Codru Vrabie: The pre-2017 ”golden era” of anti-corruption in Romania was falsified

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Codru Vrabie (photo: Vlad Stanciu, Asociation INK)

An interview with the expert of good governance about the false dilemma that Romania would be either the country of the prosecutors, or the country of the corrupted politicians, about the hope for social and judicial modernisation in Romania today, about the phenomenon Laura Köveşi, about the role of the future European prosecution in Eastern Europe and about the way Romanian anti-corruption looks like, when seen from Chişinău

Vladimir Mitev

Codru Vrabie is a civic activist, trainer and consultant on topics related to good governance, transparency, accountability and integrity in the public sector. He has contributed to many reforms in the judiciary and public administration of Romania. Vrabie has BAs in legal and political sciences (Romania, Bulgaria, the USA) and MAs in administrative sciences and European affairs (Romania, Netherlands, Spain). He has been working for various Romanian civil society organizations since 1998. In 2010, Vrabie started working with the “Leaders for Justice” programme, which was replicated in 2017 in the Republic of Moldova. In April 2018, Codru joined the team of the telegraful.net website, where he works on the podcast series ”Hypotheses” – a project of the ”Courage Ahead” Association (Curaj Înainte).

This article was published on 17 March on the Romanian section of the site „The Barricade”. 

Mr. Vrabie, you have been affirming for some time at your blog or in other media that justice in Romania seems to be at a crossroad. In your view ”the politicians in government do everything possible in order to manage to change something (in their advantage)” in the justice system. On the other hand, ”again in the last two years a part of the society, other politicians, some experts in Bruxelles, Strasbourg and Venice, and the magistrates themselves, oppose those changes”. You believe that Romanians need something different in the discussions on justice. What do these public discussions lack? What do the supporters of the government in its effort to oppose ”the abuses” from the ”golden era” of anti-corruption don’t understand well and what do those who consider Laura Koveşi and the anti-corruption prosecution DNA infallible don’t get right?

There is a lack of acceptance of realities. Each of these camps is blocked in its own rhetoric. No one makes the natural step to listen, to understand and to accept that the other side could also have a valid view. For example, even DNA doesn’t pretend to be infallible, but the supporters of DNA glorify and mythologise the institution. I can understand that Romanians need to hear stories of success, but it is much wiser no to lose our minds in fairy tales.

If we look more systematically at what is going on with us, we would have plenty of chances to discover what matters and what not. We know that in the past at least 15 years we had to resolve some problems, connected with corruption and some problems, related to justice. We also knew that we have problems with the supremacy of law. The need for simplification of political messages led us to a situation, where all those problems are mixed in the same pot. But they are very different and don’t need to be treated as one.  

From the standing point of supremacy of law, we are in a situation, where it is not easy to understand which is the applied law. We have plenty of laws, which contradict one another. The practice of government’s emergency decrees completely perplexes us (the emergency decrees have the power of law and are adopted without consultation at the parliament – note of the translator). Statistically, each week in the last 20 years Romania has been adopting 6 laws in Parliament and 2 emergency decrees at the government. It is almost impossible to respect the law, especially when the officials in the public administration have a disproportionately big and discretionary power to interpret the laws. The situation is even more difficult, because the practice of the emergency decrees circumvents the separation of powers in the state.

The mechanisms for verification and control can’t deal with all that. The administrative mechanisms are not sensitive at all to the needs and rights of the citizens, while the judicial ones don’t have the capacity to solve the immense number of citizens’ complaints in a reasonable amount of time. The already mentioned legislative inflation leads naturally to corruption. This is what happened in the 90s, when the citizens learned, that it is more advantageous to pay a bribe and to obtain exactly what you need, than to lose time and nerves in fight against the state. That is how beside the violation of the supremacy of law and the separation of powers, we reach to the systemic violation of the fundamental rights of citizens.

