put into practice?
VP: The answer is already in your question: there have been tough political statements. Actually, we have had a materialization of president Igor Dodon’s electoral statements. However, these statements are going to stay political. There will be no cancelation or renegotiation of the Association Agreement with the EU, nor signing an agreement with the Eurasian Union. All those run counter Moldova’s strategical interest. On the other hand, we are interested in a most open and constructive dialog with the Russian partners, in order to find the best ways of developing and speeding up the strategic partnership. Nevertheless, those ways are going to be found in the functioning governmental format.
R: There are voices saying this conflict of yours and of the PDM with Igor Dodon is actually a makeup. Did you know what the president was going to do in Moscow?
VP: Did you not know? Obviously, he was expected to make tough statements, even you, the media, anticipated them. However, I said it back in the electoral race what my position was going to be on issues as the Association Agreement and staying on the European model of country development. All we have done now is to send this stance officially, politically, in the PDM’s name. Unfortunately it’s not a setup conflict, it’s a real, totally different vision of developing the country, what should not however hinder the institutions to work efficiently and on the basis of the ruling program attached to the present Cabinet.
R: How will you build your relation with the president Igor Dodon?
VP: Why should I build a relation with Igor Dodon? The institutions should discuss with him, this in the limit of Constitution. The Prime Minister and Parliament speaker are those who will determine the way of cooperation with the presidential institution. What we asked as coalition representatives was to not allow any constitutional slip. And here I will intervene personally, so that we could block politically any slips against the state or citizens. Moldova is led at the decisional level by a pro-European governance, not a pro-Russian president.
R: What do you and PDM think about the identity war brought by Igor Dodon: Romanian-Moldovan, Moldovan language-Romanian language, Romanian history versus the history of Moldova?
VP: Feelings, this way our country was kept all these years. People want to live better, but some politicians try to feed them bad feelings, to make them fight between themselves, so that people will have their minds busy. This is one of the things I want to change in politics, which we discussed thoroughly during the PDM Congress.
“President’s statements cannot affect our relations with Romania”
R: What is your opinion on PSRM and Igor Dodon proposal for federalization of Moldova?
VP: I think that a solution for the Transnistrian problem cannot be found by Igor Dodon, it has to be found through dialogue, in the 5+2 format, and not outside it. There have to be analyzed the solutions, arguments accompanying them, evaluated how they are reflecting the interest of citizens from both sides of Dniester river.
R: How will you build the relation, dialogue with the right-side opposition – PLDM, PAS, DA Party? How do you see this relation?
VP: I am for a constructive relation with the opposition, when the opposition is one politically real, which comes with solutions, does not express only frustrations and emotions. Now we do not have a real, a political, and a constructive right-side opposition. However, I hope it will appear. It is also important for governance to discuss with politicians form opposition, who are coming with critics accompanied by realist solutions, which might be implemented.
R: Romania is the most important supporter of Moldova. Will Igor Dodon’s actions affect relations with Romania? What is the red line Igor Dodon should not cross when it is about Romania?
VP: I saw that the last declarations of the president did not pass unobserved in Bucharest. However, we have a very solid partnership with Romania both as governance, and as party, PDM being the political partner of PSD, the party winning the elections. Categorically, president’s declarations cannot affect our relations with Romania.
R: As PDM president and as a man who has important relations in the Romanian political environment, how do you see the relations between Bucharest and Chisinau now and especially in the future?
VP: I see them galvanized, especially now when our political partner won the elections so categorically. However, I see pragmatically this activation, through elements, which will help Moldovan people. In the last years, Romania did very important things to Moldova and we rely on the support that will help modernize our country.
R: But how do you see the Moldovan-Russian relations? With whom do you communicate and cooperate more from Russia (parties and institutions from this country)?
VP: Aside from that which is promoted sometimes falsely in the public space, our relation with Russian Federation is one a positive tendency. Of course, there is room for improvement, and we as governance and parliamentary majority will make everything possible to stimulate this relation. It matters less with whom and how much we communicate, what is important is to make it efficiently. I said that Moldova is not in the situation to make geopolitical choices; we have to make one choice, to collaborate efficiently with all people, so that we will obtain specific benefits for our citizens.
"I don’t build my political project around one position"
R: As the leader of PDM already officially, not only unofficially, in what position do you see yourself in the future? President or prime minister of Moldova?
VP: I build my project around the final objective, not a position. Positions are relative and not always help you reach your objectives. The support you find, the team you build in order to reach your goal is more important. Thus, my answer is that I do not target a position.
R: For how long will you stay in politics? Recently I said that you do not see yourself in politics for an unlimited period.
VP: If I sent a message to my enemies, whom I am hindering to get the country in their hands and to do their interests, I would say that I stay in politics forever. In reality, I will stay until I will see that Moldova is a solid country, is not vulnerable anymore, and entered a definitive way of modernization.
R: The position of PDM president obliges to a better communication with the media and in general with the society. Will you organize press conferences? Will you accept “confrontation” with the media?
VP: The position of PDM president will oblige me to a better communication with people, especially direct communication and through actions for them. Of course, I will also talk to media, more actively than before, but do not expect to see me daily with press conferences or on TV. Politicians should go and listen to people, and not make speeches in front of the camera.