What Filat took to Washington and what he brought back? IPN analysis

IPN analysis: The chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) Vlad Filat returned from the United States with real and clear results that are yet to be deciphered.

The leader of the PLDM Vlad Filat had recently paid a one-week visit to the U.S. He had a rather full program there, with which an incumbent Premier or head of state wouldn’t have coped. This is quite a new format of international relations for Moldova, based on the political realities in the country. These are in a way the pluses of the government’s dismissal last year.

Evidently, the ex-Premier went to the United Sates with certain purposes and, in order to achieve them, he had to evidently take something there.

Why to Washington and not to Moscow?

First of all, why did he go with messages and after messages to Washington, not to other important capitals of the world? Why not to Moscow, for example, where as urgent problems for Moldova and its people can be discussed? One of the important reasons is that in Washington he is welcome, while Moscow now welcomes now none of the Moldovan leaders. It’s known that the Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman went to Moscow at the start of April to prepare the visit of Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and his meeting with Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev, set for the end of this month. It seems yet that the Russian Prime Minister is too busy to make the time to see his Moldovan counterpart. Neither the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, scheduled for the end of April, took place, definitely not because he wasn’t received by Chisinau. The concern resides not in the fact that topical and past problems in the relations between the two countries cannot be discussed. It’s much more important that this can be now perceived as a not very optimistic indication for the future relations, given that this year is electoral in Moldova. This is also a way of maintaining international and bilateral relations.

Political support and gas pipeline

Thus, one of the leaders of the government coalition was overseas. The many and various meetings he had there centered mainly on Moldova’s national security, together with the energy and information security, and the European integration, all regarded through the angle of the serious regional crisis and the dangers related to it that threaten Moldova. These themes show that the Premier delivered messages there and took some messages home.

Vlad Filat returned home with promises made by officials of different ranks that Moldova will continue to remain in the agenda of the U.S. priorities and these promises cost dear in the conditions of anxiety through which Moldovan society goes following the crisis in the neighboring country. This anxiety is caused by concerns about Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity or even its being or not as a country.

It seems that the Americans agreed to without delay help Moldova to built the Ungheni-Chisinau gas pipeline so that at least a part of the county is not pressurized by threats that they main remain without heat in winter this year, which, I repeat, is a very important one from electoral and political viewpoints. But the pressure may be diminished only in time as the real diversification of the energy resources, by receiving gas from European pipes through Romania, means a serious plus in ensuring the country’s energy security, which is a part of the national security.

Independent media

Some of the influential interlocutors of Vlad Filat assured him that the U.S. has all the possibilities of swiftly contributing to ensuring Moldova’s information security by making investments in developing the independent media outlets. This ‘swiftly’ shows that overseas they realize the unusual situation created in Moldova’s information area after the obtaining of independence, as Chisinau constantly loses the information warfare not only against Moscow, but also against Tiraspol and this is not an abstract confrontation, but a real and permanent battle for the citizens of this country. It’s true that the possible U.S. investments can become useless if the Moldovan political class does not radically change its stance on the status and state of the media in the country. It’s probably good that money was found for increasing the salaries of judges, as an antidote to corruption, but the daily corrupting of the minds of the millions of Moldovans has effects that are billions of times greater. Not even for the national public broadcaster “Teleradio-Moldova” can they find the necessary amounts of money to match the role played by it and the expectations related to the building of this society and this state. The legislative and economic conditions of the media should also be modified ‘swiftly’, in accordance with the same expectations.

Therefore, Vlad Filat brought from Washington clearly uttered political support for the energy security and the information security. What did he leave there instead?

Clear political and geopolitical orientations

First of all, he left clear messages about the political and geopolitical priorities of Moldova, especially as regards its path to European integration. This is not insignificant if we remember that almost all the Moldovan leaders had been supporters of the policy of the ‘obedient lamb that feeds itself from two mothers’ until recently. The clear formulation of these options is worth mentioning especially at a time when there is a crisis in Ukraine, which appeared mainly after the neighbors dared to also be determined in formulations. The danger of a repeat of the Ukrainian scenario for similar reasons seems yet rather real.

The same influential interlocutor agreed that this year Moldova will make not only a political choice, but also a geopolitical one. It’s not hard to realize that this is more than an abstract judgment. The United States rather welcomes and waits for Moldova to ultimately clarify its positions.

What did Filat want to say and didn’t say?

In Washington, Vlad Filat made a statement that is yet to be deciphered. “I cannot tell you today what our small country can offer in response to all the provided support, but I’m sure that this response will be an appropriate one or maybe much greater than we all can imagine. Realities show that the small countries can do great things and can make history,” he said there.

At the moment it’s not very clear if the leader of the PLDM cannot say what he meant because there is no such an answer yet, as it is to be identified and formulated, or because this answer exists but cannot be made public. We thus have to guess what Vlad Filat meant. We should firstly take into account the place where that statement was made – in a speech at the head office of the North Atlantic Council. Afterward, we must analyze the things that are really important for Moldova’s development partners, as the U.S. and the EU are generically called. I don’t think that in the current conditions, Filat referred to Moldova’s entry into the NATO. There are sufficient reasons to refute this hypothesis. But he may have referred to the modification of Moldova’s position on the price for its neutrality, to a more active position than the current passive one. Until now Moldova did nothing but swear everywhere that it does not intend to join NATO, but it wasn’t always believed, despite all the relevant constitutional provisions. Maybe, in exchange for renouncing its sovereign right to join any organization, if this brings benefits and guarantees to it, it should for example request actually resolving the Transnistrian conflict or providing assistance, including financial, for strengthening its national security that is not at all safe given the regional crisis. The row of hypotheses can be continued until conditions are created for the Moldovan authorities to decipher that statement.

‘American sins’ attributed to everyone

This way or another, after this visit to the U.S. Vlad Filat must prepare for a new wave of attacks, which may be even more virulent than now. But this is not a novelty. The novelty is that all the leaders of the government coalition are being attacked, separately or together, with or without pretexts. We should expect that the ‘American sins’ of the one who until recently was described by a part of the opponents as ‘Moscow’s hand’ will be attributed to the whole coalition, even if the current government seems to have found a balanced formula for distributing the responsibilities for the relations with the East and the West. Maybe this ‘joint’ approach of the coalition leaders means that the parties of the ruling coalition will take part in the elections together?

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

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