Experts: Washington trying to prevent Moldova’s reorientation to Russia
12 February 2016. PenzaNews. Moldova’s opposition leaders met with the EU Parliament delegation in the framework of the European deputies’ two-day visit to Chisinau. The conversation was initiated by the Western partners and took place with the participation of Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Co-President Heidi Hautala, MEP from Germany Rebecca Harms and Swedish MEP Peter Eriksson, who is the member of the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee. The opposition was represented by Chairman of the Dignity and Truth (DA) Platform Andrei Nastase, Our Party Leader Renato Usatii and Chairman of the Party of Socialists Igor Dodon.
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“We’ve set out our position: we will stand to the end and seek early elections. This is demanded by 80% of citizens. All together, the whole country, we’ll come to the parliament on the day of the first parliamentary session. This will be a peaceful action, but we will achieve our goal. The European Parliament representatives should be aware of this,” Renato Usatii said after the meeting.
Andrei Nastase noted that the protesters handed the Civil Forum resolution to the EU delegation members.
“This is not a political document, these are the demands of the society. It would be very good if the European Parliament could also participate in this process, which is aimed at creating equal conditions before holding free democratic elections in the country,” DA Platform leader explained.
Analyzing the difficult situation in Moldova, Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the State Duma CIS Affairs Committee, reminded that the vast majority of the population is strongly opposed to the current government, which, in his opinion, is a negative indicator for the United States and the European Union.
“All this indicates that the masses are obviously opposed and the government continues to hold the situation only with the external support. And this very situation completely undermines all the vaunted principles of Western democracy,” the deputy said.
However, he stressed that Russia does not interfere in Moldova’s internal affairs.
“But we maintain contacts with our colleagues in the parliament. We exchange views literally every day. We hope that the politicians will resolve another crisis in a peaceful manner and in compliance with the will of the Moldovan people,” Leonid Slutsky added.
Meanwhile, according to the experts, political differences begin to divide the Moldova’s protesters united front that once brought together left and right-wing forces, providing the current government with an additional opportunity to split the opposition.
According to Bogdan Tardea, the political scientist, MP from the Socialist Party of Moldova, the country’s leadership is doing everything to intimidate and destroy the unity of the block which is opposed to the government.
“The wave of protests began to decline, but the situation is tense to the limit. Any provocation could lead to civil clashes and blood, as it was on 7 April 2009. Three major political forces united against the government set up a committee of national salvation. Even the part of the civil society, which depends on Western grants, is highly critical of the new government,” the politician said in an interview with PenzaNews agency.
He also reminded that according to the recent polls, about 80-90% of the population do not trust the current leadership of the country, and 65-70% of citizens advocate for early elections.
“The economy is in crisis. Government coffers are empty. Only the support of Washington and Bucharest keeps the leadership from collapse,” the expert said.
In his opinion, in the medium term the situation in the country will remain unstable.
“The West will try to strengthen the puppet regime but it is uncertain whether it is possible. The United States supports the idea of Moldova’s absorption by Romania to strengthen the southern landfill against Russia. Some Moldovan officials, including oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, seem to have promised the Romanians to arrange the unification in 2019,” Bogdan Tardea added.
In turn, Galina Selari, Executive Director at Center for Strategic Studies and Reforms (CISR) in Chisinau, suggested that the leadership of the country could “calm” the situation for a while.
“The government is trying to use this respite to demonstrate the seriousness of its intentions to stabilize the political and economic situation both to their external partners and the public. For example, they nominally reduced gas tariffs for the citizens, business people were able to ‘achieve’ – verbally – some easing of fiscal policy, external partners are ‘calmed down’ with the intention to resume dialogue with the IMF – the mission is expected to arrive on February 21,” the analyst explained.
At the same time she recalled that despite the need to start the presidential election procedure, the spring-summer session of parliament had not yet started, and the budget for 2016 had not been approved.
“Unfortunately, the Moldovan economy today is much more than ever determined by the politics. Sometimes the government just does not have time for ‘economy’ and acts in a haphazard way,” the expert added.
In addition, she called the actions of Moldovan politicians regarding the EU Eastern Partnership program “incorrect.”
“The government initially agreed to a standard text of the Association Agreement. They negotiated not the agreement but its annexes. Sometimes it seems that just now the agreement begins to be comprehended as a single document and only by the expert community so far. Hence there are such results, or rather lack of them,” Galina Selari said.
