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Forum of Community of Democratic Option

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Igor Botan / December 5, 2005
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A reference event or new initiative destined to failure

The Republic of Moldova participated in the constitution of the Community of Democratic Option (CDO) and signed the declaration at the end of the forum that took place in Kiev, Ukraine, on December 2. Our country, represented by the chief of state, joined Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Georgia, with the nine countries agreeing to establish cooperation for development and strengthening of democracy. The signed declaration calls for cooperation of signatory countries with international institutions and organisations, representatives of governments and civil society with the purpose to coordinate support for new democracies. Taking part in the works of the forum were representatives of 23 states, while the U.S. representative in the person of the deputy secretary of state declared a special plenary support for outlined goals. Russian mass media, political researchers and representatives of the Moscow authorities described the constitution of this community as a try to influence the policy of the Russian Federation in the region.

Why does Russia not participate in CDO?

The Russian media had temperate reactions to CDO. The cause is that the initiators of the CDO Forum, the presidents of Ukraine and Georgia, have invited Russia to co-participate. Russia alone can say why it did not give green light to the invitation and why it acted this way. The problem is that the leaders of chromatic revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia have developed an initiative that Russia cannot disapprove in principle.

At the very beginning, the idea of “democratic option”, which leaders of nine states launched in 1999, was taken over and developed at a conference in Warsaw on June 26–27. Members of governments of 106 states attended the forum, including of countries which constituted the CDO on December 2 and Russia. A joint declaration on commitment of signatory states to support the democratic principles and to help each other for this purpose was signed at the end of the forum. The principles of the Warsaw Declaration were developed on basis of an Action Plan that the second conference of governments participating in the “democratic option” debated and adopted in Seoul on November 10–12, 2002. Thus, the idea of “democratic option” has become of reference within the U.N. and in the process of reformation of this organisation. The Seoul Plan also stipulated the constitution of regional forums of the “democratic option”.

The direct involvement of Russia in the electoral process in Ukraine in autumn 2004 and the open support for separatist republics in Georgia made the leaders of the two states launch the Carpathian Initiative early this year, on Christmas, and the initiative was developed in 2005 by taking into account the previous ideas, including those launched in the early 1990s, before the setting up of the Lukashenko regime, by leaders of the Belarusian People’s Front “to stem the imperial ambitions of Russia in the Black Sea basin,” for cooperation in the Black Sea basin, GUAM, etc., to launch the idea to create the CDO, which would make a chain of “democratic o[options,” to unite the states in the basins of the three seas. The proper idea was launched on August 13, 2005, during a meeting between Presidents Saakashvili and Yushcehnko in Borzhomi. It was discussed at the latest CIS summit in Kazani with two weeks later, with the Russian authorities having to keep themselves from criticism if not to salute the idea. Indeed, what objections should Russia, signatory of the Warsaw “Democratic Option” Declaration, have against an initiative that develops its principles?

If we examine the agenda of the recent CDO forum in Kiev, we can easily understand why Russia did not accept the participation. Of course, Russia would felt embarrassed to sign a declaration, which calls for respect for democratic norms, human rights, combat of corruption, organised crime, money laundering, terrorism and trafficking in human beings, etc., and comprises commitments on struggle against separatism, support for development of nongovernmental organisations, independence of mass media. These commitments would run counter Russia’s policies on full subordination of mass media (the latest scandal is related to REN TV), of NGOs (the new draft law criticized by international community, creation of GNGOs, as well as “Наши”, “Идущие вместе”, etc.), but especially to the ostentatious support for separatist regimes in Moldova and Georgia. Really, how could Russia back the CDO, if the administration of President Putin has launched projects on creation and financing of the so-called “Proriv Corporation” with branches in Transnistria, Crimea, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia through its officials? Even more, the Russian presidential administration organises pro-separatism forums starting last summer, aimed to accredit the idea of their eventual recognition.

Interests of the Republic of Moldova in CDO

The initiators of CDO said from the very beginning that the forum does not target against third parties, being only a framework aimed to ensure a good understanding between governments and nongovernmental organisations from these countries, on basis of general principles of the U.N. and eventual support of the OSCE, Council of Europe, and European Union. From that reason, only the eventual support for settlement of the problem of Transnistrian separatism that depends on Ukraine’s behaviour presents a major interest for the Republic of Moldova, which has assumed obligations towards the Council of Europe, implements a joint Action Plan with the E.U. The Moldovan authorities also insist on the E.U. “to encourage Ukraine in respecting the 2003 customs protocol,” which stipulates the obligation of cargo exports through the Ukrainian border only on basis of Moldovan customs stamps, but the Ukrainian authorities did not enforce this document until now. How efficient would the CDO be, if Ukraine honours this obligation?

As regards the economic cooperation, CDO cannot offer anything to the Republic of Moldova. President Vladimir Voronin has proposed the “union of markets” of CDO member states. In this context, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has invited the CDO member states interested in economic problems to join the GUAM, to which Moldova is part and whose upgrading last spring aimed to ensure the energy security of member states. The things developed on a disastrous way since then. It was demonstrated that Russia is in touch with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on which basis the gas extracted by them is bought for many years ahead and exported exclusively through Russian gas pipes. The United States expressed dissatisfaction with eventual possibilities to export huge energy resources from Uranus to Europe through the GUAM corridor. The only exporter in GUAM, Azerbaijan, which has a shore with the Caspian Sea and borders with Iran, did not accept to join the CDO, nor Poland did, but it should become a basic pillar for this option. Perhaps, this is related to energy reasons and wishes to avoid the further antagonizing of Russia, which threatens to bankrupt some members of CDO through its energy policy. Russia’s policy on “monetisation of relations” with the CIS would mean in the new conjuncture a double punishment of “disobedient states” where it supports separatism, threatening them to seize these territories by recognising their independence and to sell them energy resources for “world prices”.

Finally, the idea of President Voronin to institute a Parliamentary Assembly of CDO, which would be a practical adaptation of our countries in the perspective of an eventual entry in the E.U. besides the “union of markets and humanitarian resources,” and a way to identify a worthy development way if this entry of some countries is postponed for a further longer perspective, sounds too vaguely. However, the things may become clear after the scheduled regional forums of CDO in Vilnius, Bucharest and Tbilisi next year.

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