Today 17 February 2019, Sunday - Last updated at ora 07:56
Abonamente

News 16 October 2015, at 09:56

Moldova: Bogged down between Russia and Europe

Marime Font

After the war broke out in Eastern Ukraine, many observers in Europe held the EU at least partly responsible. Political realists in the West, led by Henri Kissinger and John Mearsheimer, have put at least a part of the blame for Russia`s belligerence on the West.

They argued, that Washington and Brussels should have consulted more with Russia about its plans for expansion, including EU`s 2009 Eastern Partnership program.

The “issues paper” prepared by the EU foreign policy apparatus in January also suggested establishing “a level of engagement” with Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. Despite a rebuke from both the US and European policy buffs, such statements created a general feeling that the Western policymakers are considering a degree of shared influence over the Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine - with Russia. The European leaders might not see it as a best-case scenario, but as a probable outcome of the current tensions.


Moldova is the archetype of what a “shared” space could look like. And it is neither happy nor stable.

For many years, Moldova oscillated in its political choices. But in the mid-2000’s, the President and Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin started to turn more decidedly towards the West. This choice became clearer in July 2009, with the formation of the Alliance for European Integration. In May 2013, when the governing coalition fell apart, the Pro-European Coalition was voted into office. In June 2014, Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU. One would have thought that the decision to approach Europe was final.

But declarations and signatures aside, the oligarchs leading the Pro-European Coalition seem eminently comfortable in the grey zone between Russia and the EU.

“[MP Vladimir] Plahotniuc, [ex-PM Vlad] Filat and others - our oligarchs who are running the country, say they are pro-European. But they don’t want Moldova to be fully ruled by European standards. They carefully follow what’s going on in Romania, our closest neighbour, and they see that former high officials are on trial for corruption [there]. Even the current Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta, was indicted in mid-September. [This can happen] in Bucharest, because the Prosecutor’s Office is now independent and hardworking. In Chisinau, the judicial system is under the control of Vlad Plahotniuc”, says Igor Boţan, a well-known Moldovan political analyst and civil activist.

The firm grip that the oligarchs have on justice system extends the National Bank. Earlier this year, the government allowed the National Bank to cover up the theft of 1 billion USD – a staggering 12 percent of Moldova’s annual GDP - under the carpet. The amount disappeared from Moldova`s three major banks in a series of murky loans made last May. The sum had to be reimbursed from the state coffers to prevent the collapse of the banking system. To date, no one has been prosecuted. Media investigations, like the one published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in 2014, suggest the national banking system has been shaped in the last two decades to launder dirty Russian money.

Moldovans are angry. In an opinion poll fielded by the Center for Sociological Investigations CBS-AXA in mid-September, 87% said the country is going in the wrong direction. “I never saw that in my career,” says Arcadie Barbăroşie, a political analyst and director of the Institute for Public Policy (IPP). Barbăroşie thinks that while the rejection of the political class nearly universal, Moldovans still support the pro-European path. He argues that the field is clear for a new political force.

Indeed, up to 50 thousand gathered in the center of Chisinau on September 6 responding to the call of the civic platform “Dignity and Truth” (“Demnitate şi Adevăr”, now known as DA). They called for the resignation of President Nicolae Timofta and for early general elections, their main slogan was “Let’s bring the country back to the people!” A plethora of tents emerged in front of the government office and demonstrations were held every Sunday. Eventually, the crowd dwindled, partly due to lack of money to sustain the protests and partly because no vocal leaders emerged from the spontaneous protest.

“The irresponsible governance of our political leaders made a pro-EU success story a failure... Now only about 30 percent of the population are pro-EU, while 75 percent were five years ago,” says Igor Boţan, one of the DA founders.

The banking scandal shook Moldova`s politics to the core, but for now confusion and disappointment for the population have been its only outcomes. In Chisinau, Western diplomats are trying hard to keep the Pro-European Coalition alive. They ask for the prosecution of those responsible for the banking scandals. The IMF and EU suspended new loans and financial support until the government cleans up its act.

But the government is ignoring both the street protestors’ and the Western diplomats’ demands. The oligarchs have their own, compelling reasons for resisting the European pull. Transparency demanded by the Western actors is fundamentally at odds with the opaque deals characteristic for the shared space of interlinked economic and political interests with Russia.

Mr. Platonhiuc who generated part of his wealth in Romania, is considered the most influential man in Moldovan politics. For him, following the European advice means exposing the murky deals between the Moldovan and Russian politicians/businessmen. This would create trouble at home, and risk destabilizing the governing coalition, which balances the interests of Mr. Platonhiuc’s Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) with those of Vlad Filat’s Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PDLM) precariously. The two parties are natural allies in their pro-EU aspirations, but the two leaders compete bitterly for leadership.

“This mess could end with the pro-Russian forces coming to the government,” Barbăroşie says. On September 27, Igor Dodon`s Socialists and Renato Usatii’s Our Party - two parties widely seen as pro-Russian – set their tents just 300 meters away from those of DA. With an estimated 15 to 20 thousand protesters under their red and blue banners, the two parties tried to wrestle the initiative from DA.

