Key international organizations are constantly strengthening their influence on Moldova. The peak in the power for transnational players and sovereign capabilities reduction for both the country itself and for some of the states that have previously actively taken part within the Moldovan arena – these are current situation’s characteristics.
In the middle of the week, the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu published (as she herself admitted) “very good news”. By the end of June (which is quite a long time to wait for, given the disastrous situation in public health), 100,620 of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses are to be delivered to Moldova through the COVAX platform. Despite technologically difficult storage and use conditions, this vaccine enjoys serious trust in the world, in contrast to the scandalized and even recently rebranded AstraZeneca drug – the only one Moldova has access to today. Obviously, such a vaccine supply dynamic, which directly depends on the neighboring Romanian government’s generosity is a failure for Moldova, since the vaccination process (that started later than anywhere else on the European continent) is noticeably stalling.
Moldovan politicians have so far failed arranging the Russian Sputnik V supplies. The provisional government of the Republic of Moldova has been choosing for the suffering Moldovan population the most resonant time for this act of charity for such a long period of time that it actually overslept every conceivable time frame and forced the western-oriented Maia Sandu turn to Moscow (along with other capitals) requesting for a humanitarian vaccine supply.
In the context when the deficit due to political ambitions and the lack of professionalism of individual figures, the WHO Regional Office in Moldova (which is responsible for delivering vaccines through the COVAX platform) took actually over the immunization process for the population of the Republic of Moldova and the administration process for the crumbling health care system as a whole. In addition to vaccines transfer, the organization runs humanitarian aid distribution, including tests, medical equipment and personal protective equipment, provides methodological and professional support for medical personnel, and even does directly participate in establishing a dialogue on pandemic management between the two banks of the Dniester.
Such a situation seems to be quite objective and justified if taking into account the crisis within public health. However, medicine is hardly the only industry in Moldova where the management is outsourced to international organizations.
The OSCE, which is being actively criticized in Chisinau, has significantly strengthened its positions. After the “5 + 2” format stopped its activity, it is in fact the OSCE only to continue perform its mediating functions in the negotiation process, to regularly contact both conflict sides and to try avoiding aggravation. Even though the situation in the settlement keeps remaining extremely negative, given the meetings dynamics decrease and the existence of a whole range of problems, the OSCE and its Mission in Chisinau have staked out a monopoly on organizational and diplomatic negotiation support. Other international participants in the 5 + 2 format have at least come to terms with.
However, the OSCE’s success in the field of security is far more important and serious. Over recent years, the Moldovan government has realized it is not enough and generally not necessary to publicly call for peacekeeping mission’s transformation and Russian troops’ withdrawal, since this only provokes Russia making reciprocal statements. It is much wiser to take real steps and squeeze out the Russian contingent influence in the daily peacekeeping process. And here, the OSCE Mission staff’s capabilities prove useful the best possible way. Military observers, who are servicemen from Russia, Ukraine and both banks of the Dniester do not cope with their duties, at least, Chisinau has repeatedly stated this. They often cannot or have no time to travel to the Security Zone facilities due to one of the parties’ refusals. On the other hand, being more mobile and indifferent to the consensus principles, members of the OSCE Mission to Moldova are always present where needed. For the OSCE staff it is enough receiving a call from any serious Moldovan official to go anywhere on the territory of Moldova.
A mutually beneficial process results out of: the OSCE Mission increases its capabilities and receives additional funding from the center, where it sends regular reports on the state of the peacekeeping process, thus confirming its key role; Moldova moves towards implementing the strategic task which is replacing the peacekeeping operation with a peacekeeping or police mission under the OSCE auspices. In this situation, the inability of the parties since October last year to arrange a scheduled Joint Control Commission meeting is only a pleasant bonus confirming the inability of the format within modern circumstances.
In turn, the operational group of Russian troops presence in the Transdniestrian region is viewed as an atavism, since the Security Zone monitoring can be delegated to the OSCE Mission representatives and the number of peacekeeping posts can be progressively reduced to zero in order to facilitate freedom of movement between the two banks of the Dniester.
It is of fundamental importance the fact that the OSCE revitalization in Moldova does not contradict a more intensive involvement of the North Atlantic Alliance in the region. Another exercise with contingents from Moldova, Romania and the United States participation took place last week and provoked a conflict within the framework of the Joint Control Commission. However, a Security Zone regime violation was recorded only by Transdniestrian representatives by means of artisanal methods since no military observers or members of the OSCE Mission went there. Consequently, this problem will not have to be included in the JCC meetings’ agenda, especially since the agenda itself has not been approved for already six months.
Meanwhile, the NATO information bureau, the advisers of the Alliance under the national army of the Republic of Moldova only strengthened their influence under the current and previous governments of the Republic of Moldova, and the main threat, based on the security strategy of the Republic of Moldova, remains the Russian military presence and the conflict in Transdniestria.
Despite the EU Delegation to the Republic of Moldova’s passive activity which arises from properly Ambassador’s personal qualities, Brussels continues energetically work in Moldova at a key departmental level through the Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM), which is the main intellectual institutional center of the EU’s influence on Moldovan politics. EUBAM is responsible for priority areas, for independent development which Moldova has no appropriate resource and analytical potential for.
The Mission’s Road Transport and Integrated Border Management projects are of key importance. EUBAM managers and line employees are directly involved within prohibitive measures administration against cars from Transdniestria (planned from this autumn) and are also actively involved in the information campaign for the Moldovan border police in this regard.
The Joint Customs and Border Control project in Kuchurgany that is so much troubling Tiraspol is also directly EUBAM linked. It is the Mission that finances physical infrastructure and software product development, organizes interaction of specialized bodies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, and provides information support for the project. In the context of pandemic, whilst other checkpoints remain closed, this tool that is located on the central (Transdniestrian) border section plays a decisive role in the negotiation process and makes it possible demanding practically unlimited concessions from Tiraspol. In this sense, Chisinau is deliberately transferring “settlement keys ” into the Brussels’ hands.
The aforementioned international organizations, together with a number of other players and foundations do actually control key processes in Moldova, and the endless public struggle for power is just a screen that disguises Moldova’s complete sovereignty loss. Meanwhile, the situation shows there’s no fundamental importance who wins the confrontation between Maia Sandu and Igor Dodon because he/she is to anyway follow this imposed line no matter what. Ministerial portfolios and other forms of feeding distribution as destruction of local health care or education, the fight against “Russian propaganda” keep still remaining in the competence of Moldovan politicians. Everything else, including security and the conflict with Transdniestria is consistently left at international partners’ mercy.
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