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HOW CAN THE PRESIDENT APPROVE THE DEFENSE MINISTER WITHOUT LOSING FACE?

19 january, 2017
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One of the first decrees of the president Igor Dodon was the resignation of Defense Minister Anatoly Salaru, known for his statements about the relations of Moldova with NATO. On the long pause in the appointment of a new minister, for INFOTAG, commented Dr. of Law Pavel Midrigan.

"I.": Is it possible under the laws of the Republic of Moldova to approve a Minister without the consent of the president?

P. M.: In a time when the government does not come entirely as, say, after the parliamentary elections, the official replacement is done by a presidential decree on the proposal of the prime minister. He proposes, and the president – approves. Now there is a question: "Can the president reject the candidature, disagreeing with the prime minister?". And here it is necessary to comply with the procedure strictly.

A similar situation in the Republic of Moldova can be traced to the activities of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (SCJ) in the appointment of judges. SCJ proposes a candidate for the position of judge and the president can reject it only once. But in the case of the replacement of ministers, we are talking about the formation of the team managers, which the president just approves. Therefore, we cannot say that it is in the powers of the president. It does not happen according to the formula: "he approves who he wants". Power in the Republic of Moldova is formed as a result of the parliamentary elections, there is a ruling coalition with its internal arrangements, according to which are put forward on the positions certain candidates; the positions can be very different - from ministers and below. The parliamentary majority forms the executive branch and the president of the Republic of Moldova is not the decisive role.

"I.": And what conclusion can be drawn from this?

P.M.: The conclusion that soon will appear the interpretation of the CC on president's actions. I would venture to suggest that the explanation of the court will sound something like this: "The president may once reject the candidature of the Minister, but the second time he has to approve the person proposed by the prime minister".

"I.": How long can the ministry be without its first-person? Such a conflict in the Moldovan law is stipulated?

P.M.: There are no such clarifications. Let’s recall that in Moldova for nine months after the departure of Attorney General Corneliu Gurin was no one, only an acting replacement. The Supreme Court of Justice over the years remained without a chairman, because they could not manage the candidates for the post and decide who is "worthy". Let me remind you that the National Centre for the Fight against Corruption for a time did not have a leader either. For Moldova, unfortunately, this phenomenon is typical. There are deputies - they cope with the management. It is hardly necessary to stipulate in the law the terms. Formation of the structure of power takes place in fractions of parliament and the Ministry acts on internal regulations. And the absence of the minister does not mean impossibility to carry out tasks.

"I.": How important is for the leader of the Liberal Party the defense minister position? What are the objectives he pursues?

P.M.: The subject of redistribution of posts in the ministries is not negotiable. So the leader of the Liberal Party Mihai Ghimpu will get what he wants. Why does he push the current ecology minister Valeriu Munteanu? This is a figure - an inveterate unionist, and for parliamentary elections in 2018 the slogan of rapprochement with NATO for the LP is the only trump card in the electoral confrontation.

I would say that Munteanu is Ghimpu’s Joker in the upcoming battles for seats in parliament. After all, the theme of European integration has lost interest. Europeans themselves tell politicians: "Guys, enough bubbling. New EU members for the next 15-20 years will not be!". Thus, votes for the liberals can only bring the slogan "Moldova needs NATO!". Moreover, in this regard, there is support from Bucharest, Romania after all is the block member. So they will play the "chip".

Ghimpu today has a very short bench. If suddenly Munteanu is declined, he has no more sane candidates. And to Munteanu should pay tribute. He can talk and talk, and the Ministry for the Environment is too small for him. In this context, Ghimpu really wants to promote him, and is looking forward to the decision of the CC. Moreover, such a decision that says the president cannot reject the proposed candidacy. Ghimpu wants approval from the first time - without misfires. And if that does not happen, but Munteanu’s second proposal is not possible, Ghimpu gets in a sticky situation. Other contenders as the defense ministers he does not have.

"I.": What could be the position of the main party in the ruling coalition - the Democratic Party?

P.M.: DPM in its declarations has never professed its love for NATO. It is not excluded that the CC would say: "The president may reject the candidature of the Minister only once, but the second time another person should be proposed". Such an outcome is not favorable for Ghimpu, but it will be on hand for the DPM.

"I.": What can Ghimpu do in such desperate situation?

P.M.: He can threaten to leave the coalition, and now no one needs this. The collapse of the ruling majority – it is a straight road to early elections. And so now no one needs it in the coalition. Therefore, every time he goes to such blackmail, when liberals need something. The latest example - the story of the change in the powers of the Municipal Council of Chisinau and transfer of powers to Ghimpu's nephew - Chisinau general mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, first deputy chairman of the Liberal Party. The coalition does not want to split, therefore it will please Ghimpu.

"I.": Could the parliament begin the process of impeachment of president Dodon because of his rejection of ministerial post candidates?

P.M.: There is already an established rule that the Minister for the second time the president must approve (another thing is that there should be another person for the second time). But Dodon today is too weak to start full-scale war with the executive power and parliament. He had not yet strengthened, and does not need to start a confrontation. On the other hand, it is clearly stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova that impeachment can be declared after the establishment of a special parliamentary committee of fact of "willful and flagrant violation of the Constitution by the president". In the presence of the interpretation of the CC of ministerial appointment, he cannot be imputed with "willful and flagrant violation of the law". For now, the question is hanging in the air; Dodon may well say: "What have I violated? The Constitution says that the president approves the candidacy of the Minister, proposed by the prime minister". And he will be right.

Here is an example for clarity. After presenting the prime minister Pavel Filip, the president Nicolae Timofti refused to remove the Minister Salaru. Does this mean that Timofti violated the Constitution? Until now, the rejection by the president of a candidate for the ministers no one believed in Moldova as being against the law. That is why it is impossible to present something like this for the impeachment of Dodon.

But there is another field. How many times the president can reject: "Two, three, or more?". A similar situation with the Prime Minister was allowed. The CC then explained that since the appointment of the prime minister happens with the approval of the majority of members of parliament, his candidacy has to be approved by the president. The Prime Minister – he is a political figure. In the matter of the Ministers of the parties of the ruling majority, there is a legislative vacuum. So now we will have the interpretation of the CC.

"I.": If the new defense minister follows the path of his predecessor, will begin declaring the orientation of Moldova into NATO, will Dodon be able to send him to resign because he is against the membership of the Republic of Moldova in a military unit?!

P.M.: Easy. The president should recall that the Constitution stipulates that the Republic of Moldova is a neutral country. In addition, statements about the development vector of Moldova can make the speaker of the parliament and the prime minister. And the defense minister should work to ensure military discipline and order in the army. If he enters the path of political statements, he has a straight road to retirement.

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