Today 25 April 2019, Thursday - Last updated at ora 18:30
Abonamente

Opinion / Editorial 18 May 2014, at 14:12

Moldova's Europhile aspirations(OPINION) Moldova is running away from Russia, but at what cost?

Marime Font

Tbilisi and Chisinau, the Georgian and Moldovan capitals, have been the stage of intense diplomatic activity over the last few weeks.

Both countries are eagerly monitoring the evolution of the Ukrainian crisis as they too are implementing a historical transition from traditional Russian influence to Europhile aspirations, balancing between a majority pro-European population and active pro-Russian minorities.

At the Vilnius summit last November, Georgia and Moldova signed agreements on political association and free trade with the European Union - the very partnership that then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected before being forced out of power by a series of popular uprisings on the streets of Kiev. This was a blunt and potentially self-destructive move by the Georgian and Moldovan political elites as it reduced their margins of manoeuvre both domestically and internationally.


Domestically, both countries have had to undertake significant reforms to satisfy European demands like cracking down on local corruption. Those policies are instrumental in the sustainable development of both countries, however, they sparked discontent among the local population.

The macroeconomic stability demanded by their European partners requires the end of populist measures and bureaucratic hurdles to which their population had become accustomed. In Moldova especially, the liberal coalition in power faces crucial parliamentary elections next fall in which it could very well pay the price of these domestic reforms. Indeed, polls suggest that the pro-Russian communist party and the liberal coalition would be almost at a tie.

Exogenous threats

The second set of renewed threats is exogenous and linked to the Russian reaction to this pro-European slide. If the dozens of European flags flying on Georgian administrative buildings are anything to go by, they will not be of any help if Russian President Vladimir Putin turns his eyes again towards Tbilisi. This explains why, earlier this month, Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania provoked considerable controversy during a conference in Washington DC, by suggesting that NATO anti-airstrike defence missiles could be deployed on Georgian soil to protect his country's sovereignty and warn Russia against further military intervention.

While firmly condemning the events in the "Eastern Republic of Ukraine", authorities in Tbilisi have regularly made the case that "Russian destabilisation" should be considered as a methodically designed Russian policy towards its neighbours. In the eyes of Tbilisi, the seizing of Crimea and turmoil in east Ukraine are nothing more than the second phase of a carefully planned Russian strategy to regain control over former Soviet territory, six years after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war that saw two Georgian republics drift away from Tbilisi's control: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In the same vein, Moldova fears a duplication of the Crimean scenario within its own borders. On March 18, the president of the parliament of the separatist province of Transnistria officially called his Russian counterpart to initiate legal steps towards the annexation of the Moldovan territory.

As in Crimea, this appeal is popular among a local population fuelled by distrust towards the elected authorities in Chisinau. Even if it was not recognised by the vast majority of the international community, the local referendum held in 2006 in this 50km-wide strip of land stuck between Moldova and Ukraine, showed decisive popular support, 97 percent, for a reattachment to Russia.

A key difference however resides in the fact that Russians have always been a minority in Transnistria, representing a third of the population of the province. Support for the referendum could mostly be explained by the still unachieved reconciliation after the 1990-1992 civil war in the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a latent rejection of Romanian influence in domestic Moldovan affairs, and of the widespread corruption among the liberal elites in Chisinau.

Identical remedies?

In any case, if from a European perspective the diagnosis is different for both countries - exogenous Russian threat in Georgia and domestic institutional failure in Moldova - the remedy is identical. The EU needs to step up and provide additional support to both countries as their local populations have, until now, mostly seen the strains of reforms without witnessing any of their fruits.

Since the signing of the partnership agreements, European leaders have demonstrated increased interest, multiplying the visits to Chisinau and Tbilisi. The joint visit to both cities - for the first time in 25 years - of the French and German foreign ministers, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, finally showed the good intentions of Europe's major powers after the Russians declared an embargo on Moldovan wine. Similarly, French President Francois Hollande's speech in Tbilisi on May 13, a week after the visit of Georgian President of the Parliament Davit Oussoupachviliin to Paris, sent a clear message that Georgia's future was clearly geared towards the EU.

However, good intentions are worthless if they are not transformed into concrete action. If the new visa regime awarded by the EU last month - allowing Moldovan citizens to travel freely within the European Union - is a step in the right direction, it still looks grim compared to Moscow's recent decision to award full citizenship to any Russian speaker in the former Soviet space.

The EU needs to invest more in both economies. It has started to do so by financing a 7 million euro ($9.6m) pipeline to break Moldovan dependency on Russian gas and link its energy grid with Romanian supplies. But this might very well be too little too late if the Moldovan population does not register a palpable improvement to their economy following the opening of European markets.

Although the Moldovan poverty rate decreased from 30 percent of the population in 2006 to 16.6 percent in 2012, it remains the least developed country on the European continent with a GDP per capita of only $3,400. The EU already fell short of expectations with Ukraine when six months ago it offered a laughable envelope of 610 million euros ($835m) when Yanukovich was lobbying for a 20 billion euro ($27bn) aid package.

If Brussels fails to show generosity again, the political treasury in Moldova and the security equation in Georgia will definitely tip to the Russian side.

Remi Piet is Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Diplomacy and International Political Economy at Qatar University.

Sursa: Aljazeera.com


blog comments powered by Disqus

Din aceeaşi secţiune

Cele mai noi ştiri de azi

News 15 April 2019, at: 10:25

The radio station brought to light Victor Josu, a pro-Russian who is helped by Valeriu Pasat, the ex director of the Service of Information and Security to promote Russia's politics in Moldova. In 2010, Victor Josu was intensively supporting a further organization of a referendum to support the...

