Split in Moldova’s political circles greatly hinders solution of urgent problems in republic
16 August 2017. PenzaNews. Moldova’s President Igor Dodon called on the government to refrain from attempts to involve the country in a regional conflict with the support of the West, saying that he will have to act decisively. The politician wrote this statement commenting the interaction of the neutral country with NATO and the US on his Facebook page on Monday, August 14.
“If the government and the parliamentary majority, being motivated from abroad, attempt to draw Moldova in a regional military conflict as a participant of the geopolitical fight in the region, I will have to take severe measures to provide peace and national security. Together with Moldova’s people, we will direct our efforts to overthrow this power in every possible way,” says Dodon’s message.
Moldova’s head made this statement after visiting the military base in Bulboaca village, which US-sponsored modernization caused a wide resonance in the media. In particular, it was stressed that the construction of military facilities is conducted several dozen kilometers from Tiraspol and can significantly exacerbate the difficult relations with Transnistria.
Meanwhile, according to some observers, Vladimir Plahotniuc’s pro-European Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), which controls the parliament, continues to actively undermine the efforts of the republic’s officials to restore a strategic partnership with Russia.
For example, Moldovan deputies launched initiatives to ban the retransmission of Russian news and analytical TV programs, and to introduce a visa regime for Russian citizens, but these proposals were sharply criticized by the president.
“I do not see any reasons to introduce visas. I do not see why Moldova and our bilateral relations need this, especially when there are more than 560,000 of our citizens in Russia,” Igor Dodon reminded.
Earlier Moldovan President condemned the decision of the government to declare Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin persona non-grata on August 2, stressing that it involved the country in an unprecedented diplomatic and geopolitical scandal.
According to one of the versions voiced by political scientists, in this way Chisinau responded to Dmitry Rogozin’s accusations against Vladimir Plahotniuc, who is actually ruling the republic.
“This is a mafia group that stands behind Moldova’s government and that understands that it has serious problems with the law and so it needed to be in line with the West,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister said after the incident with the plane.
A few days after that, Dmitry Rogozin made an equally tough statement on Russian TV.
“In [the government of] Moldova there is a group of puppets that is controlled by a single ‘pakhan.’ His name is Plahotniuc, he is the only mafia and oligarch in poor Moldova, and, of course, he bosses the show,” said the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.
Commenting on the situation in Bulboaca, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic stressed that military preparations near the contact line in the conditions of the unsettled conflict adversely affect the dialogue of the parties.
“The construction of facilities for the purpose of ‘working out military operations in urban development’, as says the official statement, is certainly an extremely alarming sign. At the same time, such a decision cannot be called a surprise: it perfectly fits into the logic of the processes of Moldova’s consistent militarization and its gradual abandonment of the neutral status enshrined in the Moldovan constitution. This is confirmed by the active cooperation between Moldova and NATO in the military sphere: by the end of the year the alliance plans to open its office in Chisinau, Moldova’s armed forces are being modernized, joint military exercises take place regularly, including near the established security zone of the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict, and this cannot be called otherwise than as an obvious provocation,” the ministry’s press service told PenzaNews.
According to the comment, Moldova consistently puts new measures of pressure on Transnistria.
“This year we have faced one of the most acute crises in the history of our relations, connected with the establishment of Moldova and Ukraine joint customs-border control on the Transnistrian-Ukrainian border. This is an extremely irresponsible and destructive decision that was made without taking into account the opinion and interests of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic; it will be the next stage of the economic blockade of Transnistria and will have far-reaching consequences for the whole structure and logic of further cooperation between Moldova and Transnistria, as well as the situation in the field of regional security. The current situation is significantly complicated by the continuing stagnation of the official negotiation process – the only instrument that could help solve the accumulated problems. […] The unprecedented pressure on the Russian peacekeeping operation, which for a quarter of a century has been a key security factor in the entire region, is an expressive measure as well. […] All these actions predetermine the further development of the situation along the path of escalating tension and give all grounds for believing that Moldova has a well-planned strategy for destabilizing the situation and suppressing Transnistria by the methods of a ‘hybrid war’,” the MFA of Transnistrian Moldovan Republic reported.
