Vassalage While There Is No Unirea?

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Semyon ALBU
With the EU blessing, Romania can start managing the worsening situation in Moldova, taking advantage of the cultural, linguistic and geographical proximity, as well as close political contacts
There was a landmark date yesterday – the 105th anniversary of the so called “Union of Bessarabia with Romania”. This event played a rather ambiguous and, in my opinion, negative role in the history of our country. Not many of today’s young Unionists are at least superficially familiar with the features of co-habitation of “the two banks of the Prut” between 1918 and 1940. This was not a period of prosperity and well-being for the territory of present-day Moldova. On the contrary, partial de-industrialization led to impoverishment of the local population, valuables were taken out across the Prut, unemployment and socio-economic problems increased. Not a “success story” at all. Yet, the worst thing is that this historically short period deeply metastasized the body of Moldova. The notorious “Unirea” and the attempts to reproduce it in the early 1990s cost us the loss of an important part of the MSSR, with its industrial potential, and the armed conflict, while the influence of the “older Romanian brother” over the following thirty years has been slowly undermining the foundations of the Moldovan statehood. The recent vivid example of which is the rejection of our own language. However, all these uncomfortable historical moments did not stop the current authorities, hopelessly ill with “unionism of the brain” and promoting a course for the all-out romanization of Moldova, from pompous celebration of the Unirea anniversary. Below are some iconic quotes. “On this important day for all Romanians ... we celebrate the ever closer relationship between the two banks of the Prut. The people on both sides of the Prut are more united than ever in the common desire of this part of Europe to be united for peace, well-being and justice” is from Maia Sandu’s speech. And this is Nicu Papescu’s high praise, “March 27, 1918 is a historical moment that had a great impact on the future of our countries. The reunification with Romania, accomplished 105 years ago, meant the rescue of Moldova from war, communism, dictatorship, gulag and terror, allowed us to rejoice in peace and development in the years that followed. Today we are united with Romania in our common cause of bringing Moldova to the European Union.” Igor Grosu, the main staff unionist of the ruling regime, distinguished himself most of all. In Ialoveni, in the presence of high-ranking Romanian officials (the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and the Minister of Culture) he unveiled monuments to historical figures who formalized the unity in 1918, and then delivered a remarkable speech, “These are our predecessors who 105 years ago taught us a lesson in history, a lesson in courage. Today we face something similar ... I wish that God will help our political class and that at the right time we have enough character and resolve to make historic decisions.” I think there is no need to explain what kind of “historic decisions” Grosu had in mind. Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă stated something similar yesterday when he called on “to fully fix the liquidation of the consequences of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact”. In theory, this means the return of Bessarabia “ripped off” by Stalin to homeland Romania. It is sad how the compulsory Unionist accompaniment in the PAS foreign and domestic policies has emboldened both local and foreign officials to talk about the actual destruction of the Moldovan statehood. At the same time, they are hammering into people’s heads the idea about historical justice and that a new version of Union is inevitable. And though this scenario can hardly be realized in the very near future, one cannot but notice very curious processes around Moldova with Romania’s direct participation. See for yourselves. It’s no secret that after the “yellow plague” took power, our and Romanian officials have established very close contacts in almost all areas. Various delegations travel across the Prut in both directions with enviable regularity. It has become particularly noticeable recently. Often such trips are even semi-official, while their exact purpose remains a mystery. This is especially true for Maia Sandu: everyone remembers her “short vacation” in Oradea. And in general, our president travels to Romania more often than shuttle traders travel for goods. It seems that only a month ago she met there with President Klaus Iohannis and now, next week, she has to go to Bucharest again. The Romanian brothers are not far behind constantly delegating high dignitaries to Moldova. For example, at the moment our country receives the speakers of both houses of parliament. All this is by no means for the sake of lofty rhetoric or protocol photos. There is a real result – the merger of infrastructure, including energy, romanization of the cultural and information space of Moldova, expansion of the Romanian Orthodox Church. These facts are well known. There is one more thing. Yesterday, Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, arrived in Romania. One of the main topics at his meeting with Iohannis was Moldova. The Romanian leader assessed (!) the situation in our republic, and noted the need for “full support” from the European Union. He also announced the preparation of an EU civilian mission to provide “concrete aid in the fight against hybrid threats”. Today Michel kept exploring Moldovan affairs in meetings with Sandu, Grosu and Recean. After that, Maia Sandu, I repeat, will go to Bucharest, where she is expected to attend a trilateral summit, along with Iohannis and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Again, they are going to discuss the situation in Moldova. Certainly, it may be considered a coincidence that the head of the highest executive body of the EU and the leader of the flagship country of the Union are suddenly concerned about the situation in our republic and discuss it with the President of Romania, not only our leadership. Why so? My version is as follows. Even in Brussels, they realize that our politicians’ rhetoric about European integration differs much from the harsh reality. Moldova, given its small size and potential, generates a lot of problems and squanders European money like no other country. It is not without reason that experts are concerned about the parasitic nature of the country’s economy. It is clear to everyone that we are trapped in a spiral of perpetual socio-economic crisis, entering each new circle in even worse conditions. Only huge investments in the development of production, preferably high-tech, could change the situation, but who will give them? Moreover, even they would not be a guarantee, given all the problems of the Moldovan system, which has the ability to absorb almost any amount without any benefit for the country. For example, last year we received a billion dollars from the West, did anybody feel that? Let’s add political instability, dysfunctional justice, security threats, the frozen Transdniestrian conflict, the demographic disaster – “too much”, as they say. We are very close to the point of no return, the complete and final bankruptcy of the state, and all our partners are well aware of this. They seem to be looking for solutions among the options that lie on the surface. After all, there is Romania, which, after the snap parliamentary election results, immediately signaled its ambition to be a “chief operator of the new Moldova”. And now EU can view these ambitions with more favor. Bucharest, because of its cultural, linguistic and geographical proximity, as well as established political contacts, could in theory administer Moldovan affairs more effectively, including the notorious European integration, given that a joint parliamentary committee is fully operational. This past winter, the Romanians played the role of an energy hub for Moldova, providing storage and supplies of natural gas. The experience was apparently recognized as a success, and our officials are still praising our Rumanian fellows. Of course, a confusion happened with the electricity, but it can be easily dismissed as a temporary “lapping”. So why should Bucharest now supervise not only the energy sector and European integration but also, for example, the reform process? Or monitor the incoming financial flows? If my version is not far from the truth, we can admit that Moldova is finally turning into a vassal state with very limited independence both in foreign and domestic affairs. This is a sad but quite logical outcome.