Laurențiu Pleșca: Status of neutrality does not imply lack of national defense

The Republic of Moldova must strengthen its defense and security capabilities and intensify its contacts with partners in the European Union and NATO, policy researcher at the German Marshall Fund, the U.S., Laurențiu Pleșca, stated in a public debate hosted by IPN News Agency. According to the expert, Moldovan politicians, who promote the narrative of the “struggle for peace” without strengthening defense, indirectly promote Moscow’s rhetoric and aim to seize power.

Laurenţia Pleșca noted that the status of neutrality does not protect the Republic of Moldova from a possible danger on the part of the Russian Federation. The Republic of Moldova must increase its defense capability following the example of neutral states with traditions - Switzerland and Austria - which invest massively in national security

“The status of neutrality does not imply the lack of national defense. We have the example of neutral states, such as Switzerland, Austria, which invest a lot in the national army. The defense budget of the Republic of Moldova had been neglected since Independence. The previous governments, especially those oriented towards the East, fully ignored the defense. Now the defense budget is 0.6% of the GDP after the current government doubled the defense budget. We had the Nistru war in 1992, when the Republic of Moldova was only formed. That’s why the policemen fought, not the national army. Since then, we have lessons to be learned. The Republic of Moldova needs military capabilities. To better understand why there is a need to increase military capabilities, we should also refer to the situation in the Transnistrian region, which is a challenge,” stated Laurențiu Pleșca, who is from the Republic of Moldova.

According to the expert, the pro-Russian governments, which ruled the Republic of Moldova, deliberately ignored the defense and security sectors in order to keep the country in the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. Now the Republic of Moldova must intensify its relations with the EU and NATO in order to ensure its security and prosperity.

“Together with the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine, the authorities of the Republic of Moldova started to understand that the military sector needs to be reanimated. There is the national security strategy that is quite a courageous one, and the allocation of money to the defense sector is a key indicator of a country’s commitment to its own security. I believe that the underfunding of the Moldovan armed forces was premeditated because no attempt to revive this very important sector had been made earlier. The Republic of Moldova is a neutral state because, after the Nistru war, the authorities of that time unfortunately adopted the status of neutrality despite the fact that foreign military troops were stationed and continue to be stationed illegally on the territory of the country. I consider it is appropriate to take steps to strengthen the defense and contacts with partners in the European Union and NATO,” said Laurențiu Pleșca.

According to the expert, pro-Russian politicians in the Republic of Moldova use the narrative of the “struggle for peace” on the Kremlin’s instruction to discourage the improvement of the country’s military capabilities. To debunk the misinformation, the Moldova authorities must communicate their intentions in the fields of defense and security.

“Those who promote the “struggle for peace” try to convince the citizen of the Republic of Moldova that neutrality is a solution, that military alliances such as NATO are warmongering. These narratives represent a great risk to state institutions because they include political destabilization, loss of trust in state institutions and can affect the European integration process in the Republic of Moldova. These disinformation campaigns can create panic in society. There was a feeling of panic at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, but things moderated because the Russian army has not reached Odessa. Respectively, it does not represent a direct danger at present. However, there is another danger, of hybrid warfare. The actors who promote the so-called struggle for peace indirectly promote Moscow’s interests. There is also a political interest in occupying positions and taking power, but there is no sincere interest in ensuring the protection of citizens. Here the state has thought of a solution. It is the Center for Strategic Communication and Combating Disinformation, which is meant to combat this kind of falsehoods. It is important to systematically inform the citizen of the Republic of Moldova about what is happening in the region and at domestic level too. The pro-Russian forces have stepped up their efforts like never before,” said the expert.

The public debate entitled “What interests does “struggle for peace” hide in wartime?” was the 307th installment of the series “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. The project is supported by the German “Hanns Seidel” Foundation.

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