European Political Community – Europe without aggressive Russia. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“It is important that the supporters of the Russian World clarify themselves when Russia was an empire of good: in the tsarist times, when it was a prison of nations or in the Soviet times, when it was totalitarian? Furthermore, the supporters of the Russian World should think why they would believe that Russia in the future can become an empire of good if in the past they had only the experience of an empire of evil – prison of nations and totalitarianism?...

Reactions of response to aggression

The idea of the European Political Community (EPC) was launched at a distance of about two months of the launch of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It happened after the Putinist regime ventured to place Europe in front of an accomplished fact through a blitzkrieg, which marked the start of the fulfillment of the pretentions to regain the territories of the former Soviet empire. It should be noted that the bloody adventure was preceded by the energy blackmail of Europe, which, according to the Putinist propaganda, should have discouraged the involvement of Europe in support of Ukraine’s resistance and then of other ex-Soviet republics.

Ukraine’s desperate resistance during the first months of Russia’s aggression was enough to motivate the international community and the European leaders to find responses to the mentioned provocations. The economic response was manifested instantaneously, by the gradual harshening of the economic-financial sanctions against the Putinist regime. In about a year and a half of the start of the invasion, the sanctions witnessed ten successive stages. The military response was manifested by the creation, in April 2022, of the Ramstein platform on which the defense ministers of over 50 states meet once in two months to decide what military support to offer to Ukraine. Ultimately, given the inefficiency shown by the official international bodies of which Russia forms part, in May 2022 there was launched the European Political Community with the intention of uniting all the European states on an informal platform of the highest level to find responses to the most pressing problems through the agency of dialoge.

This way, in approximately 80 years of the end of World War II, we are witnessing the manifestation of the effects of the revanchist aggression of the so-called Russia-Belarus Union State against Ukraine and to the response reactions of the other European states. Evidently, it goes to ad-hoc responses and it would be wrong to believe that they can be efficient from the first iterations. However, we can presume that while Europe will be confronting the Russia-Belarus Union, the most efficient mechanisms for discouraging the aggressors will be identified.  

EPC Summits and their solutions

The first EPC Summit held in Prague in October 2022 agreed the range of problems that are faced by Europe following the launch of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the response measures: a) supporting Ukraine from financial, humanitarian, political and military viewpoints with the aim of discouraging the Russian aggression; b) ensuring security in the countries of the Black Sea Basin and the Baltic states; c) combating cybernetic attacks on the part of Russia; d) finding efficient responses to get rid of Russia’s energy blackmail so as to reduce the natural gas prices to a level that is justified from economic viewpoint, etc.

The second EPC Summit that was held in the Republic of Moldova on June 1, 2023 confirmed the European states’ interest in the dialogue on this platform. The leaders of 45 European states and the senior leadership of the European Union (EU) took part in the summit, which is a proof of the utility and necessity of the EPC. Out of those invited, only the representatives of Turkey and San Marino didn’t take part. For such a high level of participation and representation, preparatory activity and a suitable agenda are required. Discussions on the issue existed also ahead of the Prague summit, including the institutionalizations of the EPC by establishing a permanent secretariat, which would have a budget for preparing the subsequent meetings. This ides for now does not enjoy broad support owing to fears that bureaucratization can cause harm to flexibility in identifying and reacting to pressing problems faced by the European continent. That’s why the existing format remains preferable, the organization of summits remaining the task of the host states that are informally supported by the EU so as to underline the equality of the participants and not to allow the EU agenda to prevail over the interests of the non-EU states.

Among the main subjects discussed at the EPC Summit in the Republic of Moldova were those discussed in Prague and a series of new aspects, including those proposed by Ukraine and the host of the event: European unity in front of the Russian aggression; European security seen through the angle of Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky’s proposals to support Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the enlargement of the EU; addressing of the problem of unsolved conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan and between Serbia and Kosovo.

What did the Republic of Moldova gain as a result of EPC Summit?

