The number of supporters of joining NATO is gradually growing in Moldova against the background of the bloc’s growing interest in the Black Sea region as a whole and in the republic in particular. After the elections, one can expect adjustments in the course and rhetoric of the country’s leadership towards a further refusal of neutrality with a parallel search for closer forms of cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance.
Over recent weeks, several opinion polls have been published to assess expectations and sentiments in Moldovan society on the eve of early parliamentary elections. This is especially about the country’s further external course implementation, which includes several sub-directions – which is not only the European and Eurasian Unions, but also the issue of joining NATO, as well as unification with neighboring Romania.
Thus, in particular, according to recent data, already about 30% of Moldovan citizens are ready to vote for the republic’s joining the North Atlantic Alliance. This is a record figure when compared with the figures not only in recent years (in 2013, only 1% of the population supported the idea of rapprochement with NATO), but even in the current half of the year. About half of the country’s residents are negative about the prospect of Moldova joining the military-political bloc. However, of fundamental importance in this regard is not the persisting high number of opponents, but the fact that the curve of supporters of renouncing neutral status is slowly creeping up.
Most likely, the smooth growth of a positive perception of the North Atlantic bloc in Moldovan society can be explained by the “resurrection” of pro-Western and pro-European ideas, which with renewed vigor began to capture the minds and hearts of our people. At the same time, it is impossible to ignore the significantly increased interest of the collective West in our regional space from a military-political point of view, which will be expressed, among other things, in concrete measures to positively position NATO in Moldova.
Experts have long noted that against the background of the confrontation between the Euro-Atlantic structures and the Kremlin, there was a sharp activation of NATO in the post-Soviet space. The latter is more and more clearly acquiring the features of a fortified area with a deeply echeloned defense against Russia. Therefore, our republic is increasingly falling into the focus of attention of the leadership of the bloc. This year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already stated several times that the alliance is ready to protect its allies and partners from threats permanently emanating from Moscow, which, according to him, has repeatedly violated the territorial integrity of some countries, including Moldova.
At the moment, Romania is considered as the main outpost in the Black Sea region, on which recently Washington and NATO have been placing the greatest emphasis on security issues in the southeastern borders. In view of this, and also taking into account the existential perception of our country by Bucharest as a subordinate “younger brother”, one can expect an intensification of cooperation with Chisinau in the military sphere for the further implementation of existing strategic plans. Probably, the Romanian leadership will use NATO’s principled intention to continue strengthening its positions in the Black Sea region in order to extrapolate this process to Moldova.
The fact that Romania will more energetically lobby for the inclusion of the republic in the current agenda of the Alliance in the coming years leaves no doubt. So, in early May, under the leadership of the presidents of Romania and Poland, the B9 summit was held in Bucharest, in which the US leader Joe Biden also took part. In addition to pressing issues related to the alarming situation in the Black Sea, a separate topic of conversation was also a significant security deficit in Moldova.
The next event, the results of which may also conceptually change the practical approaches of the main players to our regional space, will be the meeting of the presidents of the United States and Russia, as well as the summit of the North Atlantic Alliance on June 14, where it is planned to approve the new strategic concept “NATO 2030”. Bucharest has already presented its vision of this document, proposing an increase in the military presence of allies in the Black Sea and, in particular, in the south of the eastern flank of the alliance, and also called for increased support for the eastern neighbors – NATO’s non-aligned partners. In addition, Romania spoke in favor of continuing the policy of further expansion of the bloc.
The first step towards strengthening the regional functionality of Bucharest was the opening on May 31 in the Romanian capital of the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Center, which is designed to help strengthen the stability of both current NATO members and individual countries in partnership with the Alliance and the European Union. According to Romanian experts, the opened center will become a real help for Moldova to support democratic reforms – and not only.
Washington and Bucharest expect that the pro-Western forces will win the necessary political space in Moldova during the parliamentary elections and gain a foothold in power for a period sufficient to make the process of integration of our state into the Euro-Atlantic space irreversible.
The traditional course of cooperation without the official membership of the Republic of Moldova in the alliance, as was carried out before, so, most likely, will continue in the future under any Moldovan government. True, the quality and intensity of such a partnership may vary. An obvious obstacle to NATO’s expansion in the regional space under consideration is not so much the neutrality of Moldova enshrined in the Constitution, but the presence of a 30-year protracted unresolved conflict with Transdniestria and the constant presence of Russian peacekeeping forces as an integral component of this conflict. In this regard, the building up of the potential of the North Atlantic bloc, as well as the activation of the alliance and its individual interested members in the southeastern direction will inevitably lead to an increase in tension around the topic of the “Transdniestrian conflict” in connection with the expected intensification of actions by the West in alliance with a part of the operations.
As well known, the pressure of the official Chisinau on the peacekeeping presence of Russia, orchestrated by the Western “development partners”, has been carried out for decades in a row. Some of our non-governmental organizations have long ago developed the necessary arguments. Let us recall the report published back in 2015 by Promo-LEX on the status of Russian peacekeepers in Moldova. It directly states that: the current peacekeeping mission on the Dniester does not meet the criteria of stability, democracy, human rights, protection of property; Russia is a party to the conflict, so one cannot speak of the impartiality of the peacekeeping mission; Russian peacekeepers were involved in incidents of intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders, illegal detention, murders, etc.
Thus, there is no doubt that peace and tranquility on the banks of the Dniester will depend on the results of early parliamentary elections in the country. Obtaining all levers of power in the country by the right-wing pro-Western parties is likely to lead to an escalation of tensions. The consequences for the future of Moldova from geopolitically determined reckless actions in the field of the Transdniestrian settlement can be extremely unpleasant. Our people will soon have to decide whether to turn the country into a “bridge” for cooperation between East and West, or into a “testing ground” for geopolitical confrontation.
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