All those are social phenomena, which consolidated themselves over the 90s and in the beginning of the 2000s. Then appeared also the first voices, saying that Romania had begun to have a problem with the rule of law, because of the systematic violation of the supremacy of law, of separation of power and of the fundamental rights. The simple fact that democratic elections had been taking place and that the transfer of power took place without open conflicts between the political actors in power and opposition was not sufficient. If we were honest, when we would see us in the mirror, we would recognise that this is the most important reason for the creation of the famous CVM – The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism of the EU.

The solution which Romania adopted then was not to take measures in order to eliminate the causes. It rather applied make-up on the effects. The legislation remained just as chaotic, the administrative incapacity and the judicial incapacity were again on high levels, but Romania invented an institution, which could make some kind of a clean-up – the famous DNA. For some time this institution used to give some results, but for me it was obvious that these results couldn’t last long, and couldn’t be sustainable. It was because the causes were not eliminated.

What we see today in the Romanian political landscape are the effects of decisions, which were never taken. The discussion about corruption and anti-corruption circumvents the causes I have mentioned earlier – the impossibility to respect the law, or the high costs for respecting the law. This affects, evidently, the way justice functions. It was natural that corruption in justice would appear too, if all the other solutions were quite expensive. Ok, it could be too harsh to say “corruption”, but I refer to a certain form of perversion of justice, through different types of abuses.

Unhappily for us, our politicians feel comfortable and are sufficiently populist for them no to attack the causes of the problems at the roots. The reform solutions which were applied are problematic too. In the last two years we see the ugly face of this populism, because it overlaps with the need of some politicians to save their skin, to avoid entering in jail. For those in power it is convenient to change the judicial law and the penal codes so that they could escape clean. For those in opposition it is convenient to demonise all that the politicians in power fo, without considering what are the causes for this present situation.

Using the constitutional text, which stipulated that prosecutors act under the authority of the minister of justice, the power in Bucharest tries to subordinate politically the activity of prosecutors, and even of judges, if that is possible. The immediate effect would be that some politicians would avoid jail. But the long-term effect would be that the Romanian state could lose the capacity to bring to responsibility all the other types of infractors, beside the corrupted one.

Given that misfortune never comes alone, in the haste to adopt these reforms (which also contain good ideas, but ideas, which are formulated in a poor way), those in power have managed to pervert two fundamental mechanisms of the Romanian state: the professional court and the people’s advocate. The emergency decrees can’t be attacked by any institution, except the people’s advocate. So we have reached a situation, where he takes no longer care about the constitutional rights of the citizens, but is preoccupied with the protection of the imaginary rights of the people in power.

Given that the decisions of the Constitutional Court can’t be controlled by any other institution in Romania, the politicians in power have taken care to obtain a favourable majority in the court. That is how they pervert all the principles of the rule of law with the explicit blessing of the constitutional court. It seems to me illustrative in this regard how the Constitutional Court has violated the principle of separation of power in state: in some conditions it behaves as a third chamber of the Parliament, dictating how law should look like; in other cases it behaves as a mega supreme court, deciding what appears to it to be illegal.

The situation is unacceptable, and the responsibility for the correction of all those deviations from the principles of the state of law is already equally distributed between the Romanian politicians, including at the level of the presidency and in the parliamentary opposition. I believe that there are very simple solutions to the identified problems, if our politicians would have the disposition to listen to all the arguments and to make a pact with the following points, which are to be applied intact as soon as possible:

  • Respecting of the constitutional text and of the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court with regard to the emergency decrees – which would mean that we won’t have more than 2-3 emergency decrees per year – they will be used only in real cases of urgency;
  • explanation of the constitutional text, which refers to the authority of the minister of justice upon the prosecutors, so that prosecutors’ independence is preserved from the political factor (the parliament could adopt a law in this sense, preferably through consensus);
  • rejection of resolving political conflicts through the use of the political majority at the Constitutional Court and explicit acceptance of the obligation to protect the rule of raw (the supremacy of law, the separation of powers, the human rights) by the tandem – the people’s advocate (ombudsman) and the Constitutional Court;
  • revision of the legislation in the sense of elimination of the discretionary power of the officials in the public administration, so that it would be easier for the citizens to respect the law than to break it, and we would recover our trust in institutions;
  • introduction of measures for growth of the administrative and judicial capacity, so that the citizens’ complaints are resolved in good faith in reasonable deadlines and in the spirit of the law (I include here also measure for prevention of corruption through managerial means).

