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Moldova to get observer status in Russian-led Eurasian Union

 
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 07:05
 
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by Giovanbattista Varricchio (EPOS)
EPOS Insights

 

Newly elected President Igor Dodon is moving the poorest country of Europe back to the East side of the continent. Dodon is the head of the Moldovan Socialist Party and won presidential elections in November 2016 in a harsh second ballot against the pro-Western candidate Maia Sandu. The main features of his program were the concept of “neutrality” between East and West and the promotion of Orthodox traditional values, together with the safeguard of Moldovan national identity, against exogenous and indogenous attempts of unification with Romania. In this context, Dodon presented himself as a man of dialogue that wants to restore good relations with Russia, partially collapsed after a pro-Western government in Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the European Union. In its turn Russia – Chisinau's major trading partner – decided to decrease its import from Moldova, causing enormous harm to the already poor national economy. In addition, good relations with Russia does not mean just trade and economics.

The important issue of Moldovan territorial integrity is at stake: Dodon in fact promised to keep good relations with the breakaway Russian – speaking Pridnestrovie Moldovan Republic, well known as Transnistria. The region is internationally recognized as part of Moldova but is de facto independent since 1990, after a civil war broke out and the consequent intervention of a Russian peacekeeping operation. Russian official aim is to bring the parties involved in the conflict closer to an agreement that could grant to Transnistria a high degree of autonomy under the sovreignty of Moldova.

To move closer to Russia is thus a necessary strategy for Moldova to gain advantages from both trade and politics. One of the most important changes introduced by Dodon to this extent is to try to get Moldova in the sphere of influence of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a regional agreement on which Russian President Vladimir Putin has been very much committed. This international organization involves some countries of the so-called Post-Soviet states, namely: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kirgyzstan and that provides for a Costum Union between its own members, opened to the creation of Free Trade Agreements with other countries in the world. At the moment Vietnam is the only country wich was allowed to sign a FTA with the Eurasian Union, but many others such as Israel, Egypt, Iran and Serbia are working to obtain a similar target.

As for Moldova, a Memorandum of Cooperation between Moldova and the Eurasian Union was signed in Chisinau on 3rd of April, an agreement that President Dodon defined as a mean to take back Russian market. Moreover Dodon asked to the Commission of the Eurasian Union to consider the admission of his country as observer in the organization. The issue has been discussed in the 14th of April in Bishkek (Kirgyzstan) during a meeting of the Supreme Council of the EEU, that is to say the most important organism of the regional organization, made up of the head of states of its members. In that occasion, Dodon was also invited and the Moldovan demand to obtain observer status was approved by unanimity of all the Presidents: Vladimir Putin from Russia, Aleksandr Lukashenko from Belarus, Serzh Sargsyan from Armenia, Nursultan Nazarbaev from Kazakhstan and Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kirgyzstan that was hosting the meeting and that officially declared the result of the discussion. The decision has been warmly welcomed by Dodon that stated that the Republic of Moldova is “destined to be friend of both West and East, mantaining and strenghtening its neutrality and statehood”.

Dodon also underlined how the Memorandum of Cooperation as well as the observer status in the EEU that will be granted to Moldova does not mean that Moldova is going to became a full-fladged member state of the EEU and that the deepening of the links with the Eurasian Union will not demage the relation with the European Union. The most important political problem for Dodon now is that Moldova is not a presidential republic, but a parliamentary one and that the Parliament is still dominated by a pro-Western majority. In fact the whole process provoked many criticism among representatives of Moldovan national institutions: for instance the Prime Minister Pavel Filip underlined that because of the institutional asset of the country, the agreement carries no legal effects and that agreements signed by the President must be ratified by the Parliament.

The same remark has been pointed out by the Speaker of Moldovan Parliament Andrian Candu, that also declared: “any observer status in any organization does not violate the provisions and our relations with the European Union”.

In conclusion, Moldova remains a highly divided country whose tensions spread from the poverty of its people, to the need for safe and large markets for its exports being these markets the Eurasian or the European one. Also at social level, tension between Romanian-speaking and Russianspeaking people put Moldova on danger about its very existance: on the one hand in fact Transnistrian leadership clearly declared that is not going to have a deal with Moldova which will put into question Transinistrian sovereignty; on the other hand some Romanian nationalists in Romania and Moldova are seeking the unification of the two countries under Romanian rule.

The challenge of Moldovan leadership will be first of all to move in foreign policy questions with extreme attention in order to get benefits from trade dealing with EU and EEU but in doing so it has to avoid too much radical moves to mantain its own internal social peace, a quite hard duty at the moment.

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s


Last modified on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 07:12
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