Natalia Albu on Moldovans’ reluctance about NATO

Since the establishment of bilateral relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1994, the Moldovan authorities have talked half-hearted about our country’s partnership with NATO, because of the political sensitivity of the issue and with the argument of neutrality brandished by opposing politicians. Now, with Russia’s war raging in Ukraine, it would be a good idea to talk more about this partnership and how it could strengthen our security, suggests Natalia Albu, executive director of the Platform for Security and Defense Initiatives.

“On October 10, when two Russian missiles flew over Moldova’s airspace, even according to polls, many were made to think about the effectiveness of this neutrality," said Natalia Albu during an IPN debate on the subject.

Polls indicate both Moldovans’ reluctance to cooperate with NATO and the perception that Russia is a threat to our security. “But somehow people believe it’s preferrable to cooperate and negotiate with the aggressor, because the fear is greater. We see, on the one hand, the fear of approaching a potential partner who could strengthen our security, and on the other hand, the fear of upsetting the Russian Federation, which is rather a threat, if we think about it. This is despite the fact that we could benefit from such partnerships, precisely to counter such threats”, emphasized the expert, who is also a professor at the Military Academy.

The expert also commented on the decreasing confidence in the army: “If we analyze the peacetime opinion polls, the National Army moved from second to fifth place, even lower than the police. Because in peacetime, risks and threats are not perceived (...) People were concerned with the image of the army as a whole, and not with its capabilities. They felt safe due to the neutral status. In a situation of war in the neighboring country, we see that trust towards neutrality also decreases (...) It is being realized that Moldova’s defense capacity is very low. Thus, trust in the army decreases in this context. So, we are talking about a growing realization of the situation”.

Last week, the NATO foreign ministers held a meeting in Bucharest, marking the first time Moldova was invited to attend alongside other key partner countries. Aside from NATO's internal agenda, the purpose of the meeting was to strengthen communication with these partner countries, namely Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also Ukraine. For our country, says Natalia Albu, it is essential that energy security was discussed at this forum, among other important topics.

The expert was also eager to note that often the media, when covering assistance offered by NATO or the EU for strengthening Moldova’s security, wrongly implies that this assistance involves lethal equipment. In fact, this is rather equipment of a logistic nature or assistance to help us reform the security and defense sector, insists Natalia Albu. According to her, the judicial reform and the fight against corruption are also part of these efforts.

Additionally, such assistance also aims to strengthen Moldova’s defense capacity against cyber threats. “Having a war on the European continent, it would seem that at such meetings there are only discussions about strengthening the defense capability from a military point of view. But these meetings also include ways to encourage a sense of resilience against (cyber) factors, including factors used by Russia on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. So, we are not talking about aggression as defined by the UN Charter, art. 51 (...), but the exploitation of the psycho-emotional space of citizens. And this summit means that the Republic of Moldova should get closer in cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance in strengthening its national security”, said Natalia Albu.

The debate was the 269th installment of the “Political Culture” Series, run by IPN with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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