We do not surrender country to foreigners? Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“Anyway, the management in 2021 of the gas supply crisis by the young and inexperienced government of PAS seems to be much more honorable than the management of the crisis of 2006, when the firmness of the current BECS leaders ended with a humiliating rout. For the latter ones, the propagandistic slogan “We do not surrender country to foreigners!” should be replaced with an appropriate one – “We do not surrender country to foreignesr; we simply tie it to their interests!…”
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Gas supply crisis – indicator of Moldova’s dependence

The gas supply crisis, especially the conditions imposed by GAZPROM at the start of the negotiations on the new contract, brought back the problem of the Republic of Moldova’s dependence on the Russian Federation at the forefront. The initial intransigence of GAZPROM forced the government to maneuver in search of alternative solutions so as to get rid of the suffocating embrace of the strategic partnership. The critical situation in the energy sector forced the Government to ask Parliament to declare a state of emergency, explaining to the legislative body and the people the measures it intended to take to overcome the crisis. During the period of uncertainty, the support of the development partners, especially of the European Union (EU), turned out to be very useful. Consequently, the Government’s maneuvers, the EU’s support and the direct negotiations resulted in the announcement, on October 29, 2021, of the compromise solution reached with GAZPROM.

Currently, it’s clear that we should have gas during the next five years. We know the formula for calculating the price of the supplied gas with approximation, but don’t know how much the end users of gas will have to pay. Under such circumstances, the current governments should yet find the answer to an essential problem – what should be done to avoid such situations in the future? We know that this is not the first gas supply crisis for the Republic of Moldova. It seems that the answer to the question formulated above can be found in the energy strategy of the Republic of Moldova until 2030, but we convinced ourselves that its provisions are not fulfilled. In this connection, President Maia Sandu, after convoking the Supreme Security Council (SSC) on October 28, over the situation concerning the Republic of Moldova’s energy security, highlighted who is to blame for the energy crisis:

  • the previous irresponsible governments that ruled during these 30 years, which used the energy sector schemes for the own pocket and didn’t do anything for the country not to reach such blockages;
  • those who delayed the construction of the gas pipeline that unites the Republic of Moldova with Romania, which was completed only this year. The power interconnection station hasn’t been yet built and we therefore depend on the Transnistrian regime.
  • those who did almost nothing to ensure the country’s energy security. Almost no money was invested in renewable energy and insignificant amounts were invested in  projects that can help us reduce energy consumption and we would respectively pay less;
  • those who showed to be unable to ensure the Republic of Moldova has gas reservoirs in which we can store natural gas, has instruments for buying from more suppliers, has interconnection with more partners, has national programs to improve the energy efficiency of dwellings, has investments in renewable energy.

In this regard, President Maia Sandu concluded: “Regrettably, we have nothing of these. We only now start to really work to ensure the country’s energy security”.

Satisfaction of Russophile opposition

The pressure exerted by GAZPROM on the government of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) brought great satisfaction to the Russophile opposition. This way, during the period of uncertainty as to the natural gas supplies to the Republic of Moldova, the leaders and propagandists of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) didn’t stop accusing the PAS government of not accepting to kneel down before Russia in exchange for a better price of gas:

  • the chief propagandist of PSRM compiled the list of sins of the PAS government, enumerating its sins in relation to Russia and condemning it for the impudence to have and to state viewpoints that differ from Russia’s. Anticipating the failure to sign a contract for the supply of gas, the propagandist resorted to all kinds of speculations and  forecasts: “GAZPROM offered you $600 for 1,000 cubic meters, but you refused and will this way pay  $1,000” etc.; 
  • the leader of PSRM Igor Dodon, to display his political creed and to increase his importance, resorted to Otto von Bismarck’s quote : “Make alliances with anyone, start wars, but never touch the Russians. Preventive war against Russia is like committing suicide out of fear of death”. Igor Dodon’s pretention to be the pupil of Bismarck is really extremely risky;
  • PCRM’s propagandists also rejoiced, aiming the most embarrassing insults at the Republic of Moldova, highlighting the supposed real cause of the gas problemlet the Moldovans pay, if they do not kneel down, etc.    