( ) Read all

News 12 April 2019, at: 04:44

Katie Bowman .. A Harvard girl who photographed the black hole

Katie Bowman .. A Harvard girl who photographed the black hole

 Katie Bowman, a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specialized in a very fine part of building complex and precise algorithms that could create images through a huge data stream of up to 5 million gigabytes, and then completed her specialization at...

( ) Read all

News 10 April 2019, at: 07:35

 Today's press conference of the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova, informally led by the Moldovan President, Igor Dodon, supports the suspicion that his undeclared and denied plan to place the country under Russian control exists and is still in motion.

( ) Read all

News 9 April 2019, at: 08:26

Time flies. 15 years have passed since Lithuania‘s accession to NATO. Once, NATO membership seemed completely out of Lithuania‘s reach. Today, we proudly consider ourselves to be experienced and reliable members of the Alliance.

( ) Read all

News 3 April 2019, at: 11:07

 Greek judge Linos Alexandros Sicilianos was elected as President of the European Court of Human Rights on Monday.

( ) Read all

News 3 April 2019, at: 10:56

 Romanian Finance Ministry to launch three Eurobond issuances, as first ever 30-year Eurobonds are included. Former PM Victor Ponta strongly criticized the measure.

( ) Read all

News 3 April 2019, at: 10:52

 Laura Codruța Kovesi was placed under judicial control, preventing her from leaving the country and talking to the press. Protests to support Kovesi were organized this weekend

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2019, at: 20:48

 When Benito Mussolini debuted the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, the precursor to his fascist party, on Mar. 23, 1919, in Milan, he wasn’t inventing the idea of violent authoritarianism. But he put a name on a new and terrible breed of it. Under his leadership, squads of militants...

( ) Read all

News 24 March 2019, at: 08:36

France’s Emmanuel Macron declared the “time of European naïveté” towards China was over as Xi Jinping was hosted with pomp in Rome for a visit that has alarmed both Brussels and Washington.

( ) Read all

News 22 March 2019, at: 19:39

 Almost 70 percent of the world’s most important economies is under the control of populist governments or non-democratic regimes, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Economics.

( ) Read all

News 20 March 2019, at: 07:33

On this day five years ago the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation adopted - over one night - the decision (opinion) that allowed for the annexation of a part of Ukrainian territory - the Crimean penninsula. Thus, the decision of 19 March 2014 contributed to the commission of an act of...

( ) Read all

News 19 March 2019, at: 06:41

 Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council

( ) Read all

News 18 March 2019, at: 16:41

 BUDAPEST — The International Investment Bank, an obscure Russian financial institution with a small-time balance sheet, is an unlikely source of global intrigue. In more normal times, its plans to open a new headquarters in Budapest would pass unnoticed.

( ) Read all

News 18 March 2019, at: 15:36

 The attack in New Zealand was inspired in part by the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, but the real threat is lone wolves lurking in the far corners of the Internet.

( ) Read all

News 15 March 2019, at: 12:55

 WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Keating (D-MA) introduced H.R. 1616, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act, to help both the United States and European countries attain global energy security while also encouraging a...

( ) Read all

News 14 March 2019, at: 18:20

 Note: Unless otherwise noted, all references in this report exclude the secessionist region of Transnistria.

( ) Read all

News 13 March 2019, at: 23:09

 The Constitutional Court on Feb. 26, 2019. The court abolished on Feb. 26, criminal liability for illegal enrichment, deciding that it violates the presumption of innocence.

( ) Read all

News 11 March 2019, at: 20:04

 Latvia has finished construction of the 93-kilometer-long section of the fence with the barbed wire on the border with Russia. Kristina Petersone, the press secretary of Latvian State Border Guard said that as quoted by Diena.

( ) Read all

News 11 March 2019, at: 08:21

 The restoration of Statehood Day, is a national holiday in Lithuania, and is always celebrated on March 11 in Lithuania. This public holiday is also known as Restoration of Independence Day.

( ) Read all

News 11 March 2019, at: 06:57

 Russia will be one third Muslim in a decade and a half, and the demographic trend is too far along to stop.

( ) Read all

News 8 March 2019, at: 08:05

 Russia's parliament has passed two bills outlawing "disrespect" of authorities and the spreading of what the government deems to be "fake news".

( ) Read all

News 5 March 2019, at: 08:52

 The arrest of an American businessman in Russia echoes the Khodorkovsky and Browder episodes from the early 2000s.

( ) Read all

News 2 March 2019, at: 17:57

 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed the introduction of a new anti-corruption law after the the country’s Constitutional Court annulled the president’s previous anti-graft bill, a move that raised both domestic and international concerns that the country is...

( ) Read all

News 2 March 2019, at: 07:30

 The Kremlin remains determined to establish itself as a hegemonic great power, and to follow the domestic as well as international priorities that have underpinned that objective since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012. But Russia’s wider public has become less...

( ) Read all

News 28 February 2019, at: 15:20

 The United States congratulates the people of Moldova, the Central Electoral Commission, and the winners in the February 24 parliamentary elections. We welcome the assessment by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and...

( ) Read all
Current tier / breakpoint: xs sm md lg xl (= visible only on this breakpoint)

.hidden-xs-down .hidden-sm-down .hidden-md-down .hidden-lg-down

.hidden-xs-up .hidden-sm-up .hidden-md-up .hidden-lg-up .hidden-xl

.hidden-xs (only) .hidden-sm (only) .hidden-md (only) .hidden-lg (only) .hidden-xl (only)