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European integration remains a priority of the Republic of Moldova

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Igor Botan / July 31, 2006
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Postponed adoption of new concepts of foreign and security policies of state raises distrust

The spring-summer session of the Parliament has ended, as usually, with totals made by country’s leadership. In spite of optimistic reports, political developments in Moldova in the first half of 2006 and especially in July have been marked by serious uncertainties. A series of events made the interior and foreign policies erode dramatically their vague outlines. In contrast, the impasse that might deprive Moldova of the perspective of ascension aimed to reduce the handicap of backwardness and poverty soon has become clearer. The main cause of these developments rests with the influence of external factors. These factors namely and the internal reactions to them outline the vulnerability of Moldova. The same conclusion may be also drawn from fact that the legislature has failed to discuss new concepts of foreign and security policies of the state despite parliamentary debates on different dimensions and various fields of great importance, though they were drafted last February. Truly, the internal political stability, energy and trade problems, the Transnistrian conflict have become more dependent on behaviour of Russia and Ukraine. At the same time, western partners of Moldova capable to influence the conduct of these countries have to respond to some provocations in regions of the world which present a much bigger interest for them. For these reasons, the postponement of adoption of new concepts of foreign and security policies of the state until things will be clearer seems to be grounded at a first glance. But on the other hand, there is no certainty that the things will not develop reversely. Notably:

  1. the situation in the Middle East, which has a major impact on prices of hydrocarbons, influencing the conduct of big consumers and producers of hydrocarbons, depends on actions of some organisations such as Hamas and Hizbullah that the West describes as terrorist while Russia not;
  2. both the level of pressures that the West and Russia may exert on each other and how many resources Russia can afford to allocate to separatist regimes, including the Transnistrian one, to survive and to maintain the vulnerability of Moldova, eventually to some organisations such as Patria-Moldova, Proriv, the alternative congress of Gagauzians and the anti-NATO Committee from Moldova, etc., depend on prices of hydrocarbons;
  3. the maintenance of the new customs regime in the Transnistrian section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border for which Moldova has sought for years from the E.U. depends on “treachery of the orange coalition” by leader of Ukrainian socialists Olexander Moroz, who allows the election of the head of the Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovich, as premier;
  4. the internal stability inside of the country and the possibility of its definitive division depend on statements of high-ranking dignitaries from Romania and Russia regarding Moldova’s future, modality of settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, etc., as well as on reaction of the Moldovan authorities to them;
  5. the possibility of Moldovan economic agents to export their few goods to the traditional market of Russia, etc., depends on attitude of Russia toward efforts of the Moldovan authorities to settle the Transnistrian conflict in its own territory, whose sovereignty is recognised by Russia etc, etc.

This range may continue. If the Moldovan authorities waited for a clear situation in the fields mentioned above, Moldova would have to postpone permanently the adoption of documents of strategic importance and new concepts of foreign and security policies of the state. We realised the practical importance of these documents when the Parliament has tried to debate the problem of Moldova’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It should be noted here that the non-confidence of the opposition for sincerity of the ruling party to achieve these desiderata persists despite of the unanimous voting of the “Declaration on political partnership for implementation of the European integration objectives” on March 24, 2005. The adoption of the declaration was based on an elementary analysis of origins of provocations faced by Moldova and searching of support to get through them.

The postponed adoption of new concepts of foreign and security policies fuels only the suspicions that the ruling party follows the international political conjuncture rather than clear concepts based on convictions. On the other hand, the fact that a number of lawmakers have focussed on adoption of a decision on withdrawal from CIS by Parliament before adoption of strategic documents on new concepts of foreign and security policies reveals the internal political nature of the problem of quitting the CIS. The refusal of lawmakers representing the parliamentary majority to vote such a decision is a proof of hypocrisy of the ruling party, according to the group of liberal parliamentarians who tabled this initiative. The withdrawal of this initiative and its re-examination seem to be a non-stop process aimed to outline the conclusion on essence of conjuncture of the Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM). In this context, there are no doubts that the participation of the chief of state in the informal summit of CIS on July 21–22, 2006 also followed objectives with potential of internal impact.

