Category Archives: Moldovan-Romanian Relations

Dodon muddies the water in Moldova’s relations with Romania and Ukraine

Mihai Popșoi: The statements of President Dodon create a less pleasant diplomatic atmosphere in the relations with neighbours. The foreign policy expert, Mihai Popsoi, says the biggest challenge in the relations with Kiev and Bucharest is the domestic policy of Chisinau and that an increase in the weight of Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party will inevitably lead to new tensions in the relations with neighbors, relations that are quite good at the moment.

RO_UA_MD4fc8a4bdcdLina Grâu: How do you see the relations between Moldova and its two neighbouring countries – Romania and Ukraine- at this moment?

Mihai Popșoi: An overview would lead us to the thought that the relationship between Moldova and Romania, on the one hand, and Ukraine, on the other hand, is a good one. The governments of these three countries have somewhat similar views in relations with the EU and the Euro-Atlantic space. But if we look deeper, in the context of domestic politics in Bucharest, Kiev and Chisinau, things get complicated. Regarding the majority coalition in Chisinau, its relations with Bucharest were largely based on materialistic considerations. The part of belonging to the same space of values with Romania is of minor importance to the Democratic Party, while the Liberal Party failed to impose its vision and unionist ideas within the government. Meanwhile, the right-wing opposition finds itself in a very complicated situation. It hoped that Romania will have a more decisive stance, but Romania has chosen to provide financial support to the Moldovan government, largely for geopolitical reasons, which is supporting this government in power. And now we see that the current government is trying to stay in power also after the 2018 elections through changing of the electoral system. So, Romania has had and continues to have a very important role in terms of domestic politics in Chisinau. Regarding the relations with Kiev, they are also complicated, both because of the Transnistrian conflict and, more recently, in the context of the problems of Crimea and Donbas. It seems that we are getting into a bit strange situation where the Ukrainian politicians are calling for support and solidarity, while the politicians in Chisinau don’t seem to hear them for fear not to antagonize Russia. The Moldovan government’s position is very prudent, trying to “both eat the cake and have it”- it is pro-European, but at the same time, it is trying to build a relationship with the Russian Federation. I believe that the recent visit to Chisinau of the vice chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Ukrainian Rada and his statements encouraging directly the Moldovan government to impose stricter controls on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border of the Transnistrian segment, remained without reactions. During his recent visit to Kiev, Pavel Filip has also discussed the issue of the common border crossing points. But there is a long way from words to deeds.

Lina Grâu: The existing duality in the Moldovan politics, to what extent does it influence the relations with Romania on the one hand, and those with Ukraine, on the other hand? The president Dodon said during the election campaign that Crimea, de jure, belongs to Ukraine, but de facto, to Russia. On the other hand, it attacked Romania, so arrows flew in all directions. How does this aspect influence the bilateral relationship with the two neighbours?

Mihai Popșoi: Indeed, during the election campaign, the position of Dodon was quite harsh and unfriendly towards the two neighbours of the Republic of Moldova. But after three months since his inauguration, it is becoming increasingly clear that those tough positions of Dodon’s in the electoral campaign were meant only to consolidate his electorate, while his actions after he took over the presidency, make us think that he would rather try not to antagonize things. But neither has he direct mechanisms to do so, even if he would like to do so as his power is very limited. Those bellicose statements can sometimes be interpreted as benefiting the power in Chisinau and first of all, Vlad Plahotniuc, because they allow the Democrats to position themselves as defenders of the European vector and of good relations with Romania and Ukraine. It seems to be nothing more than the well-known tactics of “the good and the bad cop” that has been already de-conspired and the only thing Kiev and Chisinau can do is to ignore the aggressive statements of President Dodon, what they are actually doing already. However, I must admit that these statements create a less pleasant atmosphere in the diplomatic relations between our states, even though they cannot have a direct impact. The situation could change, though, with a possible Dodon’s victory in the 2018 parliamentary elections, when his rhetoric could be implemented into public policy, which will have a serious impact on Moldova.

