2019 Main Topics. What Awaits Moldova, Ukraine and More

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RTA editorial team Regional Trends Analytics is a team of like-minded people. For many years, portal experts have been studying politics in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and Europe. In June, we launched our website, where we share some estimates and forecasts. On the eve of the New Year holidays, we decided to identify some trends and topics that in 2019 will dominate the politics of Moldova, Ukraine and other countries. Real life is always more complicated and more interesting than forecasts, especially taking into account the specifics of the regional space we are studying. Our team will continue to observe and analyze, fix patterns, offer our versions and promising scenarios. Without a doubt, in the coming year we will see many interesting discoveries and political surprises. For anyone who cares about what today will be and what to expect tomorrow, it is important to have a clear and three-dimensional idea of what is actually happening. Taking a small New Year’s holiday break, we say thank you to everyone who has been with us!

Parliamentary elections in Moldova

On February 24, parliamentary elections will be held in Moldova. Voting will be held on a mixed system – some deputies will be elected by party lists, another part – in single-mandate constituencies. Our experts discussed power dynamics in Moldovan politics in the article “Moldova: War of All Against All.” The author believes that the Moldovan political life is a field of endless battle for survival, and in the heat of battle, the militants often forget about the main thing, that is, about the interests of the people. Some Moldovans fear that the country will not endure such a disorder and “simply fall apart.” Besides, on February 24, a referendum proposed by the Democratic Party of Vlad Plahotniuc will be held across the country. The question of reducing the parliament from 101 to 61 deputies, as well as the possibility of recalling deputies already elected, will be put to the referendum. Our authors believe that the Democratic Party will use the results of the referendum to get rid of competitors and the ballast of needless allies. The favorite of the election race is considered to be the Party of Socialists of Moldova. Russia places high hopes in the victory of the PSRM. After another meeting of Igor Dodon with Vladimir Putin, Russia announced an amnesty for labor migrants from Moldova: they can avoid fines and deportations if they leave the country before February 24, that is, if they come to vote in parliamentary elections. Undoubtedly, this step is intended to support the PSRM in the elections, but RTA experts believe that there are risks in this decision. In addition, some of our analysts do not rule out that Moscow could completely lose Moldova in 2019. Parliamentary elections on February 24 is just the beginning. Many predict early parliamentary elections in 2019, while other experts promise Moldova five election campaigns in the New Year.

Presidential elections in Ukraine

On March 31, there will be the presidential elections in Ukraine. The election campaign promises to be hot: there were assumptions that Petro Poroshenko initially wanted to impose an indefinite martial law in order to ‘cancel’ the elections. As a result, Kyiv limited it to a period of one month – all this time, the martial law regime operated in the regions bordering Russia, as well as in areas bordering unrecognized Transdniestria. Experts believe Petro Poroshenko is an outsider in the election race and argue that the European Union and the United States would like to ‘discharge’ the unpopular politician. Brussels’ and Washington’s serious dissatisfaction with the policies of Kyiv may be directly and indirectly traced looking at difficulties with macro-financial assistance that Ukraine had in the outgoing year. However, the current government does not plan to surrender without a fight and comes up with new tactics. One of them is the autonomization of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and granting of autocephaly to Kyiv. So far this process is going on successfully: obviously, Poroshenko is trying to enlist the support of influential near-church circles in the future struggle for power. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in Ukraine, there is a strong feeling that the situation will not change drastically. It remains an open question whether Ukraine will be able to break the vicious circle of political and economic crises.

Europe-Moldova relations

In the past year, only the lazy in Brussels did not criticize Moldova. RTA experts are confident that the European Union is waiting for new people to come to power in Moldova. Many say that the ‘European spring’ for Moldova is already overdue – this is confirmed by the serious concern of the ruling Democratic Party, which is increasingly unsuccessfully ‘flirting’ with Brussels. At the same time, not finding support in Europe, Plahotniuc is looking for it across the ocean – and so far he finds it, apparently. Partners in Washington appreciate Chisinau’s efforts to combat Russian influence, and the ruling regime is good at it. It is no coincidence that even the program “Good roads for Moldova”, of which Filip’s government is so proud, coincides with NATO’s plans to reconstruct roads in Eastern Europe for the transfer of troops and equipment. Despite the military-political value of Moldova, the European Union seems to have presented the Moldovan authorities with a black spot. The outrageous political and judicial life of the country casts a shadow on Europe, which has invested a lot of effort and finance in Moldova in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. European officials insist on democratic elections in 2019 and hint at the complete cessation of macro-financial assistance, which was suspended this year. Everything is getting so that Chisinau may not wait long enough to see the European money – this will be a fatal blow to the chronically ill economy of the country.

Transdniestrian settlement

In the outgoing year, the situation around Transdniestria has developed in a bizarre manner – in the past the parties could not make such a noticeable progress in the negotiations, at least in the past 15 years. Negotiators from Chisinau and Tiraspol managed to agree on neutral number plates for passenger cars of the unrecognized republic. This mechanism works from September, which has caused serious enthusiasm among the international participants in the Transdniestrian settlement. Former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, OSCE Special Representative in 2018, made half hints at the “strong desire” of Chisinau and Tiraspol for a political settlement. Experts suggest that Brussels, Berlin and Moscow are already bargaining over the future settlement format. The RTA authors drew attention to the landmark trip of Vladimir Putin to a meeting with Angela Merkel in Meseberg – to the place where in 2010 the model of the Transdniestrian settlement was already discussed. It is assumed that the solution of the multi-year frozen conflict centers around “delimitation” – a principle that is already applied in Kosovo and Serbia. Recently, political declarations have been louder and louder on a certain settlement plan for the Transdniestrian conflict. However, it is clear that these are only ‘trial’ statements, which arose largely due to the Moldovan parliamentary elections. But if such a plan actually arises, it will definitely be the result of the synergy of efforts by a quite significant circle of participants, including the world’s leading actors. Previously, experts talked about the confederative plan of Igor Dodon, which was voiced in Washington. Anyway, as early as next year, Tiraspol and Chisinau may well surprise world politics with new achievements in the negotiations.