People’s Christian Democratic Party regards the time factor as a very pressing one. To find a right place in the future European architecture, the state has to undertake an energetic European offensive to persuade its European partners of the seriousness of Moldova’s European commitments. Our membership of the Community of Independent States (CIS), as well as the intention of our current government to integrate Moldova into the Russia-Belarus Union are insurmountable barriers in the way of our joining the EU. Our chances to join the EU depend, decisively, on our capacity to align with a group of countries in the South East European region. Association to this group of states involves abandoning the group of states in which Moldova is currently included, together with Belarus and Ukraine, these two states being dominated by serious problems that should not affect our country’s pace of European integration. Surprisingly, these proposals of the Christian democrats are explicit in the positions of our current government. Yet, unlike the authorities, the PCDP, along with the Liberal Party, remind that the current geopolitical context and our strategic interests oblige Moldova to take into account the existent complementarity between the EU and NATO. It is necessary for the state to become aware of the logic underpinning the eastern enlargement of the two organisations. Moldova needs to go the same way that the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe have gone, for which joining NATO was initially a determinant factor in their later efforts at joining the EU. To accomplish this objective, Moldova will have to give up its permanent neutrality status, which is “an out of date and inefficient principle of defending national security. The NATO military dimension should not be a pretext for Moldova’s withdrawal from its Euro-Atlantic integration”.
Liberal Party believes that Moldova is an integral part of the European cultural space and the main effort in safeguarding a natural place in the European architecture is integration — unequivocal — in the European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
The Social Democratic Alliance of Moldova is a proponent of integration into the European structures and at the same time opts for maintaining traditional relations between Moldova and the countries to its East. European Integration in no way contravenes or rule out the continuation and enhancement of relations between Moldova and the CIS states. Contacts and relations with the Euro-Atlantic structures, first of all NATO, are to be oriented “towards consolidating stability and global peace, with the necessary respect for the country’s neutrality”.
Believing that joining the EU is for Moldova a strategic objective, the Social Democratic Party “in no way approves of moving our relations with the CIS partners in the background”. They are “firmly convinced that the inefficiency of this community in relation to the initial expectations is largely due to the passivity of the governments in the member states, the lack of initiative and insistence in promoting mutually advantageous co-operation. This is also true of the Moldovan authorities who have failed to apply a strategy of developing economic and political co-operation in the CIS, that would have brought outstanding results to our country”.
Movement “Ravnopravie” (Equality of rights) will strive for enhancing and expanding economic and cultural relations with the CIS member states and first of all with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Party of Communists of Moldova will “safeguard Moldova’s active participation in the integration processes in the CIS and European areas and within the international economic structures.”
One can thus mention an extremely wide range of geopolitical options of our parties. The liberals and Christian democrats have spoken of the need to reconsider the membership of our country in the CIS, and the European and Euro-Atlantic integration are presented as the two alternatives to our CIS membership. The social democrats in the Parliament (SDAM) and those outside it (SDPM), do not see any contradiction in terms between our membership of the CIS and the EU. They remain extremely concerned with the neutrality of Moldova and in their programmes they pledge for joining NATO, although lately their visions has evolved substantially, and they have been talking of the need for closer co-operation with the North Atlantic Alliance. More to the left, the Democratic Party and the CPM do not even consider talking about an eventual joining of NATO but rather of a natural complementarity between the European Union and the CIS, while the “Ravnopravie” (Equality of rights) Movement simply ignores the united Europe.
