The Republic of Moldova assumed a set of major reforms, from justice to the economy and from infrastructure to the security zone. All of them were subsumed under the application for EU membership and the separation from the pro-Russian inheritance. Despite the major assistance offered by Romania and other Western partners, some of the reforms are late and cause dissatisfaction with the ruling party PAS in society. If this tendency in promoting the reforms persists long, its consequences will definitely be felt in the future elections, with the revision of the European integration course not being excluded if pro-Russian forces come to power in the Republic of Moldova.
In Europe, together with Ukraine and after Ukraine’s victory
The Maia Sandu – PAS government tries to consolidate Moldovan society, which is profoundly fragmented according to a number of criteria, based on the assumption by the largest part of Moldovan citizens of the values and objective related to the integration into the European Union. At the current stage, the success of this country project is associated with the obtaining of the EU candidate status, while the major goal for the immediate future is identified with the start of negotiations on the Republic of Moldova’s accession into the EU. The final objective, to obtain the EU membership, is to be achieved in 2030, as the current government announced. The path of European integration through the implementation of the project of the Union with Romania was subject to a moratorium by the PAS government, until the adherence of most of the Moldovan citizens to this idea is secured in Moldovan society.
Currently, the Republic of Moldova goes towards the EU together with Ukraine, which is engaged in a war of attrition with Russia. In its attitude to this war, the Republic of Moldova made a principled choice, making a common cause with the people of Ukraine and blaming the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Through such a politically assumed attitude, Chisinau invariably will have a role and a place in the future peace arrangement with which the war will end. The problem resides in the details of this future postwar combination that we today can only intuit in probable variants.
The scoring of a victory by Ukraine in this war is the happiest variant for the Republic of Moldova as this will lead to the harsh limitation of Russia’s imperial ambitions in the post-Soviet space. It seems that the current government in Chisinau built its foreign policy and also its internal policy namely on this scenario. But the developments of the last few months on the theater of war in Ukraine generate serious questions as to the probability of a categorical victory by Ukraine in the military confrontation with Putin’s Russia. This state of uncertainty about the end result of the war becomes increasingly familiar to the Western political elites that massively support Ukraine.
Second variant for end of war
In this connection, the experts’ attention was caught by a long interview given recently by the ex-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, who continues playing an important role in his country’s politics. In this interview, after speaking about the internal policy of France and the criminal case started against him, Sarkozy related how in 2008 he persuaded Vladimir Putin to withdraw his tanks situated close to Tbilisi and why he is sure of the necessity of a dialogue with the Russian President on the war in Ukraine. In particular, Sarkozy reiterated his older position against Ukraine’s entry into the European Union and NATO.
Sarkozy reminded of the profound disagreements he had with Vladimir Putin when he held the presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2008. But he also reminded of the efforts made together with Angela Merkel to set the “red lines” that were to be respected by everyone. As a result, Putin was persuaded to withdraw the tanks that were located at a distance of 25 kilometers from Tbilisi during the Russian invasion of Georgia. Simultaneously, France and Germany refused to support then the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO despite the strong pressure exerted by the U.S.
The ex-President of France is sure that Europe will have to clarify its strategy, especially if the war continues. He noted that diplomacy, discussion, the exchange of opinions remain the only methods by which an acceptable solution can be identified. The former French leader considers that without compromises, nothing will work and there is a risk that everything will get out of control at any moment and the powder keg of war can lead to serious consequences for the whole mankind.
In fact, Sarkozy prefigures a second variant of the evolution of the war in Ukraine, being sure that Ukraine will ultimately not join the European Union and NATO as the role of Ukraine is to serve as a bridge between the West and the East. The accession promises made to Ukraine are false and will not be respected in the same way as the promises made to Turkey have been respected for tens of years. The Sarkozy solution resides in the neutrality of Ukraine, which needs to be ensured through international agreements that would offer emergency security guarantees so as to protect it from any new risks of aggression.
How much is “Sarkozy variant” supported
Sarkozy’s position to the war in Ukraine has been harshly criticized by a part of the French press, but it is far from being the only one in the political amalgam of the West. The perpetuation of the war causes the syndrome of extenuation in Western societies on which Ukraine’s resistance depends decisively. As The Wall Street Journal reported, with reference to dissatisfied officials from the West, the U.S. and key European allies such as Germany want to prevent Russia from winning, but fear the costs and risks of helping Ukraine to full victory. In private, many Western officials don’t think the U.S. and its allies can leave it to Kyiv alone to define the goal. Ukraine’s maximalist aims, they fear, guarantee an endless war. They would like to offer Ukraine carrots to accept the de facto loss of some territory, such as NATO or European Union membership or promises of long-term military and economic aid. The thinking stems from an eagerness to contain a conflict whose shock waves have been felt across the global economy, uncertainty about how long Western voters will support the current levels of aid for Kyiv and disbelief that Ukraine can fully expel Russian forces.
Bucharest and Chisinau take both of variants into account?
The pressing question for Chisinau and for Bucharest in this perspective amounts to the understanding of the fact if sustainable calculations are done in both of the Romanian capitals given the probability that the situation will develop according to the second variant, when peace will be negotiated not only between Kyiv and Moscow, but also in a strategic dialogue between the NATO allies and Russia on the control of arms and the European broad security architecture. This variant for guaranteeing peace in Ukraine and also in Europe in general implies particular compromises in favor of Russia’s interests, including in the post-Soviet space the geopolitical influence over which is so much craved for by Moscow. Are the Romanians assured that, in the eventuality of such a variant coming true, peace and security in Greater Europe will not be paid for with the petty coin of keeping the space of the Republic of Moldova in the Russian sphere of influence? For now, the answer to this question looks to be extremely evasive, risking finding the Romanians as static observers at the future negotiating table on the European postwar geopolitical arrangement.
From this perspective, the Romanians should not have illusions about the observance of their national interests in the enlarged Europe. Surely, no one in the EU and NATO has attitudes that are hostile to the Republic of Moldova or even to Romania. But the major interest of the postwar pan-European security may not correlate perfectly with the interest of restoring the Romanian national unity whose renouncing means degradation of the nation’s vitality. The political classes from both banks of the Prut have the mission of defending and promoting the national unity of the Romanians at international level. To successfully accomplish this mission, a pan-Romanian Country Project is needed and this should be well-articulated and promoted in the great political chancelleries of the world with intelligent insistence. Such a country project implies the separation of the European integration process for the Republic of Moldova from that of Ukraine, with Moldova making use of the possibility of joining the EU through the Union with Romania. For now yet, neither the official Bucharest nor the official Chisinau show understanding of the crucial necessity of the pan-Romanian Country Project, unpardonably wasting the time of the historic offer of the moment that opens up limited time opportunities for achieving the ideal of the Romanian national unity.
IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.