Lina Grâu: Igor Dodon is a very frequent guest in Moscow. Do you think he can rely on the same frequency of official visits to Kiev and Bucharest?

Mihai Popșoi: This will become evident this week, when Dodon returns to Moscow, although he promised that after the initial visits to Moscow and Brussels he will go to Bucharest or Kiev. But he is not doing it and it is understandable why – because he is not welcome, neither in Bucharest or Kiev, as a result of his previous statements. Well, in Moscow he is welcome, for understandable reasons.

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Lina Grâu: Russia is not a direct neighbour of Moldova, however, it is very present in the media and public space, having direct or indirect representatives among the political class and civil society. How do you see this presence in the context of the geopolitical situation? And how did you find the recent diplomatic incident, when the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Prime Minister Filip and informed about Chisinau’s indignation in relation to the abusive treatment of some Moldovan officials in Russia?

Mihai Popșoi: Indeed, Russia, although not a direct neighbour, is perhaps the most influential force affecting the domestic and foreign policy of the country. Unfortunately, this is a reality. As for the recent diplomatic incident, is not yet clear what the essence of the problem is. From the multiple versions that have circulated, one is curious that says that Russia had tried to put Plahotniuc under the Interpol monitoring. So, Russia is in a position to create preconditions for the oligarch Plahotniuc to be investigated and supervised by the Interpol. The Prime Minister Filip complained to the Western diplomats – the EU and the US ambassadors – requesting support and protection of oligarch Plahotniuc. This is a difficult situation for the Western diplomats, because it puts them in a difficult situation, given Plahotniuc’s personality and rating in Moldova. It remains to be seen how accurate this information is -that Russia wants Plahotniuc to be supervised by Interpol. The explanation given by the Government that it would be allegedly a response to the investigations initiated by the law enforcement bodies in Moldova in the context of the laundering of $20 billion through the Moldovan banks seem implausible. It is a fact, though, that Russia has influenced in the past the political processes in Moldova and it will try to do so in the future. It depends now on the Moldovan politicians and their ability to prevent Russia’s plans in order to promote the interests of the Moldovan parties and of the citizens who support them.

Lina Grâu: I would like to address also the issue of energy in the relations with the neighbours. Theoretically, Moldova would have a fundamental interest in diversifying its sources of gas supplies that are now coming from the Russian Federation, and of the electricity, which are coming from Transnistria, the latter producing the electricity with the help of the Russian gas. However, Transnistria is not paying for this gas, the debts being put on Moldova’s shoulders. So, Moldova should have a vital interest in diversifying its energy sources. And we see that at the moment, there is very little gas coming from Romania and the developments in the extension of the pipelines from Ungheni to Chisinau are insignificant, while the electricity is bought from Transnistria and not Ukraine. What is actually happening in this area?

Mihai Popșoi: You’re right, it is a very illogical situation. Especially when we refer to the so-called ‘statalistic’ parties – and here I mean especially the centre-left parties. The Socialist Party and the Democratic Party are great defenders of the Moldovan identity and sovereignty of Moldova. But when it comes to energy security of the state, these parties ignore the importance of diversifying both the gas and electricity supply sources. This undermines the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, because as long as you are dependent on one supplier, you are very vulnerable. When signing last year the contract for the supply of electricity with the Cuciurgan power station, the latter was a bad movement in relation to our partners in Ukraine, which after a period of instability, at the moment of signing of the contract, were ready to sell electricity to Moldova at a more convenient price to the Moldovan consumers. However, Chisinau has chosen to buy electricity from Transnistria. The explanation here is at the same time simple and painful for the Moldovan citizens, because they are forced to subsidize the separatist regime – paying the bill for electricity each month, the Moldovan government is inevitably supporting the separatist regime in Tiraspol, to the detriment of the Ukrainian partners. It is an open secret that EnergoKapital, which acts as in intermediary in this business, benefits both the Tiraspol and Chisinau leadership. The profit of this company goes to offshore sites. In this situation, the Moldovans remain with the bill and less friendly relations with Kiev. In terms of gas supply from Romania the situation is equally complicated. Chisinau was not insistent enough and has not invested enough to build that pipeline. Neither the Romanian side has given sufficient diligence to turn this project into a truly viable one. But we have to understand that the Russian factor is also important here. Because if Moldova receives gas from Romania, whether it comes from the continental Europe or whether that is liquefied gas coming from the sea, this would mean weakening of Russia’s influence. Russia opposes a lot this process of gas supply diversification for Moldova. And even if we admit that Romania would like to invest into Moldova and support it, the lack of initiative on the side of Chisinau, because of the pressure from Moscow, makes this process a difficult one, which will have no success on the short and medium term.