What was the goal of participation of President Voronin in the informal summit in Moscow?

As a rule, the non-participation of heads of member states in CIS summits has become a way to raise dissatisfaction with this organisation in general and with Russia, which dominates it, in particular. President Voronin acted this way in September 2004, when he did not attend the Astana summit after publicly accusing for the first time the Russian and the Ukrainian authorities of supporting the separatist regime in Transnistria. Presidents of Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia have acted the same way at the recent CIS summit. The actions of the Turkmen leader must not be discussed at all since President Niazov said at the Kazany summit last year that his country quits the CIS and keeps its status of observer of this structure.

In this context, President Voronin had also many if not more reasons to follow the examples of Ukrainian and Georgian leaders and not to attend the informal CIS summit in Moscow. However, he has participated in that event because he thought that the Moscow rostrum was good to transmit some internal messages. Truly, the relations with Russia are as bad as it does not make any sense to outline this fact. On the contrary, it was necessary to demonstrate to a part of the traditional electorate of PCRM from electoral reasons that their party is doing its best to improve these relations. Even more, President Voronin promised in late March after the wine crisis started that a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is being prepared. The Russian side denied then the preparation of such a meeting. As a result, a number of political parties from Moldova have raised the pretension to “confiscate” a part of the PCRM electorate with pro-Russia sympathies. The things become very clear if we take into consideration that the elections of a governor of Gagauzia, where the PCRM lost more than half of supporters at the March 2005 parliamentary elections in favour of some pro-Russia political parties, will take place after three months. Thus, President Voronin and his party have reasons why to believe that if they lose the elections in Gagauzia next autumn, this failure could mark the start of manifestation of the domino effect. Finally, President Voronin wanted to seize the opportunity of participation in the summit in order to reduce the effect of the official Russian propaganda of defamation of Moldovan authorities, addressing the Russian audience directly via one of the most popular radio channels in Russia, Echo Moskvi, which manages to maintain its editorial independence for the time being. It should be mentioned that President Voronin does not get tired to reiterate periodically the same things via Russian mass media after the confusion related to the turning down of the Kozak Memorandum in November 2003, and notably: the relations of Moldova with Russia suffer because of Russia’s support for the separatist regime in Transnistria, this being the only thing that undermines the “centuries-long friendship between Russia and Moldova.”

But there is one more extremely important thing that makes President Voronin and his party be extremely sensitive to behaviour of elites from Russia and Romania. This is the signing of the bilateral treaty between the two countries in 2004, a document that condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The party press criticised vehemently this treaty in October 2004 and it seems that the Moldovan authorities are extremely suspicious over actions and statements of Moscow on one hand and of Bucharest on the other hand, allusions exposed in the so-called Belkovsky Plan in 2004, too. These suspicions notably could make President Voronin insist on the signing of bilateral and border treaties with Romania on one hand and not hurry up to break off with the CIS on the other hand.

Proposals on reformation of CIS and finality of Moscow summit

The significance of the CIS summit in Moscow is simply behaviourist. Thus, President Vladimir Putin has paraded the triumph of his country’s domination in CIS. Another meaning of this meeting, which started in a restaurant and ended with a horse race, could not exist. The exhibition of Russia’s triumphant behaviour is based on factors that the survival of CIS only can guarantee:

  1. Russia has kept its word after the August 2005 Kazany summit to monetise the relations with CIS. This way, Russia obstructs in continuation an economic integration into the Single Economic Area and the whole CIS. Truly, what kind of liberal competition is this when Russian economic agents purchase energy for prices which are several times lower than the one sold to economic agents from other member states;
  2. the CIS may remain attractive for authoritarian and dictatorial regimes only in order to prevent a complete isolation on international arena and concomitantly to ensure the security in the Collective Security Agreement under Russia’s auspices;
  3. Kazakhstan only may feel comfortable in the CIS besides Russia, since it is relatively self-sufficient from economic point of view and holds important energy resources. Other states are maintained on the CIS orbit for economic dependence or in the virtue of separatist conflicts inspired to prevent the withdrawal from this structure.

