Moldova’s neutrality between advantages, risks and dangers. IPN debate

This year marks exactly 30 years since the enshrining of the neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has dramatically changed the regional and international security conditions that existed until recently. The impact of the new conditions on the security and independence of the country, which were supposed to be ensured by the neutrality status, the advantages, risks or dangers generated by this status under the new conditions were analyzed by the participants in IPN’s public debate “Moldova’s neutrality between advantages, risks and dangers”.

Igor Boţan,  the permanent expert of IPN’s project, explained that neutrality is the position of a state that does not take part in wars between other powers. International law of neutrality contains three restrictions on the actions of neutral countries during a war between other states. It goes to refraining from involvement with their own armed forces in the conflict of other parties, refraining from making their own territory available to a belligerent party, offering of the country’s territory for use by the conflicting parties (bazaars, transit, flight, etc.) and nondiscrimination of any of the parties through the supply of weapons and military goods. The legal framework of the neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova is established by Article 11 of the Constitution and its interpretation by the Constitutional Court’s judgment of 2 May 2017. The neutrality of the Republic of Moldova was declared unilaterally, not being the consequence of an international treaty.

The expert added that the President is the authority in charge of managing the country’s neutrality status. According to the Constitution’s Article 87 on powers in the field of defense, the President of the Republic of Moldova is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The head of state can, with the Parliament’s prior consent, declare partial or general mobilization. In case of armed aggression directed against the country, the President of the Republic of Moldova shall take measures to repel the aggression, declare a state of war and inform Parliament without delay.

Irina Vlah, head of the Moldova Platform, considers the discussed topic is very important given the serious scarcity of free discussions on such subjects because 12 TV channels were closed, many media channels are engaged in self-censorship, while the authorities use various accusations and put censorship on TV channels. As a result, society is not sufficiently informed and thus democracy is lost in the country. The neutrality status is enshrined in the Constitution, but the Government takes actions that are incompatible with the neutrality policy. Also, citizens, while supporting the principle of neutrality, do not fully understand what it means. There are citizens who believe that neutrality is incompatible with the membership in the EU. Therefore, it is important and necessary to talk about neutrality.

The head of the Moldova Platform added that permanent neutrality means more opportunities for economic development, trade and security of the Moldovan citizens. Unfortunately, the citizens who want to talk about it are subject to information attacks, including on the part of government officials. Similar actions have been taken against her so that she welcomes the opportunity to come to this debate and talk about neutrality.

According to Igor Munteanu, chairman of the Coalition for Unity and Wellbeing (CUB), there is a tradition of discussing neutrality in Europe because Europe has been over the centuries “a theater of wars”. When talking about the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova, it should, on the one hand, be compared with the neutrality of particular states that have traditionally detached themselves from participation in territorial conflicts or belligerent disputes and, on the other hand, we must understand that even the most traditional neutralities have undergone great changes in the last over 30 years. “As Europe has changed, the security context of the continent has also changed. Respectively, politicians are obliged to understand neutrality in a dynamic process so that, through the tools this makes available to the citizens - safety, predictability, internal security - they fulfill their duty of defending the borders and citizens,” said the politician.

According to Igor Munteanu, it is necessary to understand that neutrality must serve citizens and not just be a slogan imposed under certain circumstances in order to please someone. At the same time, politicians have the special mission to educate the citizens and to also give up manipulating important categories from constitutional provisions to impose their own agenda.

The public debate entitled “Moldova’s neutrality between advantages, risks and dangers” was the 299th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”, which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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