“Hot Diplomatic Summer of 2024”

Home / Reviews / “Hot Diplomatic Summer of 2024”
Sergiu CEBAN
The upcoming months will see a series of international events which will potentially have a decisive impact on the regional situation in the second half of the year
The presidential race gaining momentum is becoming increasingly visible every day. Yesterday, more than ten parties signed a common declaration called Pact for Europe in the National Museum of History. Thus, they decided to demonstrate the commitment of the major national political forces to the European integration course. And the next high-profile episode, to all appearances, will be today’s announcement by Ion Ceban of his participation/non-participation in the presidential election. The day before, he announced several statements to this effect after due consultations with his party colleagues. As we have repeatedly pointed out, capital mayor, who was re-elected to his position from the first round, may confuse all the maps for the “traditional” candidates and give the election campaign a somewhat different tone. Meanwhile, several international events will take place in the coming months, with a potentially decisive impact on the development of the regional situation in the second half of the year. Although it is obvious that the republic’s leadership will focus on the electoral situation, it is rather important not to lose track of events on the external perimeter. The emerging configuration there will have as much, if not more, significance and influence on how Moldova continues to pursue its course of internal modernization and European integration. This week will be marked by the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Chisinau, who last visited us more than two years ago, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now he is going to hold talks with the president and other high-ranking officials to reaffirm the US support for our country’s progress towards EU membership and energy security. However, we should take into account that Blinken will fly to our capital from Prague after an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers. According to statements by US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien, in Chisinau, the head of the Department of State will announce a new aid package for Moldova, which will cover its energy independence and support for democratic processes in the face of “Russian threats”. Then, by the end of the first decade of June, elections to the European Parliament will take place, which will inevitably entail administrative and political transformations within the EU. Romania plans to open 52 polling stations on Moldovan territory, where Romanian passport holders will be able to vote. Meanwhile, Chisinau will be anxiously watching the outcome of the EU-wide vote, which will determine whether Brussels will maintain its current Eastern European policy and whether Moldova will be able to successfully launch accession negotiations. The main challenges are the growing support for extreme right-wing parties ready to start renegotiating EU-NATO relations, the need to support Ukraine and the expediency of further confrontation with Russia. However, preliminary results of sociological surveys show that the largest parliamentary groups (the European People’s Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) have chances to maintain their positions and get approximately the same number of mandates as now. The main changes in the political spectrum are observed on the extreme flanks: while the far-left parties are suffering total defeat, the right and far-right parties are showing steady growth. Most likely, the Hungarian presidency will have a certain anti-systemic impact on the political processes within the European Union. From 1 July 2024, the EU Council will be headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is known for his Eurosceptic views, including on further enlargement of the Union. As a result, fears are mounting in Brussels that the Hungarian government will try to split the EU and focus only on those issues that meet Budapest’s own interests. The middle of June will be significantly rich in major international events. Firstly, the Italian region of Puglia will host the 50th G7 summit. The exact agenda of the event is not yet known, but the finance ministers of the G7 countries have said that they are ready to provide the leaders with options for possible loans to Ukraine. In addition, decisions on how to use the proceeds from frozen Russian assets, as well as new sanctions against Moscow’s sources of income, including the energy sector and Russia’s future production capacity, are being actively elaborated. Shortly after the G7, the peace summit in Switzerland, widely advertised by the Ukrainian authorities, is scheduled for 15-16 June. However, after the news that the leaders of the BRIC S countries and Joe Biden will not be there and that Volodymyr Zelensky’s original “peace formula” has been reduced to three minor points (nuclear security, freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and prisoner exchange), the upcoming event looks more like an extended workshop than a solid international conference. Apparently, the absence of the US president is the result of Antony Blinken’s not quite successful visit to Kyiv in May. As a result, the Swiss summit risks becoming an analogue of the Crimea Platform, that is, more of a ritual forum without concrete political ramifications. Zelensky will try to demonstrate the offensive potential of Ukrainian diplomacy as early as 6 June at the events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy. The summer “diplomatic counter-offensive” of 2024 is of the utmost importance for the Ukrainian leadership, which is quite aware of the political signals that the allies are pushing harder and harder to start negotiations. Kyiv therefore needs to secure the most favorable position possible before they start. The July anniversary NATO summit in Washington will be the cherry on the cake of all these events. So far, all indicators point to the fact that the alliance is not planning to take any radical and extraordinary decisions that would raise the confrontation with Moscow to a new round of the escalation. According to experts, this period of conditional lull may last until the end of the US presidential election. It will be a huge mistake for our politicians from the ruling party if they continue to rely entirely on themselves and the available opportunities for total control over the social and political life of Moldova. Sometimes everything happens unexpectedly, that is why they should keep on toes, despite the forthcoming summer “holiday” period. Over the next few months, global, pan-European and regional affairs will be at the center of painstaking diplomatic work. All this together will affect the international situation and set the tone for local processes in particular countries and regions. Of course, Blinken’s visit gives optimism to the leadership of our republic. But it does not guarantee that the situation will not get out of control and take a completely different path - or, much worse, according to the plan of external forces, which seek to reset Moldova politically.