Russia’s pretensions to maintain its domination in the post-Soviet area are implemented in a “directed crisis” for states willing to break off. On the other hand, pretensions of GUAM member states to articulate their interests dependently on Russia are obstructed. In general, any claims to articulate the interests of CIS members uncoordinated with interests of Russia are labelled as anti-Russia policies after the principle — Russia only may have interests, while all others must meet them. From this perspective, the recent reformation of GUAM, the development of the Commonwealth of Democratic Options in the Baltic and Black Sea basins, etc. have faced and will face big difficulties. As a result, Georgia is on the threshold of a war against Russia. Ukraine is crossing an internal political crisis without precedent fuelled by danger to see the country divided by forces supported by Russia openly. Thus, it is not a surprise that the presidents of these states are not all afire with the desire to attend a CIS summit, which would outline their vulnerability in front of the host. At the same time, Azerbaijan is the only GUAM member that Russia treats with a certain consideration. This country owns resources of hydrocarbons and it may serve as an alternative corridor for exportation of hydrocarbons from Central Asia. As a key element of GUAM, Azerbaijan may be “seduced” to get apart from this structure by a new attitude of Russia towards the separatist conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Russia is doing this by changing its behaviour in the Minsk Group of the OSCE in charge with settling the conflict in Karabakh. Also, it should be noted that Nagorno Karabakh was not accepted in the so-called interstate community created by separatist regimes from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria on June 14 in Suhumi. Perhaps that’s why Armenian President Robert Kochyaryan was “ill” and did not attend the recent Moscow summit.

Obviously, a structure that the Russian president regards as a tool of “civilised divorce” will fail regarding a mutually advantageous reform. Latest developments demonstrates that the holder of the “harem” made up of “sister republics” tends to maintain them at all costs or to let them go as robbed and dishonoured as possible in the process of “civilised divorce”.

Under these conditions, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaiev, whose country chairs the CIS, proposes the reformation of the CIS, identifying 5 fundamental fields which should allow an impeccable functioning based on adoption of consensual decisions within this organisation: migration policy, transportation, education, anti-terrorism fight, and humanitarian problems.

Curiously, but these fields represent what Russia is interested in: 1) a migration policy within CIS would be correlated very well with the strategy on comeback of “co-nationals” to Russia, targeting at the settlement of the demographic crisis in this country by attracting above all people of reproductive age as labour force in depopulated regions; 2) transportation is of great actuality for Russia, but especially the transportation of hydrocarbons, which serve as basis of Russia’s energy strategy. Russia cannot seriously claim to become an energy superpower without transportation of hydrocarbons from Central Asia through its territory, but especially without monopolisation of transportation ways; 3) Russia regards the education problems in the light of the concept that “Russia’s domination is extended to the area covered by domination of Russian language,” a fact demonstrated recently in Ukraine; 4) the anti-terrorism fight is important for Russia in the light of new legal norms of this country, which allow military operations against eventual terrorists abroad, including in CIS; 5) humanitarian problems are interesting for Russia, especially in the light of support for the World War II veterans from CIS.

Finally, Russia wants the CIS members to promote a coordinated foreign policy. How this could look was demonstrated in 2004 when Moscow and its satellites directly attacked OSCE. Of course, the Russian authorities deserve all respect for willing to protect their interests, but do other CIS members want to meet these interests in the detriment of own interests?

