Opinion: Moldova Is a Testing Ground for Political Experiments in Europe

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RTA author Sergey Isaenko draws parallels between another Dmitry Kozak’ visit to Moldova, the vote of the Moldovan delegation in PACE and the development of relations between Moscow and Washington. Sergey Isaenko, RTA: Several remarkable events at the beginning of this week have confirmed that Moldova has a special place in the regional and even global geopolitical mechanics in 2019. Two weeks after the ‘Cabinet revolution’ and the unexpected for many overthrow of the Plahotniuc regime, the interest in the processes in Moldovan politics remains. First of all, numerous ‘assault force’ of Russian officials headed by Deputy Prime Minister Kozak arrived in Chisinau. The latest after meetings with Maia Sandu and Igor Dodon confidently declared that the relations of Russia and Moldova are unfrozen. Apparently, Chisinau and Moscow launched negotiations on mutual trade and gas supplies after December 31, 2019. At the same time, Chisinau hosted meetings with the delegation of the European Parliament: Brussels is preparing the ground for the resumption of financial assistance to Moldova. The next day, the delegation of Dmitry Kozak went to Tiraspol to meet with the leadership of unrecognized Transdniestria, where they also discussed the economy. The website of the region’s leader Vadim Krasnoselsky wrote that the parties raised issues of trade and access of Transdniestrian exports to the Russian market. The day before Krasnoselsky met with US Ambassador Derek Hogan, and in the coming days another delegation from the United States will arrive in Moldova. It seems that Brussels, Washington and Moscow have not just joined efforts to overthrow Plahotniuc, but continue to jointly rebuild the local political system and financial flows. Strictly speaking, it becomes difficult to ignore obvious coincidences: for example, the way the Moldovan delegates in PACE voted for Russia’s return to the Assembly, while meetings with the European Parliament and Dmitry Kozak were held in Chisinau. Attending the PACE session Andrei Nastase, head of the Ministry of Interior of Moldova and the leader of the Dignity and Truth, and the head of fraction of socialists Vlad Batrîncea supported the return of Russia in PACE. That is, in fact, the ruling coalition of Moldova played along with the plans of both the EU and Russia, which after the Ukrainian crisis are unsuccessfully looking for ways of reconciliation. Apparently, Moldova is becoming a good occasion for the world players, a precedent and a pretext for restarting the trilateral relations. What else, if not the fight against the malicious criminal regime of the oligarch-tyrant in the poorest country in Europe, could pull together Brussels, Moscow and Washington with their tangle of mutual sanctions and resentment? It seems that the situation in Moldova enabled the three capitals to find common ground and a topic that interested all at once. In the end, Plahotniuc’s regime became a real and unpredictable problem for the European continent. It is interesting that international partners care about the post-oligarchic structure of Moldova no less than about the overthrow of the ‘oligarch number 1’. Probably, Moldova serves as a field for an important geopolitical experiment, which is an attempt to create from a post-Soviet state in Europe a trade corridor between the EU and the countries of the Eurasian Union. In this sense, it is significant that Russia, in the words of Dmitry Kozak, markedly respects the European choice of Moldova, and Moscow’s rhetoric about the contradiction between the free trade zones with the EU and the CIS has sunk into oblivion. The model of such a ‘compromise’ territory as in the case of Moldova does not seem perfect. The country has long been on the border between the so-called ‘Russian world’ and the European space, Moldovan society is strongly polarized on geopolitical grounds, Chisinau has long been cooperating with NATO, there is unrecognized Transdniestria with Russian troops and ammunition depot on the left bank of the Dniester. There are too many hot buttons that can aggravate the situation. However, the request for cooperation between the players is great: real losses from years of mutual sanctions between Moscow and Brussels are pushing the EU and Russia towards solutions. Moreover, in the future, some similar model should be offered to Ukraine, so as not to remain forever hostage to the conflict in the East and the domestic struggle of Ukrainian politicians, necessarily referring to the “Russian threat”, then to the “European solidarity”. The main thing in this situation is to observe all security measures during the experiment – otherwise the new ‘success story’ can turn into dangerous consequences for the Moldovans themselves and for those who are building their future today.