You have compared the entering in force of the emergency decree 7 with yoke upon justice. This emergency decree strengthened the section for investigation of the magistrates, which was taken out of the control of the general prosecutor, and gave the government the possibility to intervene direct in the judicial system. What happened in justice after the introduction of the emergency decree 7? Does it put an end to the project for social and political modernisation of Romania, in which justice was considered to be a key element? And what would be the solution for the relations between justice and the political system, so that Romania doesn’t remain crucified between the two extremities – either “the country of the prosecutors”, which throw the politicians in jails, or the country where the corrupt politicians neutralise and destroy the magistrates, who oppose them (Laura Koveşi is accused penally at this moment in two separate cases)?

I can’t accept this logic – that it is with the one or the other option. I think it is very dangerous to believe that Romania can’t exist in harmony, that it has to be either the country of prosecutors, or the country of the corrupt politicians. I prefer those tentations towards corruption to disappear, and prosecutors to be rather anonymous. That is why I put an emphasis upon measures for prevention of corruption. They don’t deal with justice, but with the way the managers in state institutions manage their activity to the benefit of the common people.

For example, I liked very much the news that the European Parliament and the European Council have reached an agreement on the future European directive on the protection of whistleblowers. If a director of a state institution is sufficiently intelligent and is a man of good faith, he would know how to use this legal framework in order to clean his institution from those who are corruptible, so that he could correct the procedures, which make the respect of law difficult. Ok, maybe prosecutors will use much better the information for some period of time, but this is their role – to protect us all, the honest citizens, from various types of thieves.  

But let me return upon emergency decree 7, so that you don’t think I circumvent the answer. Through the legal changes you have mentioned, the minister of justice subordinates politically a number of prosecutors (the section for investigation of magistrates), and by way of them he can put pressure on any other magistrate. Let us don’t forget that the judicial inspection is under the control of the same minister. The mechanism is simple to guess: if a prosecutor starts an investigation against a political friend of the minister, this prosecutor could be intimidated through the judicial inspection or through the section for investigation of magistrates. If a prosecutor goes further and sends the accusation in court, these two elements could be used by the minister against the judges, which take over the case. I don’t want to think how these instruments could be used, if they would be aimed at some personal enemy of the man, who occupies the position of justice minister. It is fearsome.  

Thus, the emergency decree 7 is a turning point in the evolution of the rule of law, in which justice is no longer a key element. It is rather a direct victim. I have already explained that justice was never a key element in the social and political modernisation of Romania in the last 30 years. It was much more a Cindarella, which was expected by all the people to prepare dishes and to clean the house. For a very short period of time our justice was seen as a princess, but it lost its magic shoe and was transformed back into Cindarella, a much more worked-out and humiliated Cindarella.   

Cindarella’s magic shoe, in the case of Romanian justice, was the protocol for collaboration with the intelligence services. From there have started to be seen all the other problems, which didn’t function well. Once that the collaboration between DNA and the internal service of intelligence SRI was exposed, we could say that politicians have wanted to bring justice back to the position of a servant, just like the step mother and the sisters did in the fairy tail. This is where two natural questions are born:

  • Is there a prince at all who would seek for this Cindarella? If yes, I hope he will not come with the same magic shoe, because we don’t need a justice, which bases itself on the secret collaboration with the intelligence services.
  • Once that Cindarella has managed to escape from the position of maid, is it indeed so wonderful as it had been described so far? I hope that she will be able to reinvent herself on the bases of the pact I discussed in my answer to the firs question. She may not be a princess at all. But let it be at least a women with head on her shoulders, whose legs are firm on the ground.

