The fifth joint meeting of the governments of the Republic of Moldova and Romania was held in the big hall of the Palace of the Republic in Chisinau on February 11. This was followed by the signing of a number of bilateral agreements and protocols. The joint meeting of the governments was preceded by a joint meeting of the legal committee for appointments and immunities of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and the legal committee on appointments, discipline, immunity and validation of the Senate of Romania. The most important signed intergovernmental agreement is the agreement on the provision of €100 million in grant funding by Romania for primarily supplementing the Regional and Local Development Fund that will go for schools, kindergartens, sewerage systems, wastewater treatment stations, street lighting and social entrepreneurship projects. The grant will also be used to implement mass media projects. It is noteworthy that Romania offered a similar grant to the Republic of Moldova in 2014, but the Moldovan side could absorb only one third of this sum, the rest of the amount being blocked by the official Bucharest due to noncompliance with the anticorruption rigors.
Main points of Romanian assistance
The recent joint meeting of the two governments is a gesture of rapprochement and strategic cooperation between the two states situated on the banks of the Prut. It was stated that after a period during which the former governments of the Republic of Moldova had a rather unfriendly rhetoric with regard to Romania, after the government typical of a captured state that upset the agenda with the EU and Romania, the two countries now have a common agenda aimed at fostering the strategic partnership for the European integration of Moldova eastwards the Prut. In this connection, Romania remains the most important advocate of the Republic of Moldova in Brussels, making sustained efforts to bring the Moldovan state closer to integration into the big European family by concrete development and modernization projects.
In his statements following the joint meeting of the governments in Chisinau, Romanian Premier Nicolae Ciucă enumerated the main points of the Romanian assistance for the Republic of Moldova:
- The agreements on non-reimbursable financial assistance of €100 million, construction and reinforcement of border road bridges and reduction of roaming charges;
- Cooperation protocols in education, labor inspection and military education;
- Action plans in the justice and internal affairs sectors;
- Romania provided official development assistance to the Republic of Moldova to a record value of €46.8 million, primarily in education, for scholarships;
- Memorandums of understanding in research, development and innovation, energy security and digital transformation;
- Implementation of the agreement between Romania and the Republic of Moldova on the regulation of the building of water supply systems, signing of the contract on the execution of works on the Măcărești (RO) – Măcărești (RM) underpass on January 24, 2022;
- The Romanian Commodities Exchange already established BRM East Energy that is ready to offer a trading platform for energy products, primarily electricity and natural gas, in conditions of competiveness, transparency and non-discrimination;
- Romania will continue being the Republic of Moldova’s advocate in Brussels;
- Assistance from Romania in strengthening stability and security of the Republic of Moldova.
Strengthening of stability and security
The last point of the Romanian Premier’s statement has a separate connotation amid the worsening of the military crisis around Ukraine. Even if Bucharest didn’t detail its concerns about the Republic of Moldova’s security over the expanding danger of a war on its borders, the addressing of the problem by a NATO member state is an exclusive value that points to special affinity between two states.
Besides the road infrastructure projects, the Romanian official in Chisinau spoke about the energy security of the Republic of Moldova, which is to be ensured by creating alternatives for the supply of natural gas and electrical energy by the model of interconnection between Romania and the Republic of Moldova through the gas distribution network that was already built. At the level of intergovernmental dialogue, it was agreed to identify a solution to store gas for the Republic of Moldova in Romania’s underground reservoirs following the extension of the capacities to supply gas through the Greece-Bulgaria-Romania vertical corridor. This way, the Republic of Moldova’s suffocating dependence on Russian gas will be diminished.
Two sovereign and independent states together in EU
The political message formulated in Chisinau by the Government of Romania, as regards the interstate relationship, remains strictly focused on the idea of existence of two sovereign and independent states whose future is to be together in the European Union. Attention was drawn to the fact that since Romania was accepted as s fully-fledged member of the European Union, its gross domestic product has grown three times, while the gross domestic product per capita has increased four times. This spectacular economic jump of Romania is in marked contrast to the economic development of the Republic of Moldova that, after 30 years of the declaring of its independence, hasn’t yet reached the level of the starting line. In this connection, Romania undertakes to share with the Republic for Moldova all its experience as an EU member state so that the Republic of Moldova has a coherent European integration course and benefits from all the advantages of the accession to the European community.
Prudent approach goes against field political realities
The meeting of the two governments in Chisinau showed that at the level of intergovernmental relations, the sides continue to avoid trenchantly approaching the aspect of identity of the two states, mentioning only the common language, culture and history. But this prudent approach often goes against the field political realities. For example, in his inaugural speech in Chisinau, Premier Ciucă spoke indeed, in a lapidary way, about the problem of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia in the Republic of Moldova. Chisinau avoided discussing this issue in the joint meeting of the governments, but this omission does not lead to the disappearance of the problem.
On the other hand, during his visit to the head office of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia in Chisinau, the Romanian Premier didn’t hesitate to underline the Romanian authorities’ intention to raise the problem of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia in the dialogue with the authorities of the Republic of Moldova. Among the topical issues are:
- Necessity of improving the legislative framework of the Republic of Moldova in the field of religious denominations so that the country aligns itself with the European norms;
- Addressing by the Romanian state of the restoration of the church possessions that were abusively confiscated by the occupant Soviet state in the dialogue with the authorities of the Republic of Moldova;
- Supplementing of the governmental funds earmarked for supporting the clergy of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia;
- Necessity of building new Romanian cathedrals in the municipalities of Chisinau, Bălți and Cahul as centers of Romanian Orthodox spirituality;
- Creation of a stable and permanent framework of cooperation between the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and the Government of Romania for the benefit of the Romanian Orthodox faithful in the Republic of Moldova, including for the development and promotion of the Romanian cultural heritage;
- Displaying of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia’s readiness to cooperate with the central and local authorities of the Republic of Moldova as a social player of major importance.
Another thorny issue that wasn’t raised at the joint meeting of the governments was the request of the National Council of Romanians in Ukraine to design a common approach of the two governments to the Ukrainian authorities for these to fully abandon the glotonim “Moldovan language”. The sides didn’t reach a consensus on the solving of this Romanian identity issue and this was transferred to the agenda of the future discussions.
A unique chance
The fifth joint meeting of the governments of the Republic of Moldova and Romania in Chisinau, the decisions adopted there show that preconditions appeared for the official political recognition of the existence of two Romanian states – Romania and the Republic of Moldova – united by the common language, culture and history. Such a development would open up the way for a prolific pan-Romanian development project that would embrace the homogenization of the legislation of the two states, their close economic, infrastructure, financial and energy, cultural, educational, scientific and social assistance cooperation. The politically formalized presentation of the concept “Two states, one nation” in the case of the two Romanian states will inevitably lead to the exclusion by Brussels of the Republic of Moldova from the Eastern Partnership package, with the country being offered a separate European integration course. It is a unique chance for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova to connect themselves, by the affiliation to the Romanian world, to an individual financing project of the European Union so as to this way break the impasse of a failed state without sustainable development prospects and to ultimately overcome the national division curse.
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.