Lina Grâu: In the current context, do you think the European vector is still valid for Moldova?

Mihai Popșoi: The European integration vector is the only viable vector for Moldova, especially in the context of Ukraine’s pro-European positioning. A possible re-orientation to Russia and the Eurasian space of Moldova would be obviously to the detriment of Moldovan citizens from both economic and political points of view. But the most important is that from the economic point of view, if we look at the figures, the European market is incomparable both as volume and purchasing power, and especially, the quality standards. Moreover, the experience of our relations with the Eurasian market, especially with the Russian Federation, is very unpleasant – embargoes, pressure on our migrants in the Russian Federation … This instability and political influence on the economic relations proves that this pro-Russian alternative is to the detriment of the Moldovan citizens. Unfortunately, some parties and politicians, seeing the survey data showing that the support for the European integration decreases, are getting disappointed and the power of and dedication in promoting the European integration lose from their intensity. However, I would suggest them, on the contrary, to make their best to contribute in order to return to that level of support for the European integration that we once had – more than 70 percent in 2007- 2008. That decline in support for the European vector has objective reasons: the self-called “Alliances for European Integration” have failed in fighting against corruption and in raising the living standards in Moldova. This, it is natural for the support of the European vector to decline. But we have to understand very clearly that this support has declined not because of the European Union, but because of the involuntary association of the EU with the lack of vision and poor governance in Moldova.

Note: The interview is part of the Synthesis and Foreign Policy Debates newsletter funded by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and produced  the Foreign Policy Association (APE). The Romanian version could also be found here: LinaGrau.com.

 TOPICS OF THE EDITION:
1. Romanian ambassador to Chisinau, Daniel Ioniță: Romanian assistance is directed at all Moldovan citizens, and not at certain parties or politicians
2. Ukrainian ambassador to Chisinau, Ivan Gnatişin: Ukraine is a good neighbour and friend of Moldova.
3. Political analyst Mihai Popșoi: The statements of President Dodon create a less pleasant diplomatic atmosphere in the relations with neighbours.

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Cui Servește Lansarea Unui Nou Partid Unionist?

Din cele 31 de partide active din Republica Moldova, patru se declara unioniste (Partidul Liberal, Partidul Liberal Reformator, Partidul Național Liberal și Partidul Dreapta), ce reprezintă cca 13%. Printr-o coincidentă, media scorului electoral al Partidului Liberal la ultimile patru scrutine parlamentare a constituit cca 12%, iar celelalte partide au acumulat împreună în medie 1%. Însa, nu putem afirma că numărul suținătorilor cauzei unioniste este de doar 13%. Deoarece mai sunt încă cel puțin alte șase partide în care există, într-o măsura mai mare sau mai mică, un curent unionist (Partidul Acțiune și Solidaritate, Partidul Platfroma Demnitate și Adevar, Partidul Liberal Democrat, Partidul Popular European, Partidul Acţiunea Democratică, Partidul Mişcarea Populară Antimafie). Pâna și Partidul Democrat are  personalități care împărtășesc viziuni unioniste (Monica Babuc). Astfel, nu putem cunoaște numărul exact al adepților acestui curent politic, dar conform sondajelor, aproape 20% ar vota în favoarea unirii cu România într-un eventual referendum.  Cert este că unionismul reprezintă un fenomen politic pe cât de complex pe atât de definitoriu pentru sistemul politic din Republica Moldova.