In other words, I think that we are located at the turning point now, but only the people from the judicial system can show us whether they have the power to resuscitate the principles of the rule of law. They call on to the entire society should come from them, because the politicians do not merit trust for such a measure. Fortunately, we see that there are citizens who want a change for good in justice. We see them in public demonstrations, on the streets and on the squares in the entire country. Unfortunately, they still don’t know how to articulate what exactly they want. this is one of the reasons why they are attracted by the mirage of messianic figures.

But we see that there are also magistrates who know how to be opposition. I don’t mean only those who have protested on the stairs of the courts in the country. Neither do I refer only to those who have written memos to the experts in Bruxelles, Strassbourg and Venice. I refer most of all to to those silent professionals, who practice their job without inclining before the politicians. Our hope lies in them, because they have made the step ahead, denouncing the deficiencies of the system, even after the adoption of the emergency decree 7. Thanks to them there were modifications of emergency decree 7 through emergency decree 12. Also, some members of the Supreme Council of Magistrature were proposed for revocation, because they hadn’t represented honestly their colleagues magistrates in the conflict with politicians.

You are part of an elite, which had a vision for Romania’s modernisation, for the opening of Romanian politics towards new players and new social interests, for the replacement fo the corrupt elites of the transition with cleaner minds and heads, for a country, where the relation between citizens and institutions is mature, democratic. For people like you probably “the reforms” in justice represent a destruction of what was constructed in the previous years. But how would “a contemporary” modernization vision for Romania look like, if it has to take into account what happened in the last years, the realities of Romania beyond the big cities and the current internal and external balances with regard to justice? Who could fight for this vision, if the supporters of anti-corruption want a simple return to “the golden era” of anti-corruption before 2017?

“The golden era” of anti-corruption before 2017 was falsificated. I don’t want us to return there. I don’t want to see the princess, which owes its transformation to a magic shoe. I don’t want a justice, which would seem to be independent, while it is held in the chain of the services of information. I want a justice, which would be professional indeed, but I know that for this ends there is a need of independence, adequate resources and laws, written by thinking people. Yes, what happened in the last two years is fearsome, but it could have been expected. I didn’t realise that in time, and I couldn’t warn about the danger, but now I understand that it was natural for the things to go in this direction.  

Of course, a success story is much more interesting when the obstacles are greater. In other words, the tests through which justice goes in the last two years could make the story much more appealing and interesting than if the reforms had succeeded in silence. But it seems really important that the people in justice have searched for and have found the resources to oppose the wrong direction. Now remains only for them to find the right direction. I believe that the right direction is set by the five points, which we have earlier discussed, by a pact, which would lead to the realisation of three simple objectives:

  • politicians have to renounce on attempting to subordinate politically justice;
  • magistrates have to respect their status, their integrity and honour;
  • citizens have to recover their trust in state, law and institutions.

I know that it is not easy what I say here. But this is an absolutely natural aspiration of every man of good faith. We should have done that 30 years ago, or at least 20 years ago. We are now before a maturity exam for the whole Romanian society, in which we understand that a lot of Romanians have chosen to go abroad, because it was too expensive for them to respect the law. We need to reset the society on a normal way, in which the most advantageous thing would be to respect the law and the rules of loyal competition, instead of bowing before the thieves, which would hold us in state of obedience as long as they have the power.

Yes, I participated in the electoral reform in 2015, hoping that new political actors would bring a new spirit to the political scene. But my expectations haven’t been confirmed yet, because the new parties and new people in Romanian politics still haven’t managed to articulate a vision about how success should like – not only in justice, but also in the entire society. For sure, new political actors are important, because they have fighted in order not to permit the slipping of Romania towards authoritarianism. But they haven’t convinced me yet that they know what should be done. They haven’t proposed a sufficiently attractive political offer yet. Probably they need more time, but I fear that they don’t have the necessary clarity in order to manage to convince in the electoral campaigns, which follow. I fear that they will continue to consume the resources, energy, time and nerves, in order to fight against those, who want “the old” to win. But I think that it is necessary to channel their resources towards giving birth the new. They will thus save us – the citizens of good faith, the energy, the resources and the nerves.

