Farewell to Illusions! Why Pavel Filipp confirmed that Moldova’s neutrality is in the past

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The main recent event of the Moldovan political life was the visit of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was invited to Moldova many times, and this visit was awaited a long time. Local media described in detail who Erdogan met, how he felt bored and what he said. The meeting of Prime Minister Pavel Filip with the head of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Rasa Juknevičienė could have been lost against this background, but the prime minister did not let it happen and said that official Chisinau is thinking of rapprochement with NATO. “Neutrality of Moldova according to the Constitutiondoes not mean that we want to be isolated. We want to work very closely with NATO, we want to learn, to teach our military. Neutrality is imposed on us because of the forces that, unfortunately, have not yet left the territory of Moldova, despite the numerous appeals of our country and the international community,” he said at the meeting. Many people could consider the words of Philip as a recognition of the obvious fact, the secret de Polichinelle and generally unremarkable event. Moldova has really cooperated with NATO for a long time, has a military treaty with Romania as a member of the Alliance. Moreover, the day before Philip and Erdogan signed an agreement on cooperation. Turkey, if you forgot, is also a NATO member. Simply put, the love story between Moldova and the North Atlantic Alliance has been lasting for many years, though the Republic of Moldova, formally, still remains outside the blocks and keeps neutrality. Pavel Philip has declared nothing new, but the context is of fundamental importance. While the Moldovan prime minister met with the head of the UN PA, the Turkish president, accompanied by Igor Dodon, visited Gagauzia, and the parliament voted on the issue of changing the constitution. At the beginning of the year, the Democrats proposed a clause on the European integration of Moldova in the main law, but the vote did take place yesterday. As a result, the initiative of the Democratic Party of Moldova failed. Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu warned in advance that the Democratic Party would initiate a referendum on amending the constitution if the Parliament would not adopt their amendment. The Democratic Party of Moldova would like to hold a plebiscite on February 24, 2019–the day of parliamentary election. President Igor Dodon has already declared that he is not afraid of a referendum, which means that the socialists will actively join in campaigning against the European direction and will agree to hold a referendum on election day. The elections of 2019 will have the most geopolitical nature in the history of Moldova. It turns out that Pavel Phillip has already outlined with his statement the first contours of the future struggle between the “West and the East” and announced which side will be supported in this battle by the current government. Such statements will appear again and again – it is important for the government of Plahotniuc to conform to the image of the main ally of Brussels in the upcoming battle. Pavel Filip says bluntly, “We are for NATO and against Russia.” And it seems that we have already heard such utterance, but it has never been so “convex”, challenging and sobering at the same time. The Moldovan prime minister demonstratively negates all the scanty politesse of the past, all the concepts of permanent neutrality, including those written by President Igor Dodon. The Democratic Party of Moldova headed by Vlad Plahotniuc, as well as the entire oligarchic-feudal system of power that this party has built around itself, is facing the most serious threat in recent years. The Democrats' rating is so low that even a mixed system where single-mandate deputies can be corny snatched away does not guarantee them the maintenance of power. The worst thing is that the traditional Western partners are turning away from the Democratic Party of Moldova. In the face of a deadly political threat, the current government cancels out the conventions of the past and doeslikely anything to restore the trust and support of former friends in the high offices of Brussels and Washington. Hence, the new “dispelling” and public recognition that neutrality is in the past. The only problem is that Moldova’s refusal of neutrality is really an open secret, and even after the elections, when the loud rhetoric about the country's military and political status subsides, the fact remains. Farewell to the illusions should have happened and it has happened, and now it is an opportune moment for it.