The EPC Summit held in the Republic of Moldova represented an issue of internal debate between the supporters of the country’s European integration and its opponents. The latter resorted to the launch of all kinds of messages and information to diminish the importance or even to ridicule the event. To respond to the question invoked with insistency about the Republic of Moldova’s benefits from the organization of the summit, President Maia Sandu addressed a message to the country’s citizens. Among the political and security advantages for the Republic of Moldova, the President underlined the considerable financial support, referring to the announcement made on the eve of the summit by the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen. In this regard, the latter refereed to the revision of the Economic Development and Investment Plan for the Republic of Moldova, which was initiated in June 2021 and whose budget was raised from €600 million to €1.6 billion: Respectively, our country will be able to take part in a number of programs intended for the private sector and in investment projects. I remind you that this program is implemented through the agency of international financial institutions, such as the EBRD and the EIB, and envisions a wide range of instruments, such as loans, guarantees, risk insurance, and donations. These resources represent opportunities for our companies and will contribute to developing the economy

On the other hand, the European Parliamentary Research Service published a résumé on the summit, underlining that the choosing of the Republic of Moldova as the host of the second EPC Summit is a very powerful signal in favor of the country’s European aspirations.  The support for these aspirations of the EU has also a very solid financial component: a) towards May 2023, the EU has doubled its macro-financial assistance for Moldova, this reaching a total of €295 million; b) temporary liberalization of trade for seven categories of key Moldovan agricultural products; c) synchronization of Moldova’s electricity network with the European one and acceptance on the European Energy Platform so as to avoid blackmail and dependence on Russian gas; d) provision in November 2022 of a €200 million energy support package for satisfying the gas supply needs; e) announcing of €80 million in assistance for contributing to strengthening resilience and Moldova’s capacity to counteract hybrid threats; d) announcing of support for restoring the Republic of Moldova’s infrastructure etc.

Empire of good – alternative to Europe?

So, the EPC was founded in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. However, despite the sustained efforts to discourage the aggression, we need to take into account the fact that the authoritarian Putinist regime has immense resources to maintain the tense situation in the region for an indefinite period of time. In such a situation, it is important to realize the eventual scenarios of the Putinist regime. The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is the most recent platform where these scenarios were formulated. In this forum, one of the ideologists of the Russian imperialism, Alexandr Dugin, spoke about three possible scenarios for the development of Russia until 2040: a) capitulation to the West; b) promotion of an economic and technological recovery policy, resorting to industrialization through the substitution of imports, which anyway cannot ensure Russia’s sovereignty; c) building of the “Russian World”), if the goal is to follow the path of sovereign civilization and building of an unearthly Russia, which abides by itself only and refuses to comply with models from outside is borders. Respectively, until 2040 Russia must fully commit itself to the path of anti-Western development: “We follow one direction, while the West follows another direction… This way, the Russians have built an empire of good during centuries and follow the path to the set goal”. Evidently, Dugin was invited to the given economic forum not simply for attendance. His message pursued the goal of mobilizing society in favor of the aggression against Ukraine. 

In the mentioned circumstances, the citizens of the Republic of Moldova can decide by themselves the suitable path – European integration or eventual diving into the Russian world. The first two scenarios depicted by the imperialist ideologist Dugin are unacceptable for Russia. Therefore, it would be senseless for the Republic of Moldova to eventually renounce the European integration for the sake of a future that Russia itself does not want. As regards the third scenario – building of the Russian World as an empire of good – several moments should be noted here. First of all, we should bear in mind that during about 70 years of existence of the USSR, the latter developed broad historiography of the tsarist empire as the prison of nations, based on the works of the Bolshevik leaders Lenin and Stalin. Secondly, the Republic of Moldova, alongside the other ex-Soviet republics, declared its independence from the Soviet empire that was a totalitarian one and that committed monstrous crimes against humanity as a result of which tens and tens of millions of people died during: a) the civil war of 1918-2023; b) the Holodomor organized for the sake of industrialization; c) deportation of enemies of the people to GULAGs, d) Stalinist terror; e) use of punitive psychiatry against dissidents, etc.

Theme for reflection

In light of the aforementioned, it would be useful to the opponents of the European integration of the Republic of Moldova and the supporters of the coming close to the Russian World to ponder over the three scenarios for the development of Russia, which were articulated in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. It is important that the supporters of the Russian World clarify themselves when Russia was an empire of good: in the tsarist times, when it was a prison of nations or in the Soviet times, when it was totalitarian? Furthermore, the supporters of the Russian World should think why they would believe that Russia in the future can become an empire of good if in the past they had only the experience of an empire of evilprison of nations and totalitarianism?     

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