INTERVIEW // Pavel Filip, about the freedom of a PM and the independence of the Republic of Moldova
With the most important national holiday when we celebrate 25 years of independence approaching, the Prime Minister Pavel Filip gave an interview to the portal Deschide.MD. The interview’s author proposed to “filter” the notion of independence through both the vision of the citizen Pavel Filip and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova.
With the most important national holiday when we celebrate 25 years of independence approaching, the Prime Minister Pavel Filip gave an interview to the portal Deschide.MD. The interview’s author proposed to “filter” the notion of independence through both the vision of the citizen Pavel Filip and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova. I have not left unapproached the social-political topics that after the festive ceremony and military parade will become again priorities in the government coalition.
On August 27, we are celebrating a quarter of century since the Republic of Moldova is an independent state. Where was Pavel Filip on August 27, 1991? How remained in your memory those events?
I remember that time as if it was yesterday: I was 25 and I was a young man, in Chisinau, very set on work, on great deeds: beyond the usual schedule, I celebrated with my loved ones, friends, the historical moment. They were days loaded with symbol, all great hopes of a new beginning were being expressed, it was a general feeling of joy in the air and expectation of another world.
During those 25 years of independence, our country faced a deep identity crisis. How many citizenships do you have and which is closer to your soul?
I have the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova and the Romanian one. The citizenship of the soul is of course the one of the country where you were born. However, I feel very close to the Romanian nation, both through close people I interact with there and through the relationship with the state institutions there and the support Romania constantly grants to Moldova.
What sentiments felt the citizen Pavel Filip on the “inauguration night”, on January 20?
Contradictory. This is not because of how the government was inaugurated, but because to me it was clear then, what many find out just now - that behind those protests were several individuals and provocateurs who represented certain interest groups, including abroad. There were some people who were playing with the citizens’ legitimate discontent: it was normal for people to be unhappy, but it is not normal to see how the sense of the protest is filled up with bad faith. The embarrassing circus in the Parliament was not a natural reaction of society, but a manifestation of a hysterical behavior, which was part of the plan that continued in the street with those assaults and violent demonstrations. For me it was harder that I had to take a decision very quickly, to accept or not this function; it is a function that I never wanted and I tell you directly that it is not a function that gives me the professional comfort that I want. However, I understand perfectly what it means to be a statesman, not a simple politician, and to be at the helm when the historical moment requires a steady hand for stabilization and reforms. I probably have certain prejudices, after this function has been highly politicized lately. I see the Prime Minister position mostly outside the politics, rather in the institutional management and that is what I try to do: less politics, more efficient administration and institutional organization.
What are the most valuable advices that you have received in the last six months from your sons and wife?
They enjoy to see me and to talk about anything else except Government. Things have changed since I became Prime Minister, the time for the family has reduced, but I am trying to make the time I have with them more valuable.
It is very clear however that in this position you must be persevering. You have to push things forward in terms of resistance to change within the system; and on the other hand are scarce resources, the needs are great and complaints are inevitable. However, the Government should not bother trying to change things, to explain what it does, to talk to all social categories and present them what can be done now and what will be possible later. No matter how complicated it would be for the government, I never forget that it is harder for ordinary people, who still have small pensions, small salaries.
How independent do you feel?
I think I am the Prime Minister with the most freedom in actions after 2009. Moreover, I do not say it as it would be my merit; the merit is firstly of the team, coalition colleagues, who understood that the Government can work effectively only if it is allowed to work freely and is supported politically.
What you want to associate your name with in the history of the next 25 years of independence. If there will be independence…
I am not looking for a place in the history; I do not have such objectives. In the history does not remain who wants, but those who change things, I want to have prosperity in activity and results, along with my colleagues, that is all. I would like the actual Government to be the one that laid the foundation of the first radical transformations and started the modernization of Moldova. I want it to remain as a reformist government. I know it is not easy, I know what difficulties are created by reforms, but there is no other way if we want to evolve. I think that so far we have proved we are the government of facts, respecting his word. I believe that time will prove that we are the government of good deeds. In addition, I would want that the regained trust of Moldovans in Moldova could partly be associated with this government.
You are proposing to make the most extensive Central Public Administration reform from all 25 years of independence. You want the reduction of 4 ministries and more governmental agencies. When will happen this thing?
I begin with the main idea that we have a state that should serve its people, not the people exist to support the state bureaucracy. Now we have discussions in the government and coalition and will come out publicly on the subject of the Central Public Administration reform, only after having a clear vision and an optimal calendar: the official announcement will not be late, it will be made in September. The final organization chart is not yet ready; we are working on it, because we wanted to involve local and abroad experts, so this reform will bring more efficiency. It is an extremely complicated proceeding that takes time. I hope that in the near future, we will have final discussions with the parliamentary majority, then we can move to implementation. Realistically, I think a start period of actual implementation would be in January 2017; until then we must finalize preparations for these major institutional changes. This action is absolutely necessary, the current structure is outdated and cumbersome, we must adapt to current needs.
Development partners welcomed the steps that the Filip Government took to reach a new agreement with the IMF. However, some of the required reforms will be very tough. What are most complicated actions that you have taken during the negotiations of this agreement?
The agreement with IMF is not always simple, but what we assumed, we will achieve. I saw that there are already “visionary” voices, which already know we will not achieve what we assume; these are the people led by impressions and probably by that bankrupt dream, as Moldova will fail. Moldova will not fail, we will have an agreement with IMF, and we will do what we assumed, because we need this agreement firstly as a reform plan and actions necessary to economic and social equilibration. The main commitments are related to the banking sector, where we should intervene to strengthen it and create the circumstances that will not allow the situations we had in the past. It is complicated what we have to do, but everything is achievable when there is political will. I avoid now to give retorts to those who do not believe in signing the agreement with the IMF, they are the same who said that we would not be able to start negotiations and they were wrong. We will continue to respond by results, not by useless polemics. People are tired of polemics; they want to see actions and results.
In the past two years, the independence of the country was under constant risk of an economic crisis caused by fraud in the banking system. In the autumn, we will see if the stolen “billion” will fall or not on the shoulders of citizens. If deputies will oppose this project, will the Government find alternative?
The project is in Parliament in the only form that can be implemented under current conditions, modeled on that used by several European countries in crises at certain banks. If the deputies will come up with other solutions, we will surely analyze them. I told those from the opposition to leave demagogic speeches on this subject and come up with a better solution if they have one. We are open to analyze any constructive proposal.
One of the problems that has faced Moldova in all its years of independence was energy security. How soon you see our country's interconnection to the Romanian energy system?
This is a strategic project for Moldova, as well as natural gas network interconnection project. It is a project that we are still working on, but it is a fact that the overall funds available for investment were lower last year. Economic problems in 2015 have led Moldova to focus on absolutely vital investments like schools, hospitals and roads. With the economic recovery that we foresee for this year, the budget will allocate larger amounts for projects that slowed down lately. Good news is the quality of bilateral relations with Romania, Cioloş PM’s visit was a great bilateral success, we will see results after the political signal.
Meanwhile, concrete steps are taken but constantly, including the recently held meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission of Moldova - Romania, Working group on energy. There is an ongoing feasibility study; a cooperation agreement was signed between Moldelectrica and Transelectrica. We will speed up steps, while being aware that it is a project for many years and it is part of the overall national effort to connect the country to the infrastructure in the European Union.
Another problem that milled permanently the stability in Moldova was generated by the constant tensions with the Transnistrean region. How do you see the situation improving in the current geopolitical conjuncture?
Such situations are resolved only through dialogue, but an active and constructive dialogue. It is a sensitive subject, which is why it must be resolved at the negotiating table. From our side there is the will to advance the negotiations.
However, I would like to point out that the situation on the Dniester is stable and permanent objective of any government in Chisinau is this stability. We want to have as normal as possible relations, to have a better circulation of people and goods. Therefore, our efforts in the area of diplomacy will continue, we hope to progress all the time and we never give up the goal of reunifying the country.
The messages of the Russian Federation submitted through military applications on the Dniester, recruitment at our home, many polling stations in Transnistria, high-ranking visits in Tiraspol and a lot more, becoming more aggressive. You recently wrote about this pressure and the increasing Russian propaganda in your editorial from The Hill. What do you expect from external partners on this matter and what you intend to do to counteract the phenomena that you have described?
Foreign partners can help in their role as mediators, they can help with expertise, but they cannot solve these problems alone. That is why I said it is important to communicate actively and be really sincere in the desire to advance the negotiations.
At the same time, we will continue to present to our European and American partners the developments in the field, so they would have an accurate knowledge of reality and to our diplomatic efforts to add the diplomatic efforts of the European Union. We count and we will continue to count on constant interest of EU diplomacy and national diplomacies of some important EU countries to maintain peace on the continent, and on the significant ability of these diplomats to stimulate the dialogue, to mediate between the parties. America is also a reliable partner with whom we want to build more, not incidentally we communicated frequently through international Anglo-Saxon media.
Have you thought about how will you arrange relations with the next president if he comes from the left-wing?
No matter where will the next president come from and who will he be, I think he must be a man of dialogue, an institutional man with respect for the Constitution, and a man who should be able to represent the country at the highest level. I'm sure that people do not want a conflictual President, a man who will come and start institutional wars and throw the country into a deep political crisis. We need at least a few years of stability to put us on track definitively. I will have a constructive relationship with the future president, an institutional right one, that of course if he will be a man who will want this and comes in this position to work, not to represent different interest groups or certain interests outside the country. I think Moldovans will elect the president as they wish, a Moldovan who will represent them, not someone else's interests in their country.
It is certain, however, that the government's commitment to modernize the country and to support the European vector will be maintained after the presidential election. Moldova has an Association Agreement with the EU, is implementing this agreement, and whoever is elected president will have to take into account this. The Government I manage is the guarantee of European road, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.
Mr. Diacov told Free Europe that your name is one of the three discussed by the party for the presidential election? To what extent would you like to change the Prime Minister seat on the President one?
My name was not discussed on the official level in the party. I don’t know to what referred Mr. Diacov, probably to some surveys, not something concrete.
I personally think I can make a maximum contribution by still working in the government. On the other hand, there are many other colleagues who are eligible and can handle honorably and skillfully the president position. Shortly, PDM will come up with a decision that is for sure.