European integration of Moldova does not have an alternative

Talks on a possible reorientation of Moldova’s foreign policy toward the east in connection with the failure of the Parliament to decide on maintenance of CIS and the participation of the chief of state in the recent CIS summit in Moscow does not resist to an elementary analysis:

  1. The CIS cannot offer anything to Moldova any longer. Relations between member states are monetised, separatist conflicts in this area are inspired and maintained without any possibility to be settled, commercial litigations cannot be settled (especially because the Moldovan president proposed in May to denounce the Agreement on Status of the Economic Tribunal of the Commonwealth of Independent States), etc.;
  2. Moscow has never trusted tears, while new Russian elites do not have the feelings of old elites to treat the former “sister Soviet republics” in a special manner. Everything is based on pure pragmatism only. The Communist Party of Moldova, in particular, cannot claim a “fraternal” treatment from Russian elites, when the Communist Party of Russia headed by Genady Zyuganov is discriminated and humiliated by the Kremlin’s propaganda;
  3. The top authorities of Moldova hold little chances to regain the good mood of Russian President Vladimir Putin toward them. Even more, the Russian authorities are not tired to outline that President Voronin is to blame for the deterioration of Moldovan-Russian relations, especially after he has turned down the Kozak Memorandum. The recent speech of Russia’s representative to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Alexei Borodavkin, who motivated Russia’s support for the scheduled referendum in Transnistria through refusal of President Voronin to sign the Kozak Memorandum, is also a proof in this respect. The Moldovan authorities must take into consideration with maximum seriousness the statements of President Putin, though they are delivered with a disarmed nonchalance like in an interview with Larry King in 2000, for example, when he easily said about the Kursk submarine — “it had sunk.” It should be recalled that this behaviour has revolted the governor of the region whose name was carried by the sunken submarine, Alexander Rutskoy, with the irresponsible affirmation of the supreme commander making him visit Severodvinsk to propose the services and the help of the region in order to remedy the situation related to the tragedy of the sunken submarine. Rutskoy was not forgiven for this action and he was humiliated in various manners meanwhile. In particular, Rutskoy was eliminated from three electoral campaigns from 2000 to present which he has attended to be elected in the bodies of the Kursk region or in the State Duma, because he had allegedly violated the electoral propaganda rules or he did not mention in his CV that he had served as a teacher. Thus, even incautious statements delivered by President Putin may have more dangerous consequences than “the accidental shot at hunting” of American vice president Dick Chaney, who has told the Vilnius summit that Russia meddles in internal affairs of CIS members, which is an absolute truth.
  4. It is enough for the Moldovan authorities to find out who coordinates and finances organisations such as “Patria-Moldova”, the alternative congress of Gagauzians from Moldova, “Proriv”, etc., and with what purposes these actions are done, in order to persuade themselves of seriousness of the facts mentioned above.
  5. Finally, if the PCRM is truly a doctrinaire party and calls for accomplishment of socialist values, a fact speculated for a long time, its leaders and members must give themselves a sincere answer to the question — in what proximal geographical area the socialist principles, social states are developed and where the corporatist and oligarchic capitalism rules? An honest answer to the last question must determine the vector of Moldova’s foreign policy — the European integration of Moldovan cannot have an alternative.


The successful implementation of the Moldova-E.U. Action Plan is the short-term priority of Moldova like said by Moldovan authorities, too. The medium-term priority must be linked to the South East European Cooperation Process, including and especially through entry in the CEFTA. The entry in the E.U. in the same enlargement wave with countries in the Western Balkans should be the long-term priority. Therefore, the cooperation within CEFTA should be capable to make the separation of Moldova from the Western Balkans seem impossible and absurd. That’s why Moldova must have an interior policy to fit the E.U. standards, a fact mentioned by the PACE president while on a recent visit to Moldova and repeated permanently by other European dignitaries. Under these eventual circumstances, a good foreign policy would be nothing but a continuation of a good interior policy. However, the Parliament must debate and adopt new concepts of foreign and national security policies as soon as possible in order to establish clearly the priorities of the country and to prevent speculations regarding Moldova’s strategic orientation.

Electoral race begins in Transnistria Referendum on background of explosions