This week a meeting of Foreign Ministers of NATO member states was held in Bucharest. The Moldovan delegation also attended it. Expectations, political signals and behind-the-scene intrigues of the summit in the commentary of RTA expert Sergiu Ceban
Sergiu CEBAN, RTA:
The key topics of the NATO summit, in addition to current cooperation and regional security issues, were the admission of Sweden and Finland to the alliance and, of course, Ukraine and its expectations of immediate assistance. It is also important that for the first time the Moldovan delegation at the level of Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration took part in such an event.
Almost all important people mentioned Moldova in one way or another, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed the alliance’s intention to support Chisinau amid the conflict in Ukraine, which has led to difficulties in the economy and energy sector. It should be noted that Stoltenberg had previously spoken in favor of intensifying cooperation with Moldova and expressed the bloc’s willingness to increase aid as a sign of solidarity.
Many experts expected clearer political signals from the meeting of NATO members in a broad format, in particular to Kyiv and Chisinau, which are in the epicenter of the regional military confrontation. It was also expected that the thesis about the bloc’s openness to new members, first of all to Ukraine, would be formulated more clearly. On the sidelines there is speculation that NATO would like to close its gestalt from the notorious Bucharest summit of 2008, when the alliance’s doors were never thrown wide open to Kyiv because of Moscow’s glances.
On the eve of the Bucharest meeting our ambassador to Romania gave a big interview, where he spoke quite frankly about a number of issues, including the peculiar neutrality of Moldova. According to him, it is important for the country to pay more attention to strengthening the security and preferably in a broader sense, rather than solely through the military component. At the same time, he stressed that the Moldovan army is not in the best shape and efforts should be made to provide it with modern military equipment and to focus on the quality training of the officer staff. Apparently, in this declarative way our diplomacy tried to push the NATO Ministers to concrete solutions.
It is worth noting that the format of Moldovan government’s involvement in the events in the Romanian capital is broader than it may seem at first glance. For example, Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita also went to Bucharest, where, together with high-ranking representatives from 25 countries and leading international experts, she took part in a private meeting in the so-called Munich format. We must assume that the auxiliary expert platform is being designed to generate new ideas and initiatives that can be later implemented at the level of heads of official delegations.
The choice of Bucharest as the venue of the high-level meeting is far from accidental. NATO thus shows that the Black Sea and all the Black Sea regions, each with its own specifics and problems, are in its zone of strategic interest. During his speech, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated eloquently that the bloc will increase its presence in the area between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Judging by Washington’s growing attention, the Black Sea area is becoming one of the key points of long-term competition between the West and Moscow.
Despite the stabilization of the land part of the front, we cannot say that the Kremlin has abandoned its plans at sea. By blockading the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, the Russian Federation wants to maintain essentially exclusive control over maritime traffic, as well as to project its capabilities onto NATO’s southeastern flank, primarily Romania and Bulgaria. Obviously, in such a situation, there is little chance of any compromise and only one can win in this confrontation.
Moldova is caught up in these geopolitical intricacies, and Moscow’s plans to increase control of the sea by accessing the land in the southern regions of Ukraine will directly threaten our country’s security. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why U.S. Special Operations Command-Europe chief, Steven Edwards, arrived in Chisinau right in the middle of activities held in Bucharest. Admittedly, such a visit can serve as a strong message to Moscow.
Indeed, U.S. Ambassador Kent Logsdon previously voiced Washington’s intentions to boost military aid for our country to improve the ability to defend its constitutional neutrality. In the context of events in Ukraine, this year has seen heated debates about retention/cancellation of the neutral status. However, our authorities do not yet venture to transform them into some kind of national discussion. Most experts believe that putting the question of security status before the Moldovan public is long overdue. It is true that there is no general consensus among the various segments of the population on this issue – some favor maintaining the current neutrality, others consider it a relic of the 1990s and insist on bolstering military capabilities, while others argue that it would be safest to hide under the “Romanian umbrella”.
I would like to avoid lengthy deliberations of unirea, but for the last few days the Romanian and Moldovan press have been suspiciously exaggerating the topic that the Romanian leadership had convinced Brussels to start latent integration of the two countries in view of Moldova’s inability to sustain itself. And our international partners seem to be running out of stock and desire to keep the republic afloat with financial injections.
We have repeatedly said before that a lot of signs indicate Moldova’s thorough preparations for something very serious. That is why many people are wondering what our Prime Minister and diplomats were discussing in Bucharest about our country, and why NATO, together with the U.S. military, are paying such close attention. And, most importantly, why our leadership keeps a mysterious silence and intrigue. If a bright European future awaits us in a close alliance with Romania and under the military and political patronage of the West, then we can say it quite openly, because everyone has already figured it out.