Moldova in the EaP after the Vilnius Summit

Article published on Feb. 6, 2014
Article published on Feb. 6, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

The international conference was organized on 5th of February by the Helsinki Civic Assembly of Moldova and International Foundation for Better Governance (Bruxcells). It`s main aