PM Chicu and The Three Letters
In the political establishment of the Moldovan state, a “three letters” anecdote has been circulating concerning the politician’s career. According to the story, after his appointment, a newly sworn in official received three letters of advice for times of trouble from his predecessor.
Out of curiosity, the official decided to open the first letter that stated the following: “Blame it on me, your predecessor”. The piece of advice helped the successor during the beginning of his term. After an additional period, facing significant difficulties, the politician opened the second letter that claimed: “Promise significant change”. True to the previous successful experience, the officer followed the plan. Nonetheless, further in critical conditions, the official opened the last letter that read: “Write three letters.”
Returning to the realities of Moldovan politics, the activity of the current Prime Minister, Ion Chicu somewhat resembles the political anecdote. After his vote of confidence took place on the 14th November 2019, the newly sworn in PM launched several attacks towards his predecessor, Maia Sandu, claiming her budgetary work failed to transfer State employees’ wages on time due to the “performance of former super-specialists that adjusted the budget” . The allegations, however, failed to present real facts and represented an attempt of PM Chicu to change the unfavourable media talk points, after the fall of the pro-European Sandu government.
Moreover, after the change in office, the European Union decided to freeze the ongoing macro-economic financial assistance, as well as the specific sector support until the new government fulfilled their two main commitments: the anti-corruption efforts and the reform of the justice system. With the previously expected to arrive macro-economic support out of the picture, the newly elected government had a significant budgetary gap to close.
Nonetheless, President Igor Dodon, considered the person behind the technocratic Chicu government, emphasized the necessity of transforming Moldova in 2020 in a “building site”, with hundreds of kilometres of roads planned. The move, supported by the new “non-coalition” of pro-Russian Socialists Party (PSRM) and the former ruling Democratic Party (PDM), is of particular importance to Dodon due to the upcoming fall presidential elections.
Loyal to his role, after a visit to the Russian Federation, Chicu announced that the Moldovan Government would access a $500 million credit from the Russian government for the “electoral” projects. As of the end of February 2020, the credit has not been accessed so far, with the promised amount “shrinking” to $300 million. Moreover, no official documentation has been released so far regarding the (political) conditionality behind the discussed credit, with the PM describing the loan as a “sovereign credit” with no additional conditions. The situation is highly reminiscent of the credit offered by Putin’s Russia to the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, at the beginning of the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine in 2013. With further criticism due, last Friday, the PM acknowledged that the money would not arrive in the upcoming weeks due to required rectificationsin the Russian Federation’s budget.
Notwithstanding the criticism towards the proposed infrastructure plans, PM Chicu went on the offensive with an op-ed in the Western press, while President Dodon used the Council of Europe Parliamentary session to reaffirm his vision over the neutrality of Moldova and the necessity of cooperation between the European countries and the Russian Federation.
Returning to the “three letters”, it is without a doubt that PM Chicu has passed the first two commandments. Although the past week has seen renewed (unofficial) efforts between PSRM and PDM to officialise their governmental alliance, new development can shadow the current discussions. On the 19th of February, former VP of the PDM, Andrian Candu, left the parliamentary group and the following day formed a new group “Pro-Moldova”, together with 5 PDM colleagues. Candu mentioned dissatisfaction with the direction the party has taken recently and disclosed that additional MPs from his former party would follow his group.
Although it is unclear if this recent development will be enough to jeopardize Chicu’s government, rumours have surfaced surrounding a potential spring reshuffle as a pre-condition for the finalization of the expected “Platforma Social-Democrată Din Moldova” (Eng. Social-Democratic Platform from Moldova). Therefore, the time may soon come for Mr. Chicu to prepare the letter commandments for his new successor.
The author of this article is Emil Burinschi, B.A. student in International Relations at the Corvinus University of Budapest. Born in the Republic of Moldova, Emil is a Middle Manager within the International Diplomatic Student Association (IDSA.) He is also part of the organizing team at Munapest 2020.