“Dodon and Usatii are just followers in this protest,” says an adviser of an influential member of the parliament from the governing coalition, who asked to remain anonymous due to sensitivity of his position. He says the two “can potentially become big beneficiaries of [the popular] anger,” but argues their action is a show of strength rather than a grab for power – at least for now. He also says that while Mr. Dodon and Mr. Usatii are protesting against Plahotniuc`s influence, by dissipating the protest momentum of DA, they seem to be playing into the oligarch’s hands.

“One thing is sure,” says the anonymous advisor, “We will stay in the swamp between Russia and EU for a long time.”

Régis Genté is based in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has been covering politics in the post-Soviet space for Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Le Figaro since 2002.

civil.ge

blog comments powered by Disqus

Din aceeaşi secţiune

Cele mai noi ştiri de azi

News 11 February 2019, at: 20:36

Before the fear of being blown up on a plane, or a train, or a sidewalk gave millions of people sleepless nights, before the threat of global climate disaster stirred dread, nuclear annihilation was the stuff of nightmares.

( ) Read all

News 10 February 2019, at: 12:36

  A significant event took place in the history of Georgia on 24 August 1995- the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Constitution of Georgia. The Constitution enshrines the will to establish a democratic, and Rule of Law based social state, to enhance the state independence and peaceful...

( ) Read all

News 7 February 2019, at: 21:09

 A total of 334 deputies of 385 registered at the session hall have supported the law.

( ) Read all

News 7 February 2019, at: 17:20

The New York Times: The Putin I Knew; the Putin I Know

The New York Times: The Putin I Knew; the Putin I Know

 I met Vladimir Putin and trusted him in the early 1990s, when he was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. Now that he’s Russia’s president, he’s different. He’s no friend of democracy.

( ) Read all

News 31 January 2019, at: 20:54

 At a Monday press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, the Ukrainian Security Agency (SBU) announced that it had intercepted passenger manifests from Russian MoD-chartered airliners transporting mercenaries working for Wagner, a Russian private military company (PMC). The manifests, involving...

( ) Read all

News 28 January 2019, at: 15:00

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the building of controversial Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is linked to the fate of her country’s coal industry, Yahoo Finance reported.

( ) Read all

News 26 January 2019, at: 19:04

 Walking my dog recently, early on a dark January morning, I noticed a light from a window on the ground floor of the school near my home. I took a peek inside. Somebody was preparing the classroom for a technology education lesson, or what we call in this part of the world a “labor...

( ) Read all

News 2 December 2018, at: 20:45

 Russian president says it is ‘too early’ in investigation to consider a prisoner swap and accuses Ukraine government of provocation

( ) Read all

News 30 November 2018, at: 18:05

In response to a request for interim measures in the context of a new inter-State application lodged by the Government of Ukraine against the Russian Federation under Article 33 (Inter-State cases) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Right has put factual...

( ) Read all

News 29 November 2018, at: 21:06

 The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, on behalf of the Cabinet of Ministers, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the protection of Ukrainian sailors captured by the Russian Federation.

( ) Read all

News 27 November 2018, at: 13:49

 Following a Russian attack on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian Parliament has greenlighted a decision to impose martial law in nearly half of the country. On 26 November, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted to impose martial law in 10 Oblasts of Ukraine for 30 days...

( ) Read all

News 20 November 2018, at: 17:09

On Sunday, delegates of the general assembly of Interpol — the International Criminal Police Organization, the coordinating body for law enforcement from 192 countries — met in Dubai for their 87th annual session. The most important agenda item will come on the final day: on...

( ) Read all

News 14 November 2018, at: 07:20

A Romanian man was surprised to find 95,000 euros ($107,000) stashed inside a secondhand cupboard he’d bought — and promptly returned the money.

( ) Read all

News 8 November 2018, at: 14:29

"First of all I want to mention what my colleagues from commission told me. They said that commission hearing was canceled because of Maia Sandu, who is abroad, required to cancel this hearing, because she is participating at a Congress of Popular European Party at Helsinki if I'm not wrong....

( ) Read all

News 29 October 2018, at: 11:59

Russian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before the 2016 U.S. election

Russian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before the 2016 U.S. election

 KIEV, Ukraine — In the spring of 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was desperate for Mark Zuckerberg’s help. His government had been urging Facebook to stop the Kremlin’s spreading of misinformation on the social network to foment distrust in his new...

( ) Read all

News 23 October 2018, at: 07:23

  Staunton, October 22 – Despite the fact that Ukraine’s Orthodox church is about to be granted autocephaly and ever more people in Belarus are expressing hope that their country will be the next to escape from under the yoke of the Moscow Patriarchate, few have paid...

( ) Read all

News 19 October 2018, at: 08:19

 WASHINGTON — Russians working for a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin are engaging in an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the American midterm elections next month, federal prosecutors said on Friday in unsealing charges against a woman...

( ) Read all

News 18 October 2018, at: 15:14

 Poland’s government has asked the Constitutional Tribunal to rule whether European Union law supersedes national legislation, escalating a standoff with the bloc over the rule of law.

( ) Read all

News 11 October 2018, at: 21:35

  STRASBOURG, FRANCE

( ) Read all

News 11 October 2018, at: 09:56

 'I don't understand why the press, the political establishment and the public are so reluctant to call out what the Russians have been doing,' says former first lady.

( ) 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)