The initiative of a Balanced Foreign Policy is an important one and has great potential of influence on Moldova’s domestic and foreign policy and on the life of Moldovan society, providing a large number of advantages, but implying also big risks. Together with the convergence of the political positions by the Presidential Office, which drafted the initiative, and the Government, given its implementation potential, this initiative has all the chances of switching over swiftly from theory to practice. The issue was discussed by representatives of parliamentary groups at a public debate entitled “Balanced foreign policy: capacities, advantages, risks” that was staged by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova.
The project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said Moldova’s foreign policy generally matches particular determinism. After the country declared its independence, its foreign policy was influenced by three factors related to the economic interests of the state and here Moldova oscillated between two centers of attraction – the Commonwealth of Independent States and the European Union. The unsolved Transnistrian issue is another factor that determined the foreign policy. Moldova’s special relations with Romania are the third very important factor. After the Independence was proclaimed, the foreign policy concept was developed in stages. In 1991-1994, 1995, for economic reasons, Moldova decided to sign the Astana Agreement on the entry into the CIS economic area. The Parliament’s incapacity to ratify that agreement led to the dissolution of the legislature and holding of snap elections in February 1994, after which the agreement was ratified.
The expert noted that after the adoption of the new Constitution, all the governments pleaded for a balanced foreign policy and the relations with the strategic partner Russia were good, while the developing relations with the EU were very good. The given period produced the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU that was signed in 1994 and ratified in 1998. Since then, practically all the governments laid emphasis on the necessity of coming closer to the EU. The country always looked for a kind of balance between the two geopolitical centers of attraction so as to solve the three problems. After 2013, when the Party of Socialists was taken over by Igor Dodon, emphases were somehow changed to the Eurasian integration of Moldova, but this party’s viewpoint changed following its coming to power.
Socialist MP Alexandr Nesterovski said the foreign policy was mainly oriented to the West or oscillated from one direction to another one. “Either Europe is good and Russia is bad or the opposite. The PSRM has always maintained that the interests of the Republic of Moldova are important and everything possible should be done for our country to develop and for the people to feel that the quality of life improved. The bilateral relations with a state should be primarily built on our interests. Therefore, we have always pleaded for friendship relations with our neighbors, with the Russian Federation and the Eurasian Union as the main economic partners on which our country depends a lot, and also with the EU, Romania, Ukraine, We plead for good relations with everyone,” he stated.
According to the MP, the so-called balanced foreign policy has been oriented more to the West and this generated numerous problems in the state. “Some of the strategic partners imposed bans and economic problems appeared, including in the agro-industrial sector. Our task is to be on friendly terms with everyone so that our country develops. One of the saddest political experiences is when you look into one direction, but do not try to come to terms with the neighbors,” said Alexandr Nesterovski, adding the fact that Moldova has an Association Agreement with the EU and is simultaneously oriented to the ties with the Eurasian Union is something beneficial.
Vasile Năstase, MP of the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth” of the ACUM bloc, said the domestic policy is the best foreign policy. “The most important thing as regards foreign policy is when a Government enjoys credibility. This was evident recently, when the financial and structural relations with the foreign partners, including the EU and the IMF, were improved in a record period of time given the credibility of the Government of the ACUM bloc. Regrettably, the current government, with the so-called balanced foreign policy, thwarted all the plans. They now entered a serious crisis and I don’t know how they can overcome it,” he noted.
According to the MP, the idea of a balanced foreign policy appeared in 1995, when Parliament voted a decision on the foreign policy concept. The then political class and the subsequent regimes didn’t understand that the foreign policy is the result of internal activity and serious reforms done inside the country can help improve the country’s foreign relations. If the homework had been done, an application for entry into the EU would have been filed long ago. But discrepancies were witnessed, including persecutions while the Communist Party ruled, simulation of economic reforms, mimicking of relations with Romania and the EU. All these led to the present situation.
Marina Tauber, MP of the group of the Shor Party, said their party has always pleaded for a balanced foreign policy and for military neutrality. “The party not only spoke about these notions from its program, but took concrete steps in this regard. It promoted a balanced foreign policy, primarily in the interests of the people, in the local public administrations for which it bears responsibility. The policy pursued so far by the central authorities cannot be considered balanced or equidistant, but there has always been a priority course, depending on the interests of the ruling party,” stated the MP.
“Speaking about what is going on in the current Government, I don’t think we can comment a lot as the executive was invested recently. We will see during the next period already what this political class can do. It is important for the national interests not to be only political interests as some of the parties speak about a balanced policy, but we know who they depend on. Some forget yet about the people’s interests. Regrettably, the sonorous names of foreign rulers or political leaders are much more important for these parties than our people. We continue to insist that Moldova belongs to the people and we should find the beneficial path for improving the living conditions of our people,” stated Marina Tauber.
Dumitru Alaiba, MP of the group of the Action and Solidarity Party of the ACUM bloc, noted the foreign policy should be based on the people’s interests, not vice versa. “It is not true that attempts to pursue an unbalanced foreign policy were made a month ago as the Government of Maia Sandu made effort for our country to have good relations with all the partners. I will dare to add that a balanced policy does not necessarily mean 50 to 50,” he said, noting the figures concerning Moldova’s exports should be taken into account when speaking about the foreign policy and these show that about 70% of the exports are oriented to the EU, while less than 20% to Russia.
The MP said he doubts that the current Government can ensure balanced relations with everyone as it made sufficient efforts to isolate itself. “It made effort to have particular relations with Russia, but we do not see the efforts needed to maintain and promote the interests of our entrepreneurs in the West, the European Union as even the entrepreneurs from the Transnistrian region realized that there is their future and there is their business potential. Why should we deny what the people clearly prove by figures produced by the National Bureau of Statistics,” stated Dumitru Alaiba. According to him, necessary discussions on the issue weren’t held and a series of opportunities in this regard were missed.
The representatives of the Democratic parliamentary group invited to the debate said they cannot take part owing to the tight schedule.
The debate titled “Balanced foreign policy: capacities, advantages, risks” was the 122nd installment of the series of debates “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the German foundation Hanns Seidel.