Alongside the domestic factor that influenced the peaceful method in which the power was transferred after the elections of February 24, 2019, the foreign factor also persists. At the end of the three-month period envisioned by the Constitution for forming the parliamentary majority and the new Government, important representatives of the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation visited Moldova concomitantly. How much legality and coincidence were there in this massive presence of the foreign factor and to what extent were the interests of the Republic of Moldova and the people respected? The issues were developed by participants in a public debate entitled “Peaceful transfer of power: reasons, conditions and consequences – the foreign factor” that was staged by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova.
IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said that when it is about the legal and institutional frameworks, we must start from the fact that the Republic of Moldova is a sovereign, independent state that can solve the problems itself. At the same time, it forms part of the international community and there is a framework by which the Republic of Moldova develops international relations with different partners. “If we refer to the events related to the crisis we experienced since June 7 until June 14, we should note two dates that are fundamental from my viewpoint – June 3, when we had three high representatives of three important partners of the Republic of Moldova in Chisinau, of the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation. The legal framework also exists. The Republic of Moldova has basic agreements with the Unites States and the Russian Federation and an Association Agreement with the EU,” stated the expert. According to him, there is also the institutional framework based on which the Republic of Moldova cooperates with the given partners, including within the OSCE.
The expert noted that given that the Republic of Moldova has an unsolved conflict, the Transnistrian one, there is that framework within which the three partners form part of the 5+2 mechanism and cooperate to find a solution. “If we refer to the fact that the Republic of Moldova, as part of Eastern Europe, has a situation that puts the stability in the country in question, with repercussions for the region, surely these three important factors are probably greeted to communicate with the Moldovan authorities so as to see how the existing problems can be solved and overcome,” stated Igor Boțan.
According to him, June 9 is the second reference date when the Secretary General of the Council of Europe requested the Venice Commission to clarify without delay the things that brought Moldova close to a serious domestic conflict through the judgements passed by the Constitutional Court of Moldova during June 7-9. This intervention by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe played a decisive, beneficial effect on the crisis in Moldova. “Also, the influence of the foreign factor takes place within a particular legal and institutional framework. The Republic of Moldova has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1995. The Republic of Moldova takes part in about ten projects within the Council of Europe. The factor related to the Venice Commission whose documents have a decisive impact on the problems related to constitutional development and the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova also leaves an imprint,” stated Igor Boțan.
Political commentator Corneliu Ciurea said there are two camps in Moldova that look at things in a different way. One is the geopolitical camp that places the political confrontations in a geopolitical context of confrontation of the great powers. There is also the camp of those who see everything through the angle of the rule of law, the struggle against corruption – as a fundamental priority. But geopolitics is something that hampers the natural development of things and the modernization of the country. “Surely, I said that I’m the supporter of geopolitics as a driving force of things in the country and we should admit from the start that those who have supported the supremacy of geopolitics in the recent past experienced a kind of general confusion as, at a certain moment, they ascertained a situation of abnormality in the Moldovan politics, an annulment of geopolitics in favor of this approach to liquidate oligarchy, to get rid of the ‘nasty regime’, to establish the so-called rule of law,” he stated.
According to the commentator, what happened in the Republic of Moldova is an abnormal situation from political viewpoint, an exception that cannot last long and that should be explained. “It is evident that we experience an unordinary situation that will be overcome soon and we will ultimately return to normality, when the geopolitical rivalries will return to the forefront and the other priorities concerning the rule of law will move to the second place, as it is normal in such a thinking scheme,” said Corneliu Ciurea. He noted the fundamental question is how this tripartite agreement between the great powers was reached and everyone know that this took place as a result of the visits paid by the three foreign officials, and why the three big powers – the United States, the European Union and Russia – agreed on the removal of Vlad Plahotniuc and the Democrat Party from power.
Corneliu Ciurea said it is relatively easy to speak about Russia’s dissatisfaction with Vlad Plahotniuc and the Democratic Party. “I refer to the actions taken by the PDM against Russia, including the sending of diplomats home and the anti-propaganda laws and probably the investigation into the Laundromat. So, there were a number of matters that made Russia be extremely dissatisfied. Russia always perceived Plahotniuc as a geopolitical player who has a pro-American, globalist agenda and this thing always dissatisfied Russia,” stated the commentator. According to him, Russia behaved geopolitically, disguised in clothes that were more acceptable to the Europeans. It is yet strange why the other two great powers didn’t act geopolitically – in the case of the EU it is about the long confrontation between the PDM and the European Parliament that generated anger in Brussels. The behavior of the U.S. is the most interesting one as it was speculated a lot that Vlad Plahotniuc was a supporter of the American political agenda. In reality, neither he nor the PDM were fully engulfed by the foreign policy of the U.S. and this generated particular anger in Washington too.