Totuși, în contextul celor expuse anterior, care ar fi rostul unui nou partid unionist? Ei bine, răspunsul îl vedem clar și răspicat  în sondaje. Partidul Liberal, în pofida aflării la guvernare, atât la nivel central cât și la nivel local (în Chișinău), sau probabil datorită acestui fapt, a căzut sub 2% în preferințele alegătorilor, mult sub pragul electoral de 6%. Niciunul din celelalte trei partide unioniste nu pare să aibă vreo șansă de a înclocui PL-ul. Apoi, după tradiția politică din spațiul Pruto-Nistrean, partidele se reincarnează cam o dată la zece ani. Stânga politică, după ce a fost dominată mai bine de un deceniu de Comuniști, a trecut printr-o metamorfoză care a transferat electoratul lor la Socialiști. Partidele de centru dreapta PAS și PPDA preiau bazinul electoral al PLDM-ului și al PL-ului. Sondajele demonstrează că susținătorii PL-ului au drept a doua opțiuniunea de vot Partidul Acțiune și Solidaritate, urmat de PD și PPDA. Totuși, de ce ar trebui adepții cauzei uninirii să susțină partide care nu se definesc drept 100% unioniste? Răspunsul devine evident dacă analizăm la rece parcursul istoric al partidelor unioniste de la 1990 încoace.

Frontul Popular a pierdut ocazia istorică de a înfăptui unirea, fiind ulterior măcinat de lupte politice interne. Partidul Popular Creștin Democrat, în mod surprinzător, a devenit peste noapte un vasal al inamicului său politic – PCRM. Astăzi, Partidul Liberal continuă să fie un satelit fidel al Partidului Democrat, lucru ce a contribuit, exact ca și în cazul predecesorului său PPCD, la pierderea credibilității și scăderea drastică a raiting-ului electoral. Însă, spre deosebire de cazul PPCD, electoratul căruia a fost preluat de PL, care se afla atunci într-o opoziție intransigentă față de PCRM; acum dimpotrivă se  încearcă transferarea electoratului PL către un partid nou, însă la fel de loial liderului PD Vlad Plahotniuc. Decizia lansării unui proiect politic nou vine în urma încercărilor eșuate ale lui Anatol Șalaru de a prelua conducerea PL-ului.  Substituirea lui Ghimpu cu Șalaru ar fi implicat costuri minime, dar anterior Mihai Ghimpu nu s-a înduplecat să ofere poziția de lider al partidului nici propriului nepot Dorin Chirtoacă, perpetuând astfel tradiția politică moldovenească – „Eu te-am creat, eu te distrug”.