It should be noted that to emphasize his special relations with the Russian establishment, PSRM sent a detachment of MPs to Moscow, allegedly trying to persuade this not to punish the Republic of Moldova too harshly owing to the refusal of the young and inexperienced government in Chisinau to show subservience. It is curious that he PSRM’s mission to act as a fawning beggar failed. It turned out that the Russians hate the servile ones, even if they do not avoid profiting from their actions. In contrast to the PSRM’s mission, three days later, on October 29, following talks with representatives of the young and inexperienced government, GAZPROM and Moldovagaz agreed to extend the contract for the supply of gas to the Republic of Moldova for a five-year period. We do not yet know how the extension of the contract will impact the gas price. We can only presume that the price calculation formula will be similar to the formula stipulated in the previous contract. In this regard, the leaders of a number of parties formulated a series of questions to which they wait for answers from the government so as to see if dangerous political concessions weren’t made.  

Déjà vu, after 15 years

We have shown above that in the recent gas supply crisis, the parliamentary opposition of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BECS) was very acid in relation to the young and inexperienced government of PAS. In this context, it is useful to recollect how the current leaders of BECS – Vladimir Voronin, Igor Dodon and Zinaida Grechanyi – coped in a similar situation 15 years ago, in 2006. This way, the current BECS leaders:

Under such circumstances, on December 14, 2005, First Deputy Premier Zinaida Grechanyi opened talks with GAZPROM on the supply of gas to the Republic of Moldova, which lasted for approximately a year and ended with the switchover to European prices. Consequently:

  • towards the middle of 2006 the price of gas for the Republic of Moldova rose twice on average!, from $80 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas to $160. In the second quarter of 2006, the price increased to $255, while in the third quarter to  ~ $300, sometimes exceeding event $400. So, under the rule of the current BECS leaders, the price of gas grew over four times;
  • BECS leader, Vladimir Voronin, ex-President of Moldova, alongside the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko, addressed the following message to the European Union: “Behind Russia’s actions, there is the same planned scenario aimed at exerting energy pressure and blackmail for undermining the economic development of our countries and for destabilizing the social situation inside them...”   

It is as interesting to remember the reactions of the main propagandist of the Communist government of those times, current BECS MP Constantin Starîș: “the authorities showed inability to resist pressure, not to surrender to difficulties... The year 2006 showed once against that the policy to harshly and consistently support the national interests is first of all a pragmatic policy”. In fact, the propaganda is one thing, while the reality is another thing. No matter how firm he was, Voronin ultimately gave up, going first to a horse race so as to come closer to Vladimir Putin and then to Moscow so as to show to the Russian President the plan for regulating the bilateral relations:

  • eulogistic public appreciation  of Russia’s efforts to keep peace in Transnistria and pleading in favor of keeping the Russian military in the region, in the wake of the contrary statements and demands of Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Stratan at the OSCE Summit of Sofia;
  • provision to Transnistria of the status of a region with broad autonomy as part of the Republic of Moldova, offering and ensuring maximum independence for Tiraspol;
  • legalization of the status of neutrality of the eventual “united Moldova”, which would make the perspective of Moldova’s entry into NATO impossible;
  • strengthening of the status of the Russian language on the territory of the Republic of Moldova;
  • guaranteeing of inviolability of the Russian properties on Moldova’s territory, including Transnistria;
  • supporting of the Russian capital’s entry into Moldova in advantageous conditions, etc.

All the aforementioned concessions could not change the European gas prices for the Republic of Moldova.

Conclusions

The recent gas supply crisis is nothing else but the periodical manifestation of the energy dependence of the Republic of Moldova on the Russian Federation. Despite the working out of all kinds of documents and strategies aimed at ensuring the energy security of the Republic of Moldova, the latter continues to be vulnerable and blackmailable from energy viewpoint.

The gas supply crisis underlined the value of the alleged defenders of the interests of the Republic of Moldova. Those who cried about the dangers to statehood and seemed to oppose the concession of the Republic of Moldova to foreigners turned out to be those who turned as the weathercocks in 2006, surrendering the country’s interests for remaining in power.

Anyway, the management in 2021 of the gas supply crisis by the young and inexperienced government of PAS seems to be much more honorable than the management of the crisis of 2006, when the firmness of the current BECS leaders ended with a humiliating rout. For the latter ones, the propagandistic slogan “We do not surrender country to foreigners!” should be replaced with an appropriate one – We do not surrender country to foreigners; we simply tie it to their interests!

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