Sorin Mereacre is the President of East Europe Foundation and the Country Director of Eurasia Foundation in Moldova. With extensive experience in working with various international donors and institutions, he is one of the leading experts of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and a member of the Civil Society Donor’s Group in Moldova. Between February 2010 and March 2012 he chaired the National Participation Council and participated in the Cabinet of Ministers’ meetings, providing feedback from the NPC members to the government. Sorin holds a Ph.D. in international private law from Bucharest State University and B.A. in Law from the State University of Moldova.
1. What is for you the added value of European organisations supporting other countries in their democratisation processes? What role can they play?
The European Partnership for Democracy proved to be an invaluable partner for the success of our important projects in Moldova. Our exposure to the experiences and democratization processes of other countries, whether EU Member States, Central Asian Republics or Africa states was a steep learning curve for us. I believe that it is incredibly beneficial for Moldovan Civil Society Organisations to be exposed to these experiences and to be in a position to compare with our own processes. In the same spirit, EPD facilitated these links between the EU institutions and local actors on the ground.
Hence, I believe that the added value of working with European organisations is precisely the core mission of EPD, the facilitation of interaction through the Community of Practice. With the Association Agreement now signed, many more opportunities and needs will arise for the government and civil society to benefit from EU funds and practices.
“By exposing us to EU processes and to other countries’ democratisation experiences, EPD has helped us lay down the foundations for closer integration between Moldova and the EU. We have big plans for the future and EPD’s Community of Practice is crucial in helping Moldova’s civil society and government design good policies.”
Furthermore, as well as strengthening the dialogue between the government and civil society, we should also enhance the latter’s capacity to bring new ideas and proposals to the fore. EPD, with its network of experts, knowledge sharing and accumulated expertise could prove to be very helpful in this respect, by also providing the necessary training for Moldovan NGOs to develop good proposals that are designed according to the EU’s logic and language.
2. Can you give us a practical example of how the foundation has used the EU backing to help facilitate the democratic transition in Moldova?
The EEF has been active in Moldova for more than 20 years already and we have supported several important initiatives that united many NGOs around several key reforms; such as the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, the National Participation Council and the Anti-corruption Alliance. Yet, there is need to constantly ensure the necessary exposure of these coalitions to the practices of the EU.
Half way through the INSPIRED project, and once the EU-Moldova Association Agreement negotiations were underway, we felt that much more support was needed from the EU partners to convince some of the opposition parties in Moldova’s parliament to embrace the idea of EU integration.
The INSPIRED-organised visit of Mr Kwaśniewski, Tadic and Meidani, former Presidents of Poland, Serbia and Albania respectively, in the spring of 2014, was crucial in achieving this. Through a series of meetings with civil society, government, media and students, the former presidents successfully stressed how European integration is the only way forward for Moldova. This was one of the most important achievements of the INSPIRED project in Moldova. EPD’s support was multidimensional and also provided technical assistance as well as guidance on how to ensure an efficient dialogue with the EU delegation.
To read more about the INSPIRED project, please click here.