Public debate: Why is a defense agreement with EU necessary?

Press Release
on the organization of the debate “Why is a defense agreement with EU necessary?
Debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”

Held on 17 may 2024, Debate No. 305 brought together: Former Minister of Defense Anatol Șalaru, For his party, former Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Gheorghe Balan, an expert in security issues and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.

Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, said that the security and defense sectors of a state aim to defend the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country, to protect the constitutional order, to guarantee and ensure the safety of citizens and their property and also to secure the socioeconomic development of the country.

“The legal framework regulating the mentioned areas is based on the Constitution, the laws of the Republic of Moldova on which the political will expressed in policy documents, such as the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Moldova, is based. The defense state institutions are the President’s Office, the Government and its specialized institutions, namely the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the specialized institutions that are not part of the Government, such as the Security and Intelligence Service,” explained the expert.

Igor Boțan noted that the given institutions act based the legislation that develops the principles set out in the Constitution. He numerated a number of laws, including the Law on National Defense, the Law on the State Border of the Republic of Moldova, the Law on Airspace Control, the Law on Training of Citizens for the Defense of the Homeland, the Law on the Status of Foreign Military Force in the Republic of Moldova, the Law on the State of Emergency, Siege or War, etc.

Former Minister of Defense Anatol Șalaru said that an agreement referring to state security is usually not published and is not subject to public debate. In his opinion, the agreement between Moldova and the European Union most likely covers the areas of cooperation to enhance Moldova’s defense capability. “The European Union doesn’t have an army and doesn’t provide security guarantees because this is not the EU’s field of activity. The European Union doesn’t give security guarantees to its own members either because it cannot offer them, cannot fight Russia or consolidate, form an army now. But at the same time, taking into account the fact that the Republic of Moldova’s state institutions are very weak, I believe that the EU has provided support for strengthening these institutions, such as the SIS, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense,” stated the ex-minister.

At the same time, Anatol Șalaru believes that, through the specialized services of the member states, the European Union will support the Republic of Moldova in counteracting the hybrid war that Russia is waging against Moldova and not only. In his opinion, emphasis will be placed on strengthening the information protection capacity because the state has very big shortcomings in this regard. “We can presume a lot about the content of this agreement, but now we can only talk about what we would like this document to contain. However, the Republic of Moldova, the government, has great faults in terms of communication, in combating the hybrid war, the attempts to destabilize the situation in the Republic of Moldova. And without the support of EU member countries, we cannot today cope with the war declared by Russia and waged by Russia against us. At the same time, of course, some will use this document to make accusations and disseminate unfounded rumors that Moldova will be drawn into a war, that we will receive military aid, which is not true,” said the former minister.

According to him, Moldova doesn’t receive military aid from the European Union. “I would very much like the NGOs, the government, the centers of the government to explain very clearly to the citizens what it is all about, what help we will receive from the EU and what the consequences are because this document is not directed against an ethnic group in the Republic of Moldova or against parties, but is aimed at strengthening our defense capability. Defense is not just the Ministry of Defense. It means security. For example, is finance part of state security or not? Because, if the financial sector is destabilized, we don’t give a damn about the state security of the Republic of Moldova. This includes cybersecurity. Some mix up state security with tanks, but the ordinary citizens must be informed and educated to understand why strong state institutions are needed,” stated Anatol Șalaru.

For his party, former Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Gheorghe Balan, an expert in security issues, said that it is the duty of those who know and have access to information to inform the population so as to avoid speculation. As far as he knows, this document has been in the works for a long time and Russia’s massive attack on Ukraine was an impetus to discuss such issues. “States that are neutral like the Republic of Moldova, which have no other defense levers, must identify them. We see the example of Ukraine, which also seeks to sign security cooperation agreements with different states so as to resist the war and the attack from the Russian Federation,” noted the expert.

Gheorghe Balan said that the agreement with the EU has no military provisions. It refers rather to the risks faced by the security and defense sectors of the Republic of Moldova. “First of all, we need to draw attention to the risks, the hybrid risks, to which we can be exposed. It goes to cybersecurity and information security, countering propaganda, building resilience and critical infrastructure, including all our security institutions, capacity building, etc. From what I have seen from the press, there will be aspects related to the purchase of equipment for the Republic of Moldova jointly or through EU instruments. This offers us more concessions including regarding the prices,'” said Gheorghe Balan.

According to him, taking into account the fact that Moldova is already an EU candidate country, it must gradually integrate into this security sector as well. “We must explain to the population that there is nothing unordinary here, that it is normal to bring the national security and defense standards to the level of the European ones. This document supports the Moldovan authorities in the context of the European integration process. At the same time, regarding resilience and change of perception, as we are at present a neutral state, we must be able to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. It’s good when you are part of a military bloc. In this case, the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, but this agreement doesn’t run counter to the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova, but comes with clear, palpable instruments for the Moldovan authorities to be able  fulfill their obligation to defend the sovereignty and integrity with the available resources,” opined the former Deputy Prime Minister.

The public debate entitled “Why is a defense agreement with the EU necessary?” was the 305th installment of the series “Developing political culture through public debates”. The project is carried out by IPN News Agency with the support of the German “Hanns Seidel” Foundation..

The Agency published 4 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 17.05.24, „ Why is a defense agreement with EU necessary? IPN debate; “Anatol Șalaru: EU does not want to leave Moldova in a gray area”; ; Gheorghe Bălan: Russia’s threats made EU to consider a solution for Moldova”;-; „ Igor Boțan: Future defense agreement with EU stems from new national security strategy”;

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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