US vs EU: Who Has More Power in Moldova?

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Anton Șveț
Washington and Brussels are actively exploring the territory of Moldova. The US relies on military and strategic elements, the EU on domestic and foreign policy, and ideology. For the time being there is no serious competition between them, but it is possible in the future.
The US and the EU are in full control of the situation in our republic through representatives of the ruling party, who are very open to their recommendations. Thus from July 14 to 21 Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita is visiting the US, where she is holding a number of both official and non-public meetings. The government’s press service reported on contacts with the World Bank and representatives of the American-Central European Business Association, discussing flexible mechanisms of financing Moldova during the crisis, inflation and logistical problems, as well as prospects for US companies to expand investments in our economy. Besides health, education, agriculture and infrastructure projects, the sides also discussed the country’s energy vulnerability and the need to diversify gas and electricity supplies. Such attention to the topic is understandable, since it is Washington that is ready to rapidly ‘break’ Moldova free from gas dependence on Moscow and energy dependence on Tiraspol (indirectly from Moscow again). Not taking into account the collateral losses. At least, there is a willingness of the World Bank and investors to assume a part of the financing of this costly task. Moreover, as a result of yesterday’s meeting with US State Secretary Anthony Blinken a package of financial assistance of 64.5 million US dollars was announced, ‘to support the long-term democratic and economic sustainability of the country and help Moldova protect its sovereignty.’ Meanwhile, Natalia Gavrilita’s main communication, which is not reported publicly, is not so much in financial circles as with the profile lobbyists and the so-called ‘think tank’. They guide the prime minister on the future fate of the country and the region as a whole and set appropriate tasks. Maia Sandu paid a similar visit to the USA in May. In order to explain the minimum number of formal public events, the president went to the U.S. during a specially organized vacation. In particular, Washington is brainstorming over the connection and public explanations of the constitutional provisions on Moldovan neutrality and its apparent militarization, including the increased presence of American military advisers and NATO centers. These topics become especially sensitive given today’s 30th anniversary of the signing of the truce agreement by the presidents of Russia and Moldova, after which a peacekeeping mission was organized in the Security Zone. Washington has stepped up its presence in Moldova as much as possible. The new embassy building to be built on the site of the republican stadium in Chisinau will be a keystone. In October, the NATO Information and Documentation Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary, having already accomplished more than 40 projects and 900 events involving more than 12 thousand people, as well as tens of thousands of studies, information materials and printed matter. The center actively influences the preparation of the republic’s doctrinal documents on security, including national security strategy, defense strategy, government plans and programs. On January 21, 2021 NATO opened a cyber-incident response center in Chisinau for the armed forces of Moldova. The designed cyber laboratory and assurances by then-Defense Minister Victor Gaiciuc of enhanced cyber defense capabilities have not yet paid off. A suspicious surge of mine hoaxes in recent months has interfered with the normal functioning of Chisinau airport, state and social institutions. The law enforcement authorities haven’t received any help in identifying the anonymous texts’ authors, because the center specialists may not want to expose themselves. The EU does not lag behind the US in terms of spreading and institutionalizing its influence. The unexpected obtaining of EU candidate status makes any problems of the country a double-edged sword, as it is actually being drawn into such common spaces with the EU as trade and economic, migration, regulatory and ideological. Brussels supports the activities of numerous structures and institutions controlling certain spheres of state functioning. Despite the fact that EU delegation in Chisinau is not numerous or influential, 59 European officers of the Border Guard and Coast Guard have already been deployed in our territory. Since 2005 we have had a growing number of EUBAM staff deployed in Chisinau to help with migration and customs matters. The EU Centre for Internal Security and Border Management recently opened in Chisinau, officially bringing Moldova into the EU’s common territorial and migration space. The mission of high-level EU advisors, which has been in place since 2019, plays a key role (previously, European advisors also helped, but in a less formalized way). There are 14 such advisors officially interacting with the Moldovan authorities, each with their own staff. They cover such areas as coordination of reforms, customs and tax policies, education, confidence-building measures in the Transdniestrian settlement, justice, energy, finance, internal security and fight against corruption. Some advisors have direct personal influence on Maia Sandu. Thus, Washington and Brussels are actively exploiting a large part of our territory. The US focuses on the military-strategic elements, the EU on domestic and foreign policy and ideology. At the same time, both do everything to keep PAS and Maia Sandu in power as long as possible. Therefore, the preconditions for competition between the EU and the US do not temporarily arise, but contradictions may emerge due to differences in the foreign policy structure and goals. For the US it is important to finally secure Moldova’s detachment from Russia by squeezing out the Russian military presence and discrediting the pro-Russian forces, permanently entrenching in the republic at the level of NATO and its own advisers. For its part, the European Union has a much more difficult task, which is to financially, politically, and ideologically support Moldova as a candidate for accession to the EU. Including to deal with the problems and dead ends of our state-building, accumulated for 30 years – endemic nepotism and corruption, unclear identity under constant pressure from the unirea factor with Romania, the crisis in the Transdniestrian settlement, etc. We have a classic situation of Washington solving its foreign policy problems with the hands and wallets of the Europeans.