How EU and Moldovan Farmers Have Become Hostages to Geopolitics

Home / Analytics / How EU and Moldovan Farmers Have Become Hostages to Geopolitics
Anton ŠVEC
The “grain issue” splits societies in the EU countries bordering on the warring Ukraine and beyond. However, while Europe is hit by a growing number of farmer protests, Moldova has virtually eliminated agrarian protests due to the efforts of local tame oppositionists
We have repeatedly written about the “political constraints” of the protest activity of the Farmers’ Power Association and its inability to effectively protect agricultural interests. Alexandru Slusari is personally responsible for ensuring that the discontent of agricultural producers does not provoke serious problems for the current regime, and, consequently, spare the latter the need to respond. The protest intensity has almost faded after the decision to start negotiations on accession to the European Union, which is fully in line with the political outlook of the former vice-chair of the Dignity and Truth Platform. Slusari personally switched to the issue of Transnistrian separatism, favoring the extension of restrictions against the economy of the region. In fact, the association and its head today serve the interests of the authorities and Maia Sandu personally, since such loyalty is demanded by the Western curators in the current situation. Given the state of global and regional turbulence and increased conflict potential, the internal political stability of the current regime remains a key factor in maintaining the influence of the US, EU and Romania and using Moldova as a bridgehead to contain Russia and support Ukraine. This support, contrary to the formally neutral status of the country, is becoming more and more evident, acquiring quite specific logistical and military elements. And, of course, radical anti-Russian politicians play by the established rules, putting geopolitics above the interests of the republic’s agriculture. However, the European continent as a whole has a slightly different perception of the situation. Germany cancelled some subsidies for agricultural producers, which resulted in several days of large-scale protests with the use of agricultural machinery and blocking of roads and city centers. The main demand is that tax breaks for diesel purchases should not be cancelled. The German federal government is using the savings to support Ukraine’s armed forces in an attempt to replace US aid, where Congress is blocking approval of another multibillion-dollar package for Kyiv. Berlin has also increased spending to support democracy, refugees and gender equality around the world, fueling greater discontent among the local middle class, including farmers. While Germans are blocking central squares in a number of cities and the border with Poland, the strike involves hundreds of farmers across the country, and with them agrarians from Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and elsewhere. Social surveys show that up to 70% of the German population support the farmers’ strike. There is support from certain political forces, some protesters are already calling for the resignation of the Scholz-led government. Farmers’ protests have also started in Romania. Last week large vehicles blocked border crossing points with Ukraine and national highways several times. Strikes took place in large cities such as Cluj. After negotiations with government officials, there was hope that the situation would be resolved, but only after the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance expressed their willingness to accept a number of the protesters’ demands. These include toughening the rules for the transit of Ukrainian agricultural products and fighting against schemes to re-export Ukrainian goods to Romania under the cover of Bulgarian and Moldovan documents. The rally organizers accuse the authorities of failing to govern the country and threaten that if their calls are ignored, the protest will continue indefinitely. So far, protests tend to expand involving more and more cities and farmer associations, checkpoints are blocked even on the border with Moldova, and there are demands to ban not only the import but also the transit of Ukrainian grain through Romania. In Poland, Donald Tusk’s globalist government, which has recently come to power, is focused on domestic political squabbles and criminal cases, as well as fighting right-wing President Andrzej Duda and gaining control of the state media. Therefore, agricultural strikes have been temporarily put on pause, especially given the new government’s pro-Ukrainian course. However, we cannot speak of a complete cessation of protest sentiments, especially in view of possible problems with the maritime export of Ukrainian grain. Meanwhile, Moldova actually stands out amid the regional trend remaining open to the supply and transit of Ukrainian grain and agricultural goods, and even providing a discount for its transport via Moldovan railways. The situation in the economy is close to critical – prices are rising, foreign investments are down by 40%, grant funds have significantly decreased, while the government is forced to spend more and more budget money to service previously taken loans. Despite the relatively favorable situation with energy and electricity purchases, there is a huge budget shortage exacerbated by the constant increase in defense, security and bureaucratic costs. As a result, infrastructure projects and social programs are being cancelled, educational and healthcare institutions are being closed down en masse, and pensions along with salaries of public sector employees are not being indexed at the appropriate level. There is almost no money to support the agricultural sector, despite earlier allocations of European Union funds, the targeted use of which is seriously questioned. There have been repeated reports that the resources received from Brussels are being distributed among farmers close to the current political regime. The Moldova Support Platform, which attracted significant capital at the first two meetings, has not met for quite some time. Under such circumstances, the prospects for farmers remain worrying, but the government is not particularly concerned about this, as it has assurances of near-zero protest potential, both from the Farmers’ Power Association and their shared supervisors. It is doubtful whether any other force will take over the banner of agricultural protest, given the policy of the current government, which is clearly not in the farmers’ interests. Most likely, the current situation will result in a wave of bankruptcies, layoffs and business shutdowns. After all, in all Eastern European countries, membership in the European Union was accompanied by deindustrialization and reduced social spending.