It seems that the communist leaders at the rule of the state are tempted to adopt a pragmatic behaviour, understanding that at present Moldova has no viable alternative to European integration. The ruling party has two wings: one busy with the administration of the state and the other — with disputing the decisions of the former. The division between the two is nuanced, it is more visible sometimes, at other times the same people pass easily from the administrative action, more or less responsible, to the rhetoric of dispute. This double doctrine and behaviour explain the virulent discourse of the current government. It is not by chance that the turn towards the European rhetoric is presented as premiere at national scale. The leaders of the anti-system party, integrally in opposition before the February 2001 elections, under pressure from the internal and regional configuration, have changed direction and have denied everything that was done before then on the issue of European integration. Declaring their commitment to the European option, the leaders of the CPM have been demolishing the institutions of the state, such as the local autonomy and the institution of prefect, tailored by the model and with the support of Europe. It is true that the more realistic wing in the party gains more ground, yet the communist leaders who follow the communist practices make use of the language of dispute, while the society has started to get used to this double message. The fact that the party of communists overall has not changed its line and has not made public its position on the issue of European integration is due to the hidden power and weight of the opposing wing, as well as to the traditional obedience of the communists towards the old metropolis. The chair of the CPM, who is also president of the country, has never raised frankly before his party colleagues the need for re-orienting the programme of the party, probably in order to avoid the risk of damaging his image in the party circles but of breaking the unity of the party. As a result, the administration promotes an alternative policy, declared pro-European, which to a certain extent takes into account the domestic realities and in particular the rapport of forces on the continent, but which presupposes a visible autarchic touch, one of relying on local resources and the structures inherited from the Soviet period. Clearly, the 2002 initiative when the Head of State pushed for European integration, was a manifestation of the prevalence of the more realistic wing. Due to pressure from opposition parties and the society on the whole, the favourable international conditions and, apparently, their analysis, the spontaneous support by the communists of European integration will gain more ground. For the time being, we are witnessing an obvious paradox. While European integration becomes a real national idea for Moldova, enjoying the overwhelming support of the population, as has shown in all polls conducted recently, this idea seems to irremediably divide the ruling party. It could lead even to a split in the CPM, especially if the issue of European integration passes from declarations to practical politics, and especially if the leadership of the state faces the sacramental dilemma of the communists — either the EU or the CIS. The quicker Moldova advances on the way to European integration, the more the internal conflict in the CPM will aggravate and closer the day of final dispute between the moderate and the tougher wings will be. In the short term, this internal dispute will have a certain impact on managing the process of European integration, as apart from important state tasks, the current leadership will have to face a powerful current from inside the party, which will dispute the legitimacy of the European option.
The stake that the ruling party has put on denying the impact that the opposition parties had and might have is counter-productive to the process of European integration. Permanently facing the pro-European parties, and neglecting the initiatives of the opposition, marring their significance and maintaining in the centre of public debates many of the themes of the past, the communists have weakened the cohesion of the society in view of achieving the objective of European integration. By limiting the access of other parties to the state media with national coverage the ruling party has narrowed the social basis for the process of European integration. On the other hand, the chronic weakness of the opposition has reduced substantially the chances that its pro-European proposals be heard, understood and supported by the society. Other parties have newspapers with limited circulation and this has seriously undermined the media effect of their pro-European line. The opposition parties, with few exceptions, do not have special departments working on programmes and projects of European integration, and the issue is dealt with by their foreign policy experts or spokespersons. The parties’ strategies of communication with the society, intended to generalise and permanentise the European option, are most often incoherent and improperly articulated. The level of preparation for the process of European integration must be measured by the agenda of debates and reflections proposed by the political parties on the issue of European integration. We would like to mention here the initiative of the Christian democrats to hold a referendum on the issue of joining the EU and NATO, the initiative of the Liberal Party to set up the Round Table with Permanent Status, the proposal by the participants to the Round Table, addressed to President Voronin, to set up a National Commission for drafting a new strategy of European integration, the conferences organised by the Social-Liberal Party, the actions of the Alliance of Independents aimed at promoting democracy and local autonomy, the fostering of relations between the Moldovan political parties with European political parties.
The opposition parties are for the time being few, many competent specialists avoid joining their ranks, and those already in participate in groups holding rivalling interests. Thus, parties lack the necessary intellectual input for articulating a profound and detailed message. The need for every important party to work out an operational model of European integration is dictated by the imperative of good governance. The Liberal Party, for example, believes that we need “a new political thinking and practice, according to which safeguarding general well being may not be through of without the well being of every citizen”. The model of society for which the democratic parties plead involves a series of policies and actions which have not been finalised to date. The opposition parties are fragmented, organisationally weak and lack the financial means to wage an intensive media offensive. As a result, they focus their efforts primarily in the sphere of immediate politics and of improving their current image in order to increase their electoral chances and are less concerned about developing concrete programmes and viable alternatives. They do not have political, economic and ideological programmes that would be complex, detailed and rigorously drafted for the neighbourhood with the EU, the pre-accession period, the negotiation stages and the accession to the EU.