Expert in political sciences Victor Stepaniuc said the participation by the main geopolitical players, including in overcoming the political and power crisis in Moldova, is a phenomenon. “It is surely a phenomenon, but we should note that there were cases when the great powers reached compromises on particular positions, in particular areas and regions of the globe. The case of the Republic of Moldova does not seem so difficult to me as the Democratic Party, its behavior especially after 2014, surely could not satisfy the West or Russia. If we speak about the United States of America or the European Union, these important geopolitical players surely wanted to increase their influence in the Republic of Moldova, but they wanted the regime on which they counted to be democratic, with important results in the social and economic life. This European modernization that was promised to our people first before 2009 and especially after 2009 should produce particular results. Ultimately, the foreign diplomats who work here, in the Republic of Moldova, know how to analyze and they follow our social, political and economic phenomena every day. They weekly draw up reports on what is going on in Moldova.”
According to the politologist, the Democratic Party’s regime could not satisfy them especially after the theft of the US$ 1 billion. The foreign partners could also not be satisfied with the fact that the law enforcement agencies during many years didn’t want to look for the culprits. Trust could not be gained also when it was evident that it wasn’t clear where the money provided by the West for projects goes. “The modification of the legislation, the Constitutional Court’s decisions, creation of paramilitary detachments and many other things showed that it was a regime with totalitarian features that actually did not exist in Europe earlier. No dictator afforded paramilitary detachments during the past 30 years,” noted Victor Stepaniuc.
According to him, the way in which the powers were seized and put under the control of the Democratic Party has never been met in Europe, when the judicial system is controlled, when judges are afraid and it is not clear why and who they are afraid of. The prosecution service became a monster that does not obey national sovereignty, the Constitution and the people and knows only to start criminal cases against political opponents. This shows it is in the service of the given party. “It is a new phenomenon and the West noticed it when the ruling Democratic Party was criticized and met with the opposition of the left and of the right. It is actually a case that is not frequently met in the political life,” stated Victor Stepaniuc.
Political commentator Ion Tăbârță said that there is a permanent debate as to what foreign policy means in the theory of international relations. This debate didn’t yet produce a result. “We have two basic approaches. The first approach is that the foreign policy is nothing else but an extension of the domestic policy. The second approach is that the foreign policy is determined by the foreign policy of other states. If we resort to a compromise solution, we can say that the foreign policy for the great powers is an extension of the domestic policy, while for small states such as the Republic of Moldova the foreign policy, besides aspects of domestic interest, is determined rather by the behavior of the big players and the interests of the big players,” stated the commentator.
Speaking about the big players, Ion Tăbârță said it should be taken into account the fact that the Republic of Moldova is a state with a specific geographical and geopolitical situation. “It is a state with only two neighbors, situated at the confluency of geopolitical areas and that derived from neo-Latin people, but had been connected to the Slavic area for a long period of time. “For the Republic of Moldova, the foreign factor counts a lot and the geopolitical cleavage in determining what the right and what the left mean in the position of Moldovan political parties derives from here. As to the foreign platers, we have the Russian Federation that has always been a geopolitical player, at least during the past 200-300 years. In particular, geopolitics returned to Russia’s foreign policy after 2000, after Vladimir Putin took over in the Russian Federation. The post-Soviet area, the area in southeastern Europe is of interest to the Russian foreign policy,” stated the commentator, adding that the EU is probably a newer player, but it is not a geopolitical player or this does not understand what geopolitics means. According to him, the EU tried to launch an institutional project at its Eastern border – the Eastern Partnership – to which Russia reacted geopolitically.
Ion Tăbârță said the U.S. is the third player in this region, but this does not show increased or special interest in the Republic of Moldova, but expresses interest in the context of the policy and approach it adopted with respect to the northern coastline of the Black Sea. Besides these three big plays, there are also two regional players – Ukraine, which does not know how to act in the context of the events taking place in Moldova, and Romania which, as many say, is the big loser of these events. He would not yet assert this.
In another development, the commentator said the Democrat Party was an atypical player that knew to negotiate with one party and with another party and simultaneously annihilated the geopolitical aspect. By different methods, it also managed to bring the left and the right together and tried to apply the same internal procedure at the foreign level. Society got tired of that juggling of Vlad Plahotniuc, but that unordinary coalition between the Socialist and the Bloc ACUM is actually not condemned by society. “We will yet see what happens, but I think geopolitics will return to the forefront.”
On June 24, IPN held a public debate entitled “Peaceful transfer of power: reasons, conditions and consequences – the domestic factor” and this involved representatives of the parliamentary Democratic Party and “Dignity and Truth Platform” Party. Representatives of the Shor Party and the Party of Socialists were also invited to the debate, but the invitations remained unanswered.
The public debate “Peaceful transfer of power: reasons, conditions and consequences – the foreign factor” is the 112th installment of the series of debates “Developing political culture through public debates” that are held with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.