In Moldovan society, we have long witnessed an anemic debate on the opportunity of our state’s membership in the CIS. The definition given to the CIS by Putin earlier is also known. He described this interstate organization as a method of “civilized divorce of the former Soviet republics”. However, as time showed, the divorce hasn’t been completed yet and contributes to the appearance of new reasons for extending the life of CIS.
From unity of Slavic states to unity of poor countries...
It is known that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was created by the signing, on December 7-8, 1991, in a residence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, of an agreement on the founding of the Union of Slavic States, which was later changed as the agreement on the founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States, known also as the Belovezh Accords. The Republic of Moldova joined the economic platform of the CIS in 1994, ignoring the military-political component of this organization, making reference to its constitutional status of neutrality. The CIS, at different stages of its existence, incorporated all the former Soviet republics, except for the Baltic states. From the very beginning, these considerably dissociated themselves form the Soviet inheritance in the form of the CIS and this fact, as it is well known, permitted them to become fully-fledged members of one of the most elitist clubs of the most developed countries of the world – the European Union – starting with 2004. Today, it is generally accepted that the former Baltic Soviet republics are ahead of all the CIS member states in terms of economic and social development and of the level and quality of life of their citizens.
... that pose a threat to most of its members
Georgia and Ukraine left the CIS and both of these sovereign countries were subject to military aggression on the part of Russia and, as result, lost parts of their national territory. For the Republic of Moldova, the free trade and visa-free travel between the parties were the main attractiveness of the CIS. Nevertheless, the free trade regime was shortly seriously violated by the imposition of Russian economic bans on a number of Moldovan goods and by the political, economic and other types of support offered by Moscow to the separatist regime in Tiraspol. This marked the beginning of the territorial fragmentation of the young Moldovan state that has lasted for three decades. The direct result of the orientation of the Moldovan economy to the cooperation ties within the CIS for the Republic of Moldova was the obtaining of the status of the poorest country in Europe even if among the members of this post-Soviet interstate organization are countries with a lower development level than Moldova.
Moldova’s presence in the CIS turned into an existential danger when the political leaders from the Kremlin started to show growing imperial reflexes that more evidently reveal their intention to restore the so-called inheritance of ”historical Russia” into which the whole post-Soviet space is included first and foremost. The CIS, by definition, is a codified expression of this space incorporated into an interstate entity and, consequently, is the object of the imperial claims of Putin’s Russia.
Failure of CIS model for Moldova
In such conditions, the Republic of Moldova for a long period of time had ambiguously consumed the efforts in search of a successful socioeconomic and political development model that it could not find in the CIS. It would have been normal for the viewpoints of the Moldovan political class and society in general to turn mainly to the experience of the Baltic states, which is to the personified development model of the European Union. The failure of the CIS-type development model became evident even for the Moldovan political forces that, by the example of the Moldovan Communists, who overwhelmingly won the parliamentary elections of 2001 on the slogan of Moldova’s accession to the Russia-Belarus union, had shortly to abandon this in favor of the policy of European integration of the Republic of Moldova.
Today, the Republic of Moldova already benefits from the EU candidate status. It is not a secret to anyone that Moldova received this status primarily as a result of Russia’s military aggression against the neighboring Ukraine. Russia started a war against Ukraine in order to stop the movement to the West of the former Soviet republics that Moscow treats as its backyard. But the former colonies of Moscow look at the West as at a civilizational development model that is opposed to the Eurasian development model that is based on Russia dominated geopolitics. In this logic of civilizational development, Moldova’s presence in the CIS that is under the decisive influence of an increasingly aggressive Russia seems to be a progressively intolerable geopolitical dissonance that threatens national security and the future of our state and its people.
Gradual withdraw from CIS is a solution
In this logical context, it is rather evident that the Republic of Moldova’s simultaneous presence in the CIS and the EU is impossible. However, the full affiliation of Moldova to the EU is the practical objective of the next decade, if the unionist project is not taken into account in this perspective. Consequently, for the Republic of Moldova, the gradual withdrawal from the CIS seems to be the most acceptable solution. Moreover, a sudden rupture of the ties with the CIS will lead to a series of difficulties in the relations with Tiraspol and Moscow will most probably use this situation to grow tensions in Transnistria.
At the same time, it should be clear that at the current stage of European integration of our country, the Transnistrian conflict cannot fundamentally hamper this process, if only someone from Moscow does not decide to use Transnistria as a trampoline for a military invasion of Moldova. Nevertheless, the events of the last few months clearly show what fatal mistakes the Kremlin strategists can make in the calculations concerning their imperialist plans. Someone should not think that the international community didn’t draw the necessary conclusions from its past policy to tolerate the military aggression of Russia and that Moscow will be endlessly allowed to swallow not only separate parts, but also whole territories of sovereign states. Russia, with its aggressive policy, already turned the Republic of Moldova into an EU accession candidate. By a new military adventure, it can also contribute to the definitive restoration of the Romanian national unity in the not too distant future.
IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.