Fortunately, as I said earlier, I think that within the judicial system there is a nucleus of professionals, capable to define the vision for the future state of law in Romania. If those ”people of justice” (as I would like to call them) receive the support of a part of the civil society and by a part of the new political actors, I am convinced that the most interesting part of the (r)evolution will begin. I hope that these ”people of justice” will also find the efficient mechanism through which the judicial system to report before the citizens, just as we hold to account the mayors, the local councillors, the ministers, the members of parliament and the president of the republic.

The candidature of Laura Codruţa Kövesi (LCK) for chief European prosecutor provokes contrarian sentiments in Romania. Some consider her a kind of saint or martyr of anti-corruption, while others refer to her as a demonic force of arbitrarian repression. After the anti-corruption in Romania was reduced to the person of LCK and after the Romanian state gave through public affirmations and emergency decrees its verdict upon what DNA did in the last years, it looks like there is now a new conflict between supporters and opponents of LCK on European level. Isn’t this new fight with regard to LCK a fight for new evaluation of anti-corruption – as if after LCK last the home match, she could be win with goals in the away match, which is played abroad? In this context what role do you expect to be played by the European prosecution in Romania (and in general in the Eastern part of the EU), after it becomes operational in 2020-2021? While some look at this prosecution, hoping that it will oppose the national dubious lobbies, others are indignated that the anti-corruption of the type of LCK is a form of auto-colonisation…

The comparison with football is very good one, especially the idea for goals, scored abroad. This reminds me of the Romanian football team Unirea Urziceni (Urziceni is a small town with less than 15 000 people population, which is located to the east of Bucharest – note of the translator), which I watched in  the times of its peak performance between 2007-2010. It participated in the UEFA Cup and The Champions League. But the club was dissolved in 2011. This is the danger now too, because we don’t know which was the engine of success for DNA, while Mrs. Kövesi run the institution. Just the same happened with Dan Petrescu – the coach of Unirea Urziceni, who has had no noticeable success after 2012.

In other words, I don’t find any concrete indicator, which could explain without taking sides and without any doubt the career of Mrs. Kövesi. I don’t find such an indicator neither in the period, in which she was general prosecutor of Romania (2006-2012), nor in the times when she was the chief prosecutor of DNA (2013-2018). I don’t find also the motivation for her dismissal by the minister of justice (with the participation of the Constitutional Court) in 2018. Objectively, we don’t know yet whether the period, which she conducted DNA could be qualified as an irrefutable success or only as a blessing for a series of abuses (including those related to the secret protocols with the SRI).

We only know that, subjectively, Mrs. Kövesi seemed to satisfy the hunger for justice in the Romanian society as she punished the corrupt politicians. That is why the society seems to give her a blanque cheque, a trust without limits, and even to forgive some deficiencies, such as the plagiarising of her doctorate thesis, the unprincipled relation with the intelligence services, the failure of some cases of great importance, the communication strategy with double standards in the cases of politicians and the lack of meaningful explanations about some activities of her subordinates (Codru Vrabie means various aspects of DNA’s communication – the fact that it accentuates mediaticly arrests, but doesn’t give such an abundant information about the pace of cases in court or about the sentences, except when it wants to appeal a sentence; the specialised prosecution had the practice to give information to chosen journalists and to provoke a series of mutual verbal attacks with accused politicians – note of the translator).

Therefore, even though the person of Mrs. Kövesi is central to the current dispute and scandal, it is no longer relevant. The scandal takes place through her head around principles, which some people believe that she embodies. Kövesi’s ”essence” is derived in fact from the perceptions of the public actors on the state of law. Politicians in government (the anti-Kövesi camp) put the accent upon the democratic majority in elections, and, partially, to the supremacy of law. But supremacy of law matters to them only as long as they suffer from human rights abuses and the separation of powers in the state. The abuses on human rights and separation of state powers, which were accomplished by the people’s advocate and the Constitutional Court, cannot counterbalance the abuses, which DNA accomplished. The politicians in opposition (the camp pro-Kövesi) put the accent above all on the supremacy of law (the way it was perverted in the times of the protocols) and on the separation of power. But oppositional politicians stumble, when they face possible abuses against the human rights (in the case of politicians, who have been investigated selectively).

