Moldova stands at a crossroads with many paths leading to repeating old and making new historical mistakes
This week, one of the Russian news agencies published, in fact, a programmed interview with Vladimir Voronin, the co-chairman of the communists and socialists bloc. The ex-president again voiced a number of key theses, which have already become a kind of visiting card in the rhetoric of the left forces: “saving Moldova from corrupt officials, oligarchs, poverty and loss of sovereignty”, opposing the “unionism invasion” and “Western agents of influence.” At the same time, Voronin recalled the year 2009, when, in his opinion, “the country took the wrong path,” hinting that the dramatic events of April 7 of that year could be repeated after the July 11 voting.
Indeed, certain parallels with 2009 are obvious. Back then, the so-called Alliances for European Integration were formed with the direct political and financial support of the West, primarily the European Union. Various corruption schemes to pillage the European aid were organized under the blue-star banners, a billion euros were stolen from the country’s banking system in subsequent years. A cherry on top was the dictatorship of the autocratic oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, whose regime was odious and “out-of-control” (recall the 2018Chisinau mayoral election) so that the European Union itself eventually refused to support him.
Today, international partners also boss around in Moldovan: they openly meddle into political and pre-election processes, augment their influence and passportize the population of Moldova, step up the republic’s accession to the NATO orbit, and also raise tensions around the Transdniestrian conflict. These actions are designed to solve both operational tasks, for example, to help the loyal political forces to come to power, and to promote the far-reaching goals which not necessarily correspond organically to Moldova’s interests.
Particular concern from the point of view of the country’s long-term development prospects is caused by the policy of the European Union in the Moldovan track. It would seem that the fatal consequences of the events of the first half of the 2010s should have been a good lesson for Brussels how not to integrate Moldova into Europe. In 2018, following the election results cancellation for the Chisinau mayor, the EU blocked macro-financial aid and redirected its flows directly to the regions, bypassing the government. The latter was asked point-blank to implement reforms and investigate the theft of a billion.
However, today, instead of a pragmatic approach in relations with Chisinau – “money in exchange for reforms” – Brussels is apparently returning to a political one – “money in exchange for a loyal course”. This was already evident in 2019, when assistance was instantly resumed, allegedly for the conditions to carry out reforms created by the Sandu-led cabinet of ministers, although nothing of the kind was observed. Now the EU is ready to give the new Moldovan authorities a whopping 600 million euros, almost doubling the previous volumes of support. And it would be okay if it was just an “election bribe” laid out on the table to benefit the electoral prospects of PAS. It is much more dangerous that by doing so the EU is stepping on the same rake with its own hands, again sponsoring not Moldova, but a favourable political regime suitable for them to again build a “success story”. And who guarantees that the consequences won’t be as sad as before.
Apparently, foreign advisers, whose number in the presidential circle is gradually growing, are expected to somehow balance the problem of corruption of local elites. There is already an agreement with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (which is still not publicly available), an Anti-Corruption Committee involving foreign specialists has been formed under the head of state, and agreements with other Western expert structures are being prepared.
It is interesting that the activities of all these experts, including those in government positions, are funded from outside. Apparently, the Western partners are trying to establish a parallel system of control over Moldovan affairs that is autonomous from the local authorities, which will consolidate its Euro-Atlantic course and put reforms on the stream. Another thing is that the previous work of all these consultants left much to be desired in terms of its effectiveness. As for the current composition, some of them have already showed their “worth” with a minus sign during the “rise of the European integration” and some of them have failed similar work in other countries.
Most likely, cooperation with Romania will receive a new breath after the elections. Even if the unionist parties do not get into parliament, one way or another, Bucharest will have a powerful ally in the person of PAS, whose leaders have never hidden their sympathy or ties with the neighboring state. In recent years, Romania has generally been a kind of “mentor” of the main pro-European party of the republic. It can be recalled that Maia Sandu made her first official visit as prime minister to Bucharest, and as head of state she first received Klaus Iohannis in the capital.
Noteworthy are also the statements by the pro-presidential party leaders, who regard the unionists as partners in the ruling alliance. There is no doubt that if the pro-Western majority wins, Chisinau will at least turn a blind eye to the expansion of Romania’s network of influence on all key spheres and activities of unionist parties , which will fuel a steady trend to make the idea of the two countries’ unification more popular in the Moldovan society.
The rapprochement with the North Atlantic bloc will continue. A new action plan for cooperation between Moldova and the Alliance is about to be adopted, and it contains peculiar items that go beyond purely military cooperation.
Against this background, a new cooling, even freezing, of relations with Russia seems almost inevitable, which barely began to recover in 2016. The first statements by the president-elect about the need to withdraw Russian troops made Moscow really angry. Since then, she tries to avoid the hottest topics and even makes symbolic gestures like congratulating Vladimir Putin on Russia Day. How much of this is a real desire to establish pragmatic contact with the Kremlin, rather than a banal pre-election logic (not to scare the voters away)? It is difficult to say, but the facts show that during the six months of Sandu’s presidency, no steps were seen to improve bilateral relations, and this only reinforced the opinion that the pro-European forces did not initially have such a goal.
The prospects for a Transdniestrian settlement remain unclear, with no good news in that regard for a long time. The situation is only getting worse and the chances of resolving the conflict with the left bank peacefully and reintegrating it into the country at the current stage are slim. The statements and actions of international partners only fuel the situation around the region, contributing to the consistent escalation of the internal territorial conflict in the country.
Today the country is at a crossroads with many paths leading to both repeating old mistakes and making new historical ones, with grave or even catastrophic consequences for the country. It is important that the challenges, risks and threats facing Moldova are well understood by everyone involved in the pre-election and political processes in the country – from an ordinary voter to future leaders of the state.
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