Thomas Escritt: Moldova ready to lean toward the west. Financial Times. 14.09.2009.
14.09.2009 ,
 

A ruling by Moldova’s constitutional court on Thursday could clear the way for the former Soviet republic to form a western-leaning government after almost six months of political turmoil that began after contested elections in April failed to deliver a clear verdict.

The court must rule on whether Mihai Ghimpu, leader of the Liberal party and speaker of parliament, can serve as acting president while still presiding over the legislature. Vladimir Voronin, the communist who has served for eight years, stepped down on Friday, accusing neighbouring Romania, the European Union and the US of working to bring about his defeat.

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Global Insight: Miserable Moldovans want to have it both ways - Jul-30.Poll victory for Moldova opposition sours - Jul-30.Moldova faces fresh vote for direction - Jul-29.Opinion: China gains a foothold in Russia’s backyard - Jul-28.Moldova rulers turn up heat on business - May-29.Blow to authority of Moldova leader - Jun-04..If the court agrees, Mr Ghimpu, whose party is one of the four that make up the Alliance for European Integration that edged out the communists in repeat elections in August, could nominate a prime minister for the country of 3.4m people, which has been rudderless since the spring.

Mr Ghimpu is likely to nominate Vlad Filat, the businessman leader of the Liberal Democratic party, who plans to open immediate negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a loan to help Europe’s poorest country, whose €3bn state budget faces a €500m deficit this year.

Iurie Leancă, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democratic party, said relations with Moldova’s western neighbours would be the government’s first priority. ”We need IMF and EU support as well as aggressive diplomacy leading to real European integration,” he told the Financial Times.

The government’s first step would be to lift visa restrictions on visitors from Romania, which Mr Voronin introduced after April’s elections, accusing the country of fomenting the violence that followed. It would also seek to encourage foreign investment, which has only trickled into Moldova since the country achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Alliance has a four-seat majority over the communists in the country’s 101-member legislature, leaving them eight short of the 61 votes needed to appoint a permanent president. The parties now hope to tempt eight communist MPs to cross the floor in support of Marian Lupu, leader of the Democratic party, who was leader of the communist party’s reformist wing until he fell out with Mr Voronin three months ago.

For Moldova’s Russian-speaking minority, which might be alarmed by the country’s westward swing, Mr Leancă had conciliatory words. ”We need a strategy for integrating our minorities,” he said. ”But we should do this on the European model. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.”

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