That is why I sad from the beginning of this interview that there is a lack of acceptance of the realities. Both camps are blocked in their own rhetoric. It is very periculous to keep this form of talibanization of public space, because it combines in an unfortunate way with populism, with disinformation, with mythologisation of some public persons. The result from these combinations can never be positive. We see that in  the authoritarian tendencies in Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Austria, even in the United States – or when we see the general confusion in Great Britain.

If we manage to avoid those tendencies, we can observe that the appointment of the European prosecutor for protection of the financial interests of the EU is not something exceptional. The process of codecision making between the Parliament and the Council goes ahead without problems, after the European experts in the matter have discussed the shortlist of three candidates. To a certain extent it is understandable that the EU would like a prosecutor from the Eastern Europe, because it will thus illustrate that the process of integration of the new member states is on the good road. Equally, I believe that the decision makers in Bruxelles are conscious that there is a danger of vulnerability of the institution of European prosecution from its very start. We are talking about a decision on its chief, which will be taken before the electorate, a decision for which the decision makers will be held to account.

Things will continue as they have been in Romania after the decision is taken, indifferently whether Kövesi will get the position or not. The scandal has its electoral logic, which is connected first of all to the presidential elections of November 2019. In function of what decision will be taken, the electoral logic could be extended to the May 2019 European elections or to the local and parliamentary elections in 2020. It is clear that the European prosecution will have a lot of work in Romania, especially from the perspective of the accusation for stealing of European funds or even for non-absorption of these funds.

We will see what the next year will bring. In fact, together with the team of telegraful.net, we start this spring a new series of podcasts, dedicated to the elections of 2019. We will work especially to the benefit of those who are born in the years 2000±2, because the will have the occasion to vote now for the first time in their life. We will have two approaches with regard to those podcasts on elections: the first will be to gather the informational needs of the university and high school students – we will move among them and will find out what interests them; the other is that we will answer questions with the help of some special guests (professors of law and political science, civic activists, probably even former members of the European Parliament and current candidates).

Recently, you have been making a lot of trainings, including in Republic of Moldova. How does the fight in the sphere of justice in Romania look, when it is seen from Chişinău? In the good times of the anti-corruption Romanian experts used to boast that DNA could be considered an export model in the region, because there were Moldovans and Bulgarians who wanted it. Didn’t it happen the opposite way – with Romania importing inspiration from the region in the opposite sense, so that it could strengthen the political influence in justice?

This is the third consecutive year, in which together with the colleagues from the programme LEAD, we instruct young jurists in Moldova. The programme is concentrated on the abilities and knowledge for leadership. It is similar to the programme Leaders for Justice, which is applied in Romania and has reached its tenth edition. Within the justice system in Moldova there are “people of justice”, which understand very well that it is better to eliminate the causes for a certain problem, instead of applying make-up on its effect. From this standing point, I am happy to find that from the very beginning the people who work in justice were seeing also the deficiencies of the Romanian model of DNA. Probably it was easier for them to do that, than for their Bulgarian colleagues, because Moldova has its National Centre Anti-Corruption (CNA), which has proposed to replicate the experience of DNA, but doesn’t have all the necessary leverages. This lack of copying is natural in a certain sense, because the legal systems and the way the state is organised differ between Romania and Moldova.

But if we look at politicians, things will probably stand otherwise. There also politicians there who pervert laws and institutions – because it is comfortable, because of populism, because of having no knowledge of books or because of thievery. DNA could be a good model only if it matches and suits the architecture of the other institutions, but there is an obstacle here: the status of prosecutors in Romania is much more different that those of the prosecutors in Moldova or in Bulgaria. So it is difficult to make “transplantation”.