Meanwhile, Denis Cenusa, Associated Expert at Expert-Grup think tank, shared the opinion that the modernization of the basis in Bulboaca is part of larger efforts of the US in supporting countries that take part in international peacekeeping missions.
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“Obviously, President [Igor] Dodon and Tiraspol see it differently. Pro-Russian Igor Dodon uses this to strike against NATO and insist on neutrality of the country. In Tiraspol any modernization of the Moldovan army is inconvenient, including dangerous, because they felt always more advanced from the military point of view,” the analyst said.
He also stressed that political decisions in the country are controlled by Vladimir Plahotniuc.
“He controls the decision-making process via his Democratic Party and various proxies which also includes his close relatives like the speaker of the Parliament Andrian Candu. His control over state institutions is equal to state capture. Plahotniuc’s goal is to maintain and increase the power including after the legislative elections of November 2018,” Denis Cenusa said.
In turn, Vincent Henry, expert of Paris-Est University and Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, expressed confidence that information on the modernization of the military base in Moldova by the US doesn’t worth such attention that it received in the Media.
From his point of view, the news about Americans in Bulboaca is “a ridiculous story.”
“Some journalists should see what Bulboaca looks like; it’s far from James Bond’s films. The most dangerous weapon there are unleashed goats, streets dogs or angry gooses,” the analyst said.
Meanwhile, Michael Emerson, associate senior research fellow at Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), former Ambassador of the EU to Russia, drew attention to the split within the political circles of the republic.
“Moldova is dramatically divided, between pro-Europeans who see Russia as the enemy, and others who see Russia as salvation. The government is the former, and the president the latter,” the expert said.
In his opinion, Vladimir Putin is doing everything to build up President Dodon, including, for example, his presence on the Red Square May day parade, where he was the only foreign Head of State who arrived that day in Moscow.
However, according to Michael Emerson, in the last few years Moldova has become very much more economically integrated with the EU, which is partly because Russia has imposed sanctions against Moldovan fruit and vegetables, except for the region of Gagauzia which seeks to cooperate with the Russian Federation.
The former Ambassador of the EU to Russia also said that the most political decisions in Moldova today are taken by the “oligarch who captured the state.”
“Vladimir Plahotniuc runs the place. We call it ‘state capture’. Classic case of the oligarch who takes over and monopolises the state, while pretending to be democratic,” Michael Emerson added.
Russian political scientist Pavel Danilin, Director of the Center for Political Analysis, shared this point of view and stressed that the pro-Romanian and anti-Russian policy of the government controlled by the oligarch does not take into account the interests of the Moldovan people.
“Bilateral relations of Russia and Moldova are at a rather low level. They are not much better than they were under the previous president. We cannot expect any major changes for the better. This will continue until the Moldovan people themselves take their destiny into their own hands and decide that their future is connected with Russia. [...] Plahotniuc manages the Moldovan government, he is the sponsor of many politicians in the parliament and the government of the country, as well as one of the inspirers of the anti-Russian campaign,” the expert said.
According to him, many respected and authoritative people have already become victims of this campaign.
“They [the Moldovan government] banned many well-known [Russian] political analysts and experts from entering the country. This, of course, does not benefit our relations and is done by Romania’s behest. An outrageous decision to ban the entry to the airspace also speaks for itself. [Dmitry] Rogozin is one of the main proponents of rapprochement between the Moldova and Russia. Of course, in this context, he is very uncomfortable for them,” Pavel Danilin explained his point view.
“In the current conditions, we do not expect an improvement in the political climate between our countries. I think that for another decade the relations will continue to degrade,” the expert concluded.