Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

NATO is expanding, whereas Moldova… shrinking?

|print version||
Viorel Cibotaru / April 25, 2004
ADEPT logo
As it was to be expected, Moldova’s reactions to seven new states (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) joining on April 2 the North Atlantic Treaty were reserved and prudent (from authorities) and contemplative and imminent (from opposition and analysts alike). In fact Moldova’s stance was made public well before the event and was trivially covered by domestic media under the heading foreign festivities. In this respect, it is worth remembering majority faction’s response to NATO Parliamentary Assembly two months ago “given Moldova’s neutrality status as provided for in Constitution, … Moldova would never become (or may not become) a NATO member”. Still, it would be far more important to assess what’s really going on in Moldova once NATO “has reached already Prut river”.

Now the question is, where would the three Western former soviet republics of the Community of Independent States end up? On the one hand, elites in Ukraine and Moldova have reiterated on numerous occasions their intentions to join EU. On the other hand, Belarus speaks of unifying with Russia. The developments in the three countries would definitely affect regional security. In this respect, neither important Ukraine nor tiny Moldova stand a chance to keep good ties with the West, while their military forces and other “armed structures of the state” remain largely unreformed and while their conduct of security affairs continues to be characterized by a conspicuous lack of transparency.

As for Moldova, the inevitable question arises — what actions should be taken to reform security sector and raise its transparency? However, to answer that question one fact should be considered, i.e. Transdnistrian conflict is by far Moldova’s biggest challenge when it comes to security. In addition, one should not forget that as long as Russian Federation is supporting secessionist regimes, there is always the risk that Moldova, which has stepped on the path of European integration, would step out or even turn back.

Having said that, yet another question arises: what kind of military forces does Moldova really need? Supposedly, an answer is to be found in the 2002 Conception of Military Reform. However, uncertainty and bleak political development make it quite onerous to enforce the concept itself.

As part of a recent NOSTRUM project “Needs and Options for Security-Sector Transparency and Reform in Ukraine and Moldova” (NOSTRUM, for short), supported by Moldovan authorities and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and implemented jointly by the Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) in Netherlands and Institute for Public Policy of Moldova, foreign experts came up with a raft of recommendations — steps necessary to undertake on short and mid term.

What can Moldova do to escape this deadlock? One option is to wait and see how events unfold. This strategy would imply assessing regional security after NATO and EU enlargement, assessing the impact of Union’s ’wider Europe’ policy on Moldova’s strategic orientation towards EU. In the end it would bring new solutions and bolster security sector reform in Moldova.

The alternative to waiting supine would be to do things that should be done, regardless of Transdnistrian conflict developments. The strategy would also have to look at the impact of EU and NATO’s extension. The aforesaid recommendations for short and mid term refer in particular to:

  1. Measures aimed at increasing the transparency of the defence and security sector, including legislative monitoring.
  2. Restructuring the organisation of the defence system and non-military institutions of the security sector.
  3. Tightening border control (for persons and goods).
  4. On-going monitoring and evaluation of the defence system (recommended by NATO), using new opportunities to adequately and consistently allocate resources. The resulted data would help military decision-making.

However, all of these remain quite uncertain as long as on the one hand military reform policies are drafted and on the other, ideas like total or “partial” “demilitarisation” of the “reunited state” are promoted and even provided for in the “Kozak plan” and other similar documents drafted by OSCE. As a result, nobody knows how a security system should look like in Moldova.

Speaking of transparency, one should remember a recent example when during the annual evaluation session of the Ministry of Defence College late last year, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Vladimir Voronin asked military officials to come up with recommendations on reforming the main units of the National Army, such as artillery and air force brigades and anti-aircraft defence. Two weeks later a press release issued by the Presidency read that propositions of the Ministry of Defence on restructuring military units were approved during the Supreme Security Council meeting. Once Government endorses them they would be submitted for Parliament approval. Restructuring, or as the President put it “… let’s get rid of old equipment”, actually means selling munitions and military equipment that our country might no longer need, namely: 6 MiG-29 aircrafts; a few helicopters; armoured machines — 209 units (BTR-80, ТАB-71, BMP, BMD); cannons — 79; trench mortar — 115; installations for general discharge — 12; anti-tank cannons — 36; anti-tank guided missiles — 118; anti-tank unguided missiles — 113; installations for anti-aircraft missiles — 3; installations of anti-aircraft artillery — 23; “Igla”, “Strela” mobile installations — 66 units. It is known for a fact that some of Moldovan businessmen have been contracted in the past by interested parties in Africa, North Korea, Iran, etc. That is why such deals should be very transparent so as not to tarnish Republic of Moldova’s image.

Three years of Tarlev Government Moldova gives up on ghosts?