A new Individual Moldova-NATO Partnership Action Plan adoption (that is likely to occur next year) could become a new frontier in the integration of the republic with the North Atlantic Alliance
The republic’s cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance has a long history and a fairly solid foundation. The first Moldova-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) was approved during the reign of the Communist Party in 2006, (by the way the current speaker of the parliament, Zinaida Greceanii countersigned it). It was within this document that the main provisions were laid and which only expanded and supplemented over time.
Thus, already in the 2006th IPAP it was indicated that the main strategic goals of the Republic of Moldova are integration into the EU, dialogue intensification and cooperation deepening with Euro-Atlantic structures. It is important to note that in the process of implementing such documents, Moldova must coordinate its actions with Brussels and the international organizations operating in the country. For example, the provisions of the plan envisage NATO’s direct participation in the development of the concepts of national security and defense of the Republic of Moldova, as well as in reforming relevant state institutions.
Over the past time, relations between Moldova and the Alliance have entered a more or less stable development trajectory. The situation did not change when Igor Dodon and a little later and his Party of Socialists came to power. Gradually, the ex-president abandoned the belligerent rhetoric towards the Alliance, as a result of which the bilateral interaction not only did not stop but even increased in scale in some areas. For example, in 2019, 663 Moldovan military personnel took part in 20 joint exercises of the alliance, including Agile Hunter 2019 and Rapid Trident 2019. In September of the same year, Igor Dodon paid a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, and in December the government of Ion Chicu approved the Action Plan, which provided for the development of a new IPAP for 2020-2022, as well as the implementation of the Air Situation Data Exchange Program between Moldova, Romania and NATO.
It was planned the new document development to be completed by June 2020, but the process delayed. Most likely, both the pandemic and the electoral context played their role. Despite this, the Chicu government managed to approve in May this year, the Long-term plan for military potential development of the National Army for 2020-2030, which provided for the implementation of NATO’s 2015 initiative to modernize the defense potential of the Republic of Moldova (DCBI).
Yet in November, the Chicu government’s draft on Individual Action Plan for 2021-2023 approval was finally published. As expected, the new IPAP continues focusing on the implementation of the Association Agreement between Moldova and the European Union and strengthening interaction with Euro-Atlantic structures.
The Plan states that cooperation of the Republic of Moldova with NATO should be based on respect for country’s neutrality, taking into account the 2017 Constitutional Court Provision. Recall that in this document Transdniestria is declared a territory occupied by Russia, while deploying any foreign military formations in Moldova is unconstitutional. Therefore, if a threat to its territorial integrity and security, Moldova undertakes to take all the necessary measures to protect itself, including the possibility of becoming a member of defensive alliances.
In addition, the resolution of the Constitutional Court notes that the right of neutrality does not provide for additional conditions limiting the foreign policy of a neutral state, except for its non-participation in armed conflicts between other countries. In this regard, the participation of the Republic of Moldova in collective security systems, cooperation with other states in certain areas and preventive measures in the military field does not contradict the status of neutrality.
Thus, Moldova retains the right to participate in joint NATO exercises. And the Plan itself clearly states that a high degree of military interaction with armies allies and NATO partners will be achieved through Moldova’s participation in international military maneuvers, as well as through introducing alliance’s standards in the country’s armed forces.
As for the NATO Liaison Office that so many lances broke with, the IPAP project says it “opens up new opportunities for strengthening dialogue” in the process of implementing reforms in the security and I the defense sphere. In addition, it is indicated that the Moldovan authorities should contribute to the work of the institution by all possible means and open as well new ones on other issues, if necessary. Moreover, Chisinau undertakes to promote cooperation between Moldova and NATO in the national media and highlight to the citizens of the Republic of Moldova the benefits of cooperation with the alliance.
Other interesting points include close participation of Moldova in various Alliance initiatives, regular consultations with its members on various issues of foreign and defense policy and the listing of numerous areas it is planned to increase bilateral cooperation within. There are also points about the Transdniestrian settlement. For example, protection of human rights monitoring on the left bank of the Dniester, ensuring the security of the central section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, withdrawing Russian troops and transforming the peacekeeping operation.
Given the next political crisis and the prospects for early parliamentary elections, the IPAP 2021-2023 approval may again be delayed indefinitely. On the other hand, there is no doubt it will be adopted. As practice shows, the partnership between Moldova and NATO has reached a sufficient level to practically not be directly dependent on the internal political situation in Chisinau. This was as well proved by the experience of Igor Dodon and the socialists’ government, who were initially negative towards.
Thus, if nothing extraordinary occurs, next year another logical step can be made to help conquer new frontiers on the path of Moldova’s Euro-Atlantic integration and reform the National Army according to the Western model. Moreover, some provisions of the plan began to be implemented in practice already this year, as evidenced the appointment of US defense adviser to the relevant Moldovan ministry.
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