Șalaru mizează pe notorietatea sa în rândul alegătorilor unioniști, însă asocierea sa cu Partidul Democrat ar putea să-l coste scump. PL-ul a intrat demult în vasalitatea Democratilor fără careva reticențe din partea lui Șalaru. Mai mult decât atât, experiența lui Șalaru din executiv în calitate de Ministru al Transporturilor și apoi al Apărării nu este nici pe departe una exemplară, iar scandalurile legate de Calea Ferată, Air Moldova, vânzări și achiziții în armata națională s-au ținut lanț. Șalaru s-a remarcat printr-o retorică pro-occidentală, cu toate acestea deschiderea biroului de legatura al NATO la Chișinău a fost tergiversat mai bine de doi ani. Evident, Șalaru nu a avut suficientă influență pentru a accelera procesul, căci acordul pentru deschiderea biroului NATO trebuia semant de Premierul Pavel Filip. La fel s-a întâmplat și în cazul deciziei Curții Constuționale privind recunoașterea limbii Române drept limbă de stat. Sesizarea depusă de Ana Guțu, căreia i s-au alăturat peste jumătate de an foștii colegi din Partidu Liberal, nu ar fi avut sorți de izbândă fără acordul tacit al Democraților, având în vedere influența lui Plahotniuc asupra Curții Constituționale conduse de Alexandru Tanase. Acesta din urmă fiind un alt potențial candidat la conducerea unui nou partid de drepta, fiind, probabil, asul din mânecă al lui Plahotniuc în cazul în care Șalaru eșuează. După demiterea sa din postul de ministru al apărării, Șalaru a comparat cuplul Roşca-Voronin cu noul cuplu politic Ghimpu-Dodon, însă demiterea sa, mediatizată pe larg de posturile lui Plahotniuc, nu putea avea loc fără acordul liderului PD. Demiterea lui Șalaru poate fi interpretată atât ca un prim pas în strategia de constituire a noului partid, dar în același timp și ca o favorare a lui Plahotniuc față de președintele nou ales Igor Dodon și pietenii săi din Rusia.

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Deci, istoria politică recentă a Republicii Moldova demostrează că un partid care se declară unionist nu poate obține mai mult de 10-12% din voturi, fiind sortit să devină, mai devreme sau mai târziu, un satelit al unui partid mai puternic, adesea cu viziuni diametral opuse. Politicienii care se declară unioniști devin inevitabil pioni ai unor interese obscure, iar cauza națională devine un văl pentru a ascunde fariseismul lor. Prin urmare, facând un calcul rațional, un alegător care simte și trăiește româneste ar beneficia mai mult dacă ar susține un partid cu șanse reale de a influența decisiv viitorul politic al țării. Unionismul, fără a fi un element definitoriu, dar constituind o aripă ideologică importantă, ar putea influenta decisiv poziția unui asemenea partidului și, prin urmare, viitorul țării. Nu putem afirma același lucru despre un partid plafonat la 12%.

Experiența ultimilor 25 de ani ne demonstrează că un nou partid uninonist nu va contribui la propășirea idealurilor naționale, ci, mai devreme sau mai târziu, își va discredita cauza prin matrapazlâcuri și trădări. Mai mult decât atât, va întări pozițiile partidelor de stânga pro-ruse prin diminuarea coeziunii partidelor de dreapta. În plus, dacă pragul electoral de 6% nu va fi modificat, un nou partid unionist riscă să nu acceadă în parlament, astfel oferind, în urma redistribuirii voturilor, câteva mandate partidelor pro-ruse. Iar în cazul introducerii sistemului electoral mixt, un partid unionist ar avea cele mai mici șanse de succes în circumsciptii uninominale. Iată de ce un eventual vot al Liberalilor pentru modificării sistemului electoral ar fi nu doar un cui final în propriul sicriu politic, dar și o mare defavoare eventualului succesor.

În concluzie,  oricât de paradoxal nu ar părea, afilierea electoratului unionist la partide mai mari decât un nou partid unionist, ar contribui nu doar la sporirea coeziunii segmentului politic de dreapta, dar ar oferi și o reprezentare mai eficace a aspirațiilor pe care le nutresc de o viață cei cu inima Română. Evident, atât timp cât avem alegeri democratice, cetățenii sunt liberi să voteze partidul care consideră ei că le reprezintă cel mai bine interesele cotidiene și năzuințele de viitor. Ar fi bine însă dacă această decizie importantă ar avea la bază mai mult calcul rațional și mai puțin emoții. Căci, clivajele identitare, numite în vest `identity politics`, ne fac mai vulnerabili în fața politicienilor atât de inscusiți în arta manipulării. De aceea este de datoria noastră civică să ne întrebăm: Cui servește lansarea unui nou partid unionist?

Notă: Articolul  poate fi citit și pe Adevarul.ro.