Is It Possible to Join the EU Without War?

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Semyon ALBU
It seems that Moldova no longer has a chance to even apply for EU membership without being fully incorporated into the Euro-Atlantic military perimeter. But why?
The further, the more the internal Moldovan affairs and problems are handed over to the foreign partners. At the same time, the policy of the ruling regime has narrowed down to three main points. The first is to protect its own power. In this case, everything is clear: the destruction of any real opposition, the shutdown of disloyal media, the forcible seizure of the justice system. Looking at how all democratic norms and principles are disregarded, even Plahotniuc, who could do all sorts of things, would probably exclaim: “Could that be done like that?” Well, if you are a “God’s chosen pro-European good person”, then, apparently, you can do whatever you want. Yet, this is a topic for a separate discussion. So far, let us focus on the other two “pillars” of the regime, the European integration and militarization. For all their differences, they are parallel and, I would even say, interconnected. While the country’s entire cleansed media space is buzzing with news about the absurd pro-Europe rally in Chisinau’s central square and the subsequent gathering of the so-called European Political Community, money is quietly being injected into our defense sector. Thus, the EU Foreign Affairs Council approved the decision to give Moldova a new tranche of military aid worth 40 million euros (last year we received a similar amount from Brussels).  Until recently, that was the amount of money we spent on defense in a year. And this is only one channel of support, with the money coming from everywhere, including directly from partners like USA, Romania, Germany, etc. We have also greatly (almost by 70%) increased the “military share” in the budget, making a very respectable $87 million this year. This sum is big for our country, but what can we do if one air defense radar, which the government had to buy no matter what, costs almost $15 million. However, even this high level of funding looks insignificant against the truly Napoleonic plans of the authorities to reform the national armed forces. It is not without reason that the Army-2030 project, adopted several years ago, was recalled. Under it, Moldova should get rid of obsolete Soviet armaments and have a modernized army that meets international (certainly, NATO) standards. And this will require annual investments of at least 5 billion (!) lei, or about 250 million euros. Obviously, even if we strain every nerve, we can’t afford this level of spending. So Maia Sandu and her accomplices are forced to constantly beg for money for defense from international partners. The latter, as we can see, are willing to help, but not always for free and the main burden must be borne by our taxpayers anyway. After all, the above French radar will be bought at the expense of the budget, which will also pay for the construction of a “modern military base in line with European standards” near Chisinau (also, of course, a very timely expenditure). As a result, the country is in the deepest crisis, state debts are growing every day, poverty is increasing, and the depopulation is the fastest on the continent. Yet, the authorities pretend not to notice it and focus on defense, discuss all sorts of weapons for the Moldovan army, including unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, small arms, military equipment, artillery systems, etc., in addition to missile defense elements. A logical question arises: Why is it so? My colleagues and I have written many times that the current rapid militarization of the country may be a harbinger of war on the Dniester. But there is another version, which, however, does not contradict the first one. So, what is the alpha and omega for the ruling party? European integration itself. As it is expected, the negotiations about Moldova's accession to the European Union will be started this year. The power sees the republic as an EU member as early as 2030. This will require the fulfillment of a whole bunch of recommendations and conditions to align the country with European standards. In theory, the defense sector remains a private matter of each member (or candidate) country to the European Union, and there are no requirements for it. But that’s how it used to be. Now we see how the EU-NATO relations model is changing. One of the consequences of the Ukrainian conflict has been the de-sovereignization of Europe, which has many times increased its dependence on the United States, especially militarily. And this is almost explicitly stated in the joint declaration on cooperation signed by the heads of the European Council and the European Commission, on the one hand, and by the NATO Secretary General, on the other. In fact, the two organizations are merging in the security and defense area, which is very important for NATO. One could, of course, argue that not all EU members are NATO members. At first glance, this is true. Until February 24 last year, six states of the Union existed outside the Alliance: Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Cyprus, Austria and Malta. All of them professed neutrality, just like Moldova. But this status is in most cases very conditional, which has become apparent over the past year. After all, Finland and Sweden instantly wanted to join NATO after the Russian invasion (even though nobody threatened them): The former is already there, and the latter is still at odds with Turkey, but Stockholm would certainly find itself in the Alliance's ranks in the future. Ireland, too, is about to hold public consultations on giving up neutrality and joining NATO. Moreover, this country, like Austria and Malta (where neutrality is also becoming a debatable issue), is taking part in the Alliance's Partnership for Peace program. Things are a bit more complicated with Cyprus, which has tensions with Turkey over the northern part of the island. However, this country, in particular, provides space for British military bases, quite an influential NATO member. As we can see, the “era of European neutrality” is coming to an end. And this can be seen live also on the example of our own country, as it is also encouraged to renounce its neutral status. All of Europe is pulled together so that each member of the EU (and those who seek to get there) could contribute to collective security (increasing expenditures to the NATO’s platinum 2% of GDP) and participate to the best of their ability in geopolitical conflicts waged by the West. And this, of course, will be done only through NATO. All the ideas of a united European army and self-defense of the borders seem to have finally sunk into oblivion. So it turns out that if Moldova wants to join the EU, it will have to focus on its defense sector in any case and invest the last money there, as long as we are in the forefront of the fight against the ‘Russian aggressor’. This explains everything - all the visits of high-ranking Western military officials to our country, the participation of Minister of Defense Nosatii in the ‘Ramsteins’ and NATO events, joining the EU military mobility project, as well as sending Moldovan contingents to the NATO exercises. For example, a few days ago, the largest U.S.-led Defender-23 drills started, that will last almost two months. A record number of armored vehicles and other weapons have been moved to Europe for this training. Do you think Moldova was invited to take part in this action? The answer, of course, is yes. It would certainly be fair of the authorities to tell people the truth about what is written in small letters in the “contract on European integration”. But that will never happen, of course. It is funny that we have still a long way to go before we join the EU, but we have already been involved in the conflict on the side of the West. I mean, anti-Russian sanctions, giving up energy resources from the Russian Federation, etc. All this has already backfired against our country as a whole putting financial burden on almost every resident of the country. And this is just the beginning...