There must be also another fulfilled condition, which neither Romania was able to respect completely: a specialised anti-corruption prosecution has meaning only if there are also applied measures for prevention of corruption in each public institution and if there are means of administrative control, through which we could verify if the prevention measures are correctly applied. The administrative capacity of Moldova is inferior to the one in Bulgaria, which means that such a model will be more difficult to apply.  

I return to politicians, because somebody could claim that Romania has been inspired by the negative models of our neighbours. This would mean that Romanian politicians have had, somehow, good intentions, but have perverted them over the time, wouldn’t it? Well, I don’t believe in such a scenario. As I have explained at the beginning of the interview, it is not clear whether Romanian politicians have had good intentions all the time. I don’t say that they are all the time villains, neither. But I say that they don’t need to get inspiration from the neighbour. Our politicians – Romanians, Moldovans, Bulgarians, are not so different, as we would like us to think. If they can mobilise voters only through words, without consumption of resources, time, energy, they will do it! Unfortunately, they are just as cynical, as they are populists.

The fact that your expertise is searched for in the Republic of Moldova makes me ask you something about the modernisation vision for the countries in our region. What will be its future in our region, when it is no longer practiced from the position of domination or hegemony of “the liberal values”? For years this modernisation vision together with anti-corruption were a very powerful current in Romania. But hasn’t this also provoked an even stronger resistance to modernisation in Romanian society? Where is it more difficult to accomplish social modernisation – in Romania, which is already a part of the EU, but where people are tired and don’t have the sense of a direction to follow in social progress – or in countries, such as The Republic of Moldova or The Republic of Northern Macedonia, where the EU is seen from the outside and could mobilise the society around certain efforts?

My expertise is not exactly “searched for” in The Republic of Moldova. I have simply proposed a project together with a courageous team. I have shown how a similar project in Romania has given results. A financing entity believed in the success of our project. And we are happy to be able to use Romanian language in Moldova too, so that we could make the transfer of knowledge easier.

However, the question I think puts a great emphasis on anti-corruption. As my friends Sorin Cucerai and Barbu Mateescu show in plenty of their publicly taken positions, the issue first of all is modernisation. I refer to the replacement of the networks for support of each person – from networks, based on personal loyalties towards a group or a clan, towards universal networks, based on the supremacy of law. The passing from friendship and adversity, based on the answer to the question “Whose man are you?” towards equal treatment, without discrimination, without privileges, based on law and on recognition of the status of citizen.

Yes, it is possible to name those aspirations “liberal values”, in the sense that as far as I see, historically, the countries, which have adopted those values, have become “liberal democracies”, in which the supremacy of law, the separation of powers, the human rights and the democratic majority, formed through elections are respected as sacred. However, the key lies in the dose of those elements and in the reciprocal support, which all those notions offer to one another. For example, the majority cannot violate the rights, even through law.

The idea is that we don’t know another model of development and prosperity, apart from this one. But the process of transformation is slow. Some people do not agree to wait in the queue wit the rest. Those who have no longer patience, find authoritarian or illiberal models, which could help them develop and prosper faster. In other words, they live with the illusion that a form of democracy is possible, where some are more equal than others. Well, the whole history of mankind shows us thus this is impossible. Either through corruption, or through perversion of laws and institutions, these illusions fail, because they lead to imbalances of development, to lack of equality and of solidarity.

The accumulated tensions in the state of imbalance lead to outbreak of indignation. After that we start again from zero, complaining about the waster time. I prefer to win this time, correcting the mistakes over time, in movement, if possible. That is how we could make a breakthrough in the whole of our region. I have just realised that we need a quasi-religious faith in these principles, in the rule of law. It should be easy for us to do that, if we see how few atheists and agnostics live in our countries on the Balkans. Shouldn’t it?

Read in Romanian language!

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Author: Vladimir Mitev

Жител на град Русе. Румъноговорящ. Locuitor orașului Ruse. Vorbitor de limba română.

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