Meanwhile, according to Vasily Kashirin, Senior Fellow at the Center for Baltic and CIS Countries, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), the new Moldovan government will strengthen its position.
“Everyone understands that Pavel Filip is not an independent figure. Now all the positions of power are held by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who actually received the authorization for governance from American diplomacy. Given that he is a very strong politician, who controls the main institutions of the state and society, he will strengthen his position and the position of his regime and will possibly continue repressions against his opponents. According to my forecast, there will be no aggravation or change of power in the near future,” the analyst said.
From his point of view, the US State Department, Brussels and Romanian political forces have a different vision for the future development of the situation in Chisinau.
“When there were the discussions around the formation of a government headed by Vladimir Plahotniuc, most in the West opposed it because of the oligarch’s odious reputation. So he had to nominate ‘his man’ who is fully controlled by him. Of course, not everyone in Europe likes the fact that Americans force their ideas, promote compromised politicians, which ultimately will cast a shadow on the EU’s policy toward Moldova as part of the Eastern Partnership program,” the expert said.
This, in his opinion, was the reason for creation of the opposition which included not only the left pro-Russian protesters but also DA Platform supported by the European diplomacy.
“In case of Vladimir Plahotniuc hypothetical weakening, there may be attempts to promote an alternative pro-European force. Of course, external actors took an active part in Moldova events, and Russia is the least involved in there, no matter what our ill-wishers say,” Vasily Kashirin added.
In turn, Knut Fleckenstein, Vice-Chair of Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, member of the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee, disagreed with the statement that the current government is still in power only with the support from the outside.
“As long as there is a majority in Parliament for a certain government coalition, the country has a legitimate government. The Members of Parliament have been elected,” the German politician explained.
It doesn’t matter what kind of people in Moldova’s government the EU or Russia would prefer to see – it is up to the Moldovans to decide, he said.
Moreover, he expressed the hope for progress on the fundamental reforms that Moldova’s people request from their political leaders no matter that the situation in Moldova is currently very fragile.
“Moldova’s new government must prove swiftly that it doesn’t only make empty promises but that it implements the necessary reforms. People in Moldova rightfully expect their economic and social situation to improve. They also expect their political leaders to fight corruption which undermines the country’s economy as well as the people’s prospects for a better life,” Knut Fleckenstein said.
According to the public official of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, political scientist Andrey Safonov, the authorities will try to transform the conflict into a daily routine hassle.
“In contrast, government opponents can only expect to win if they keep the unity of their heterogeneous alliance. [...]The opposition must either achieve early elections, or it will be defeated. Now the situation got stuck. I do not feel that there will be a decisive change in Moldova soon,” the expert said.
Moreover, the EU Eastern Partnership program has crashed, he said.
“This was a blatant political and, perhaps, financial fraud associated with splitting the money under the guise of ‘Europeanization’ of several post-Soviet countries. The scary thing is that the association with the European Union and joining the trade zone with EU killed Moldova’s production. The only possible way to get out of crisis is the reorientation of former Soviet Union countries and its former allies to the Eurasian integration model,” the analyst said.
At the same time, he said, the United States and the EU support not so much the Moldova power against the opposition as Chisinau’s orientation to the West to prevent the country’s pivot to the East.
“I would not rule out Washington and Brussels’ attempts to replace the current Moldovan government, which is considered to be too maneuvering between Moscow and the West, to the frankly anti-Russian and pro-American one. In this case such power should abandon the constitutional neutrality of Moldova and enter the NATO alliance. The reason for such radicalism is simple – the US wants to surround Russia with hostile regimes in the countries of the former socialist community and the former Soviet Union. The United States has put a lot of effort to unleash turmoil in Ukraine. It is clear that they will do everything to ensure that Chisinau is not turned in the direction of Russia,” Andrey Safonov concluded.
Political crisis in Moldova gained momentum in September 2015 as a response to another corruption scandal connected with the disappearance from the Moldovan banks of 1 billion US dollars – the sum comparable to the annual budget of the country.
Former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, was arrested on charges of corruption. The Valeriu Strelet government was dismissed through a motion of censure. As a result, the ruling Alliance for European Integration, which included the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party, has disintegrated.
Democrats formed a new ruling majority in parliament and approved government led by Pavel Filip. The Socialist Party, Our Party and pro-European DA platform opposed it. The main demands of protesters include the resignation of the current government, dissolution of parliament, early elections to the legislature, as well as the amendment of the Constitution and transition to the direct election of President.