Euro Bureaucrats Coming to Save Moldova’s Ruling Party?

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Anton SVET
This week Moldova is expecting a “landing” of high-ranking EU officials: Brussels is seriously worried about its own asset and plans to provide urgent moral support to the ruling party amid the worsening energy crisis and socio-economic turmoil
Last weekend was marked by several curious trends. First, protest activity continued, but with an obvious fade. The traditional Sunday protest rally, even according to the organizers themselves, drew fewer people than before. The creativity of the participants in the anti-government rallies dries up, the informal protest leaders Ilan Sor and Gheorghe Cavcaluc make less and less clear statements, as if they feel the doom of their plans to overthrow Maia Sandu. The struggle with the authorities is becoming more and more routine, and without the proper drive it risks coming to naught. But the regime still cannot feel comfortable. After all, the confrontation with Vlad Plahotniuc half a decade ago was also protracted and mutually exhausting – the tent camp in the center of the capital was active for many months, becoming a symbol of the protesters’ willingness to go the long way. All the more so since the socio-economic basis of the anti-government movement is still there. On the contrary, the second trend last week was another increase in utility rates - this time for electricity. Given the purchase of electricity from the Romanian stock, prices are sure to continue to rise. Especially given the mixed reaction of Romanian society to Maia Sandu’s call to save light, so that Moldova could have enough. Meanwhile, the “tab” of the European Union called Common Agenda is so far successfully practicing its methodology of discrediting and neatly “draining” the protests. Many hesitant voters change their attitude to anti-government rallies as the respectable opposition delivers unflattering assessments of Ilan Sor’s activities to the public, including on pro-government TV channels. In such a scenario, when the administration of the protest is in the hands of a minority parliamentary party and a young party project with a minimal electoral base (PACE), the forces are fundamentally unequal. However, the situation could change drastically under the influence of Vlad Plahotniuc’s joining the protests that would radically change the internal political situation in the country. Many representatives of the so-called Common Agenda have a long experience of partnership with the Democratic Party and the oligarchic regime, not to mention the undoubted managerial skills of the team of the former leader of the Democrats. Thus, the Socialists (and not only) would hardly be more receptive to Brussels’ recommendations than to cooperation with an all-powerful oligarch if he came back to Moldova. That is why the European Union, which took a big risk in granting Moldova candidate status, is watching the situation closely, trying to give maximum support to Maia Sandu’s autocratic regime. Probably for the purpose of moral assistance to the government, the president and the PAS this week “landing” of high-ranking bureaucrats from EU is planned in Chisinau. In particular, the head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will visit the country. The first one plans to address the Parliament to nip in the bud any misunderstandings in the PAS, point out the limited role of the BoCS constructive opposition, and criticize the “turncoats” from the Sor party. The chief parliamentarian of the European Union will make it clear that Moldova’s current problems are a direct consequence of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and that the government is doing a good job in difficult times. And in general, the prospect of Moldova’s membership in the EU opens a new page in the country’s history, which directly prohibits any discontent on the way to a brighter future. Ursula von der Leyen’s visit will most likely be a utilitarian one, as the ruling party needs concrete assistance, funding and expertise. The chief of the European Commission is expected to promise new loans and grants to our government to overcome the energy crisis. With no free money in the budget, Moldova will not be able to buy Romanian electricity for long, even if the household tariffs are raised and the current, relatively favorable (only three times more expensive than that of the MGRES) exchange prices prevail. It is clear that Brussels will not sponsor Moldova completely at no charge. As we know, the guarantees of the government to sell the property of the Moldovan gas transmission system to a European company could be an important part of the financing agreements. We are talking about the assets that were pledged as collateral under the Energocom loan issued to Moldovagaz SA to cover the cost of Russian gas supplies. With the current volumes of supplied blue fuel, even if the proportions of deliveries to the right bank and the left bank are changed in favor of the former, it is virtually impossible to repay the loan. Accordingly, the pledged property may come into the government’s possession as early as in spring and subsequently be resold. Washington is also interested that such a deal takes place and has already allocated $19.5 million to the Moldovan budget “to reduce dependence on only one energy source”. Predictably, the European Union’s payment will be more solid. Of course, Ursula von der Leyen will also talk about European prospects for Chisinau. In this vein, the business conference “Moldova and Ukraine on the Way to the EU” is due later this week, where she will talk about the legislative approximation, opportunities and risks for small and medium-sized businesses, given the candidacy status and the conflict in Ukraine. Thus, the authorities, with the strong support of international patrons, will be able to turn public attention away from pressing issues and garner additional funding. In fact, nothing will change, but the mistakes and flaws in the government’s activity will be successfully concealed by the European lawyers of Maia Sandu’s regime. All indications are that such governing mechanics can persist for years to come, plunging the country more and more into poverty and moving it further away from solving the real problems of the population.