The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova meets in… Edinet
1 December 2015. Farmers from Northern Moldova joined the meeting of the Parliament’s Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food Industry.
- Four Territorial Information Offices of the Parliament (TIOPs) were established in Moldova – in Edinet, Leova, Comrat and Orhei.
- The pilot project was launched in 2014 and will last till the summer of 2015, with the possibility of expanding it to other localities starting with July 2016.
The Chairperson of Edinet district Iurie Garas confesses that he was very nervous before this meeting, considering the background of general discontent of the farmers who work in a branch of economy vulnerable to climate change: “The mood was totally different, though. I realized that dialogue between people and decision makers does indeed help to identify solutions for our outstanding problems.”
The meeting in Edinet was organized by the Territorial Information Office of the Parliament (TIOP).
TIOPs – communication chain between people and MPs
The Territorial Information Offices of the Parliament (TIOPs) are an extraordinary instrument, notes the Chair of the Parliament’s Standing Committee for Agriculture and Food Industry Radu Mudreac. “We will use this opportunity more often, we have scheduled Committee’s visits to Comrat and Leova, with the help of the TIOPs. It is of utmost importance that we get firsthand information about people’s needs, and the fact that all logistics are in place here, at the TIOP, which helps us being closer to our voters and helps us being more efficient in our work,” the MP says.
MP Oleg Sirbu said he was happy with the atmosphere in the meeting. “We heard what farmers want. Such meetings unite us and this is the most important,” says the Deputy who is himself from Edinet and is one of the most faithful visitors of Edinet TIOP.
To date, Edinet TIOP which covers eleven districts in the north of the country, has two employees. The Head of Office is proud of the possibilities provided with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) within “Improving the Quality of Moldovan Democracy through Parliamentary and Electoral Support" project, financed by Sweden.
Edinet TIOP organizes various meetings of MPs with voters, facilitates submission of petitions from people in this region to the central authorities, informs the youth and socially vulnerable people how to make themselves heard by the government and, on demand, helps high school students visit the Parliament.
The Office has also organized several meetings with poor women and with women with special needs. During one of them the authorities were informed by the participants that renovation works at local civil registration office included building of impassable ramp for wheelchair access. Stela Bitei, Head of Office, contacted the authorities and convinced them to reconstruct the wheelchair access ramp.
All TIOPs in the country have been equipped with computers, which can also be used by visitors to access the web-page of the Parliament, write petitions and demand meetings with MPs. Also, with the support of UNDP, equipment was provided to arrange video conference calls with MPs.
“One can feel a deficit of communication with the top officials”
“One can feel a deficit of communication with the top officials; TIOPs are some sort of an intermediary between people, local authorities and the Parliament. This is important, even though maybe these visits are not as often as one would want,” Edinet district Chair Iurie Garas says.
Stela Bitei is confident about the future. “We are at the very beginning, certain apathy among people exists, they do not believe that something like this is possible. We insist that it is possible, we inform them, we work with people from rural areas, with socially vulnerable people, with women and youth so that they see that they can make themselves heard, they can make proposals and can resolve problems, and we slowly win their trust. Exactly same thing is happening with respect to MPs; they also need time to understand that it is not politics what we do, we are here to support them and to facilitate their dialogue with the people.”
Apathy can be overcome, communication is the means
The Territorial Information Offices of the Parliament, beyond their declared objective of information and facilitation of communication between population and MPs, also promotes participative democracy by contributing to participation in decision making. This is extremely important as polls show high figures on apathy towards announced reforms. Also, engaging people in debates on legislative changes increases trust in state institutions.
All TIOP employees have been trained by relevant experts with the support of UNDP, within the project “Improving the Quality of Moldovan Democracy through Parliamentary and Electoral Support". They learned about best practices of functioning of such offices in Canada, UK and Sweden. The training courses also included debates on the legal framework related to TIOPs, codes of conduct of civil servants and how to engage vulnerable groups in TIOP’s activities.