New Moldova P.M. Leanca says country remains on pro-EU course

June 18, 2013 at 12:02 AM
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CHISINAU, Moldova, June 18 (UPI) -- Moldova's new prime minister says recent political upheaval and corruption concerns in the former Soviet state won't hinder its pro-European Union course.

Iurie Leanca, who was named prime minster of a new government coalition May 30 following the fall of the previous government of Vlad Filat, said Saturday after his first round of meetings with EU officials Brussels is determined to keep Moldova on a pro-European course.

Leanca said the EU still strongly supports Chisinau's integration into Europe despite its recent history of political instability and widespread concerns about a lack of checks and balances in its state institutions, the Romanian news agency Agerpres reported.

There is "hope that we will achieve the European agenda, which will have direct impact on the development of the country," he said. "Our European partners will help us deliver results on judicial and prosecution reforms and in fighting corruption."

After spending last week meeting with EU leaders such as European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, as well as NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Leanca said Brussels remains committed to achieving closer economic ties with Chisinau.

He told Agerpres the goal for Moldova is to sign and bring into force an "association agreement" and free-trade regime with the EU before the end of the current European Commission in 2014.

Another goal, he said, is to achieve visa liberalization for Moldova along with Ukraine and Georgia at the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in November in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Leanca, a veteran politician of the Liberal Democratic party, was tapped as prime minister of a new "pro-European coalition" following the March collapse of fellow Liberal Democrat Filat's government.

Filat was banned from serving as premier by Moldova's Constitutional Court following months of accusations of corruption between his bloc and former coalition partner the Democratic Party, led by controversial oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc.

The corruption accusations led to an escalating series of raids carried out by competing law enforcement organs, including prosecutors and police officials loyal to Plahotniuc, who has been linked to manipulative shareholder activities surrounding the country's largest bank, Business New Europe reported.

Fule told Leanca Thursday in Brussels that reform of the prosecutors office and the country's judiciary is a must for Moldova to confront if it is to continue on a pro-European path.

"While welcoming the end of the recent political crisis in Chisinau, I underlined the importance of drawing the lessons from it, and to focus on the needs of the citizens," Fule said. "As a friend, I have been very open in expressing my strong expectation that the new coalition will work hard genuinely tackling the issues raised by the political crisis."

The EU integration chief said Chisinau must develop a "robust system of checks and balances" to prevent state institutions from taking partisan sides in periods of political tensions and that corruption "needs to be tackled in earnest and at all levels."

Fule, without specifically naming Plahotniuc's Democratic Party, also called on "the opposition to play ball with the government in governing the country," and stressed the need for a "pluralistic and diversified" media in the country.

Part of Plahotniuc's holdings is Prime TV, which reportedly as a 37 percent share of the Moldovan media market.

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