Igor Boțan: Future of CIS is uncertain and European integration looks more attractive to Moldova

The future of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is uncertain. Everything depends on the end result of the war in Ukraine. In such circumstances, the faster European integration for ensuring economic development and security looks more attractive to the Republic of Moldova, Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, stated in a debate hosted by IPN News Agency.

The expert noted that the opportunity and necessity of joining the CIS wasn’t evident at the beginning. Initially, Parliament didn’t ratify the Almaty declaration on entry into the CIS. Only after snap parliamentary elections, the government that consisted mainly of agrarians decided to ratify this agreement.

According to Igor Boțan, problems also appeared as regards the legitimacy of forming part of the CIS. The difficulties were revealed in 2002 in Chisinau, at the CIS Summit, when the then President of the Republic of Moldova Vladimir Voronin addressed the gas price issue and the same problem was raised by the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma at the CIS Summit of Yalta , one year later. It was proposed establishing a Customs Union between the CIS member states. Vladimir Voronin and Leonid Kuchma expressed their dissatisfaction with the big difference in the gas prices for the states within this community.

“In 2002, 1,000 cubic meters of gas in Russia cost US$18, in Belarus – US$37, in Ukraine – US$50, while in the Republic of Moldova – US$80 in 1992-2006. This was the first moment that cast doubt on the legitimacy of forming part of the CIS. Later, in 2006, Russia imposed a ban on the Republic of Moldova. The signing of the CIS Free Trade Agreement in October 2011 was the next important moment. In 2013, the Republic of Moldova was punished again with a ban,” stated the expert.

Igor Boțan noted that all these things taken together gave the impression that the presence in the CIS is inappropriate for Moldova. “When the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine asked for a Customs Union to balance the prices, Russia refused. When the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine decided to sign association agreements with the European Union, they were punished for this with a ban. The problem of legitimacy is over 20 years old,” he stated.

He also said that the political aspect when taking decisions matters a lot, as does the economic and commercial aspects and the interests of the Moldovans should be taken into amount. “Until 2014, statistics showed that about 600,000 Moldovans worked in Russia. At the start of this year, Russian statistics showed there were about 80,000 Moldovans in Russia. After the conflict of 2014, the Moldovan citizens looking for a well-paid job migrated massively from Russia to Europe and this fact should be taken into account.”

Igor Boțan stated that the absolute majority of Moldovans are for integration into the EU. In the Eurasian Economic Union, Moldova acts as an observer only. 50-55% of the citizens who are in the country are for European integration into the EU, while 30-35% are for Eurasian integration. The about 1 million Moldovans who are abroad dramatically incline the balance in favor of the European Union.

The public debate entitled “Partial withdrawal from CIS agreements: Reasons and effects” was the 276th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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