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Sergiu CEBAN
There is a strong feeling that the country’s leadership is desperately trying to resist rather unpleasant scenarios, which are either realized from outside or arise spontaneously as a result of a series of circumstances
The elections have already become the centerpiece of other developments that not only gradually warm up the internal political situation but also help reach a certain temperature. So far, there have been no notable events around the presidential race, as the main competitors have chosen a wait-and-see approach. Among them are those in the headquarters of the incumbent head of state for whom it is crucial to know their real sparring partner. The choice of any electoral strategy largely depends on this. Given the fact that individual political forces are going to nominate their own representatives, it seems that no agreement on a common opposition candidate has been reached. This unties the hands of Igor Dodon, for whom the current authorities are smoothly paving the way to the CEC. Amidst discord in the opposition, the president’s political technologists continue to set up various political structures and temporary alliances (for example, the bloc to which CUB has already joined). Their goal is to create an image of support for a single pro-European candidate, i.e. Maia Sandu. It is likely that micro parties are hoping to cling to her ratings and in case of victory to boost their chances of getting into parliament next year. Initially lofty, now the discourse about the European integration referendum are beginning to take on a more down-to-earth and even cautious tone not only in the expert community, but also among those in authority. Cristina Gherasimov, the main Moldovan negotiator with Brussels on EU integration, admitted that there are different views on the foreign policy course in the society, therefore the failure of the plebiscite and, consequently, the suspension/termination of negotiations with the European Union is quite possible. European officials also have certain doubts. By the way, European ambassador Janis Mazeiks openly admits that Brussels will be disappointed, but will respect the decision of citizens if they do not support the country’s accession to the EU at the referendum. The number of rallies and protest moods among various social groups continues to grow. Transport carriers, Gagauz and other disgruntled citizens are beginning to join the most high-profile actions of agrarians who blocked national highways. As a result, the government is forced to quell hotbeds of discontent and listen to unflattering remarks about itself. The fact that the farmers have partially achieved their goals through radical measures will obviously push others to use similar pressure levers and disrupt the logistical and other functions of the state. If this becomes a mass phenomenon, absolutely uncontrollable and volatile ramifications might follow. It would be surprising if Moldovan politicians did not try to hitch a ride on the protest mainstream and further tease the dissatisfied public. Thus, Our Party leader Renato Usatii announced a protest on 13 March and urged all indifferent citizens to join. It will take place near the Central Court, where a complaint against the retroactive reduction of gas tariffs will be considered. At the same time, Usatii does not plan to hold the protest together with other political formations and promises to provide transport for all those from different districts who want to come to the capital and express their discontent over high tariffs. On the one hand, that is a good cause, but all signs point to the fact that this is how Balti ex-mayor plans to join the election race for the presidential seat. A seemingly ordinary event in Tiraspol, which eventually became a media bomb not only in the information field of Moldova, but also in neighboring countries, proved to be completely unexpected. In 2022, interest towards the Transnistrian region somehow subdued. Now another outburst, first of all in the Western media, becomes another serious problem for our authorities, for whom it is important to distract international attention from the Transnistrian issue, allowing to implement their own settlement plan step by step. The media hype is not as perilous as the intensification of various external factors that can derail all of Chisinau’s plans. This is exemplified by the statements of NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, who said that the alliance will support Moldova if the “integration” process of the Transnistrian region into the Russian Federation starts. How exactly the bloc plans to support our country remains a mystery, but given NATO’s profile, it is unlikely that the assistance will be able to ensure the national and territorial unity of the Moldovan state. The aggravating situation in Moldova obviously provokes concern in Washington, which is one of the main moderators of regional processes. Apparently, in order to temper the fervor and make the necessary adjustments, a delegation headed by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Smith was urgently dispatched to Moldova, including a visit to the left bank. The hurried visit of Oleg Serebrian, deputy prime minister for reintegration, to Bucharest is not accidental, too. In addition to meetings with top Romanian officials, he plans to make a presentation of the situation in the negotiation process to the heads of diplomatic missions. Obviously, Moldova’s official will have other meetings in the Romanian capital, the content of which will probably be known later. However, the very fact of such a visit triggers not only various intrigues and speculative comments, but also reasonable questions: why in Bucharest, and what Chisinau is trying to convey to diplomats accredited in Romania that cannot be relayed through foreign ambassadors in Moldova. There is a strong feeling that our country and leadership are desperately trying to resist scenarios that are either realized from outside or appear spontaneously as a result of a series of circumstances. Unfortunately, some external players manage to carefully and successfully heat up the situation inside and around Moldova with appropriate effects in the run-up to the most important political events – the referendum on European integration and the presidential elections. Whatever the motives of these actors, they are unlikely to lead Moldova to a positive finale, and the country may fall into another “perfect storm” with extremely dire ramifications.