A new government usually means new emphases in the country’s foreign policy. The election campaign witnessed rather contradictory things related to the country’s foreign policy after the elections. Experts invited to IPN’s debate “Snap elections 2021: What happened, what can happen at foreign level” discussed how real the dangers invoked by some of the election contenders are and what shape the foreign policy can have since the start of the government period.
According to Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Science at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, in general, the foreign factor and foreign policy in a very independent world, like that of the 21st century, are extremely efficient in influencing the political processes in small countries that dependent on foreign factors, like the Republic of Moldova. Many things that happen outside the Republic of Moldova can influence also the electoral process, the election outcome, etc. This was clear last year, in the presidential elections. In this year’s parliamentary elections, there was not influence of interference, but rather direct influence on the political process in the Republic of Moldova.
“In general, even if the Republic of Moldova is a sovereign state and pursues it domestic and foreign policy in an autonomous way at least theoretically, what happens at foreign level probably influences the situation inside the county, either it goes to all kinds of hybrid influences from the East or assistance for the development of the country and implementation of reforms that comes from the West. Particular foreign factor and political vibrations that come from the East and from the West influence the Republic of Moldova,” stated Dionis Cenușa.
In another development, the researcher said that when a country is recognized internationally, like Moldova is, the agreements signed by this become mandatory on the country’s territory. The Moldovan authorities are obliged to create mechanisms by which to implement the commitments undertaken at foreign level, regardless of the type of government in Chisinau. Being a small country, Moldova, like Georgia, Ukraine and other countries from the EU’s neighborhood that signed Association Agreements, invited the EU to become an important player on the national political arena as the reforms are done with the assistance of the EU and its member states. But the political affiliation of the participants in the political or electoral process intervenes here in Moldova’s case.
“Now PAS and President Maia Sandu have particular geopolitical affiliation – they are pro-European political forces. Any presence of the European factor is now automatically interpreted by the political rivals of PAS and President Maia Sandu as interference or attempt to influence the political processes in the country. But this is rather political than fact-based interpretation as the meetings of the representatives of foreign states with representatives of the Moldovan authorities cannot influence the voters’ decision. And this thing cannot be avoided as the same has been done by the pro-Russian forces when Igor Dodon met with the President of the Russian Federation for tens of times, even after he was dispossessed of the office of President by democratic ways, and he continues to maintain the ties, including the informal ones, in Russia, Belarus etc. Ultimately, it is the political players that use the geopolitical factor to simplify communication with the voters that exert influence,” stated Dionis Cenușa.
Mark Mazureanu, specialist in compared policies and international relations, noted the foreign factor influences the Republic of Moldova. “Nature does not accept vacuums. When a matter vacuum or, in our case, a power vacuum appears, this is compensated by foreign authority. Democracy exteriorizes democracy and authoritarianism exteriorizes authoritarianism,” he stated. According to him, if a democratic poll is very powerful, it projects a lot of democracy and values to the neighboring states. The same happens to the authoritarian states. The question is to what extent the autocratic states or authorities can influence things?”.
Mark Mazureanu said the international commitments have an impact on Moldova because the country is too small to be autonomous. “The non-observance of the international commitments means that the rest of the players close the eyes and then warn you and exclude you from the game. The exclusion from the game makes you play alone, which means playing with yourself. Examples of such state formations are the Transnistrian region, Ossetia and others. The non-inclusion in an international circuit means lack of economic support and assistance in international development, exclusion from the international circulation process. If Moldova wants to risk being excluded, it can do it, but it’s not the case to resort to such radicalism”.
In another development, Mark Mazureanu stated that if Moldova is the only player on the board, it can be said that no one influences it, but there are many players and all of them evidently influence each other. The question is to what extent Moldova’s economic power can prevent others from interfering? The expert said he does not know if Moldova refused any assistance from Russia, China. It can probably refuse assistance from North Korea, but would not refuse aid from other players that are not on the same value wave.
According to the specialist, if the European Union or different players come from the West with assistance to Moldova and exert influence through this assistance, this is not a problem. There are two types of influence. Public influence is when the representatives of international organizations meet with representative of the public authorities of Moldova openly, transparently, visibly. It is another thing when bags with money are transmitted for particular parties in very invisible ways and this becomes known purely accidentally. “When vehicles loaded with money cross the border, this is dangerous influence,” stated Mark Mazureanu.
The public debate “Snap elections 2021: What happened, what can happen at foreign level?” is the 198th installment of the project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is implemented by IPN with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.