Maia Sandu’s External Shortsightedness Threatens Moldova’s Interests

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The President took another step away from healthy relations with Moscow, ignoring the informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg
Semion ALBU, RTA: The traditional informal summit of the CIS heads of state has started today in Russia’s northern capital. According to the Kremlin’s website, the initiator of the meeting is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although this is not officially stated, it is obvious that the event is timed to coincide with the recent thirtieth anniversary of the Commonwealth. The leaders gathered in St. Petersburg have serious goals: to discuss the results of Belarus’ presidency this year, as well as measures to strengthen mutual cooperation and socio-economic development of their countries. In case anyone has forgotten, Moldova is still an active and full member of the Commonwealth of Independent States – whether someone in the ruling party likes it or not. Therefore, Madam President once again faced a dilemma, just like before the Crimean Platform summit: to go or not to go? On the one hand there is the pro-European image of our leader, which she doesn’t really want to “ruin” by meeting with Vladimir Putin, especially in the current geopolitical situation. On the other – the national interests of the republic, which could be promoted during the summit, both at general meetings and in private conversations, and not only with Putin. Like many other observers, it was initially clear to me that Maia Sandu, of course, would not go. Of interest was only the choice of the “excuse” the government would use to cover up the president’s next ignoring of the foreign policy Russian direction. They decided not to reinvent the wheel. It turned out that the country’s leader simply did not know whether there was any invitation at all. In general, there is already such a phenomenon of “letters lost in the presidency”. First they “lost” the invitation to the anniversary of Gagauz autonomy, then the letter of the Tiraspol leader “wasn’t not found”. It looks like some very rotten and rather stupid excuse for such a level, unless due to the European spirit overabundance our leader has developed a special form of political partial blindness, where part of the domestic and foreign policy spectrum has ceased to be visible. I hope that at least the mail from the dear Western partners arrives smoothly. Another reason presented to the public is the notorious “absence of an agenda”. It’s also such a universal excuse not to go to Moscow for a year. I think there is an agenda to meet with the heads of, for example, the Baltic countries, and more than once a year. With the President of Iceland, let's say - too. Just imagine this detailed and diverse agenda. But when it comes to Russia, we immediately need some kind of mythically powerful visit program. Although there are many issues that can and must be discussed with the Kremlin, and most of them even a layman who is far from the subtleties of our foreign policy knows. Those are the energy component, the importance of which this autumn has shown more than clearly; trade, primarily the access of Moldovan goods to the Russian market; the situation of our migrants; the Transnistrian settlement, which has no end in sight without Russia. And after all, the most interesting thing is that even despite all the anti-Russian actions of the new government, Moscow is still ready to talk to them, while turning a blind eye to many things, and besides, to negotiate on good terms for us, as it was with the gas contract. However, instead of taking advantage of participation in such organizations as the CIS and the EAEU, for some reason we continue to distance ourselves from them, it is unclear in the name of what. The consequence of such political shortsightedness can only be a further deterioration of relations with Moscow. To what extent? Well, there are study cases of those who pointedly ignores participation in the Commonwealth or even defiantly left it, slamming the door: Georgia and Ukraine. Do we really want the same relations with Moscow as these two countries? On the other hand, it’s not for nothing that we are tied to them by the Association Trio… In many ways, it was the irresponsibility and narrow-mindedness of the president that led to the fact that the price of gas for our country has dramatically increased. Yes, it could have been much worse, as we can see – but it could have been better. This was clearly suggested by Vladimir Putin, who noted that if Moldova continued cooperation with the EAEU, it would be easier to solve its problems, including energy. However, the president, in fact, has put personal ambitions and image above the interests of the country – and continues to do so. Surely, after all, not without the instructions of Brussels – it is necessary to somehow support the story about Moldova’s “heroic resistance” to the “pressure” and the “power policy” of Russia, which is being fostered by European politicians and the media. It is unclear how long Moscow will keep its doors open for Chisinau. But even now the authorities are laying new mines for bilateral relations. Take the gas contract. Until recently, the country’s leadership rejoiced at the final conditions and even (reluctantly) admitted that Moscow did not put political demands on the negotiations. Very little time has passed, and we hear: Maia Sandu talks about the notorious “Russian pressure”, and Natalia Gavrilita suddenly says that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu did not have the authority to sign the contract with Gazprom. Apparently, in this way they are preparing the ground for invalidating the historical Moldovan debt to the energy company – and there is no need to guess what the consequences of such a rash step will be. Lately, the president has been making such mini-reports on the results of her first year of rule. Among the main attributed achievements is “an active foreign policy and a way out of international isolation”. However, it is very strange to talk about such an achievement considering the fact that now we isolate ourselves from the Russian vector. The motives for this are ridiculous and do not stand up to criticism. Why has the agenda of the president’s visit to Moscow not appeared in a year? Is it possible to call such a foreign policy pragmatic and active? And is it worth spoiling relations with Russia in the current regional realities, where a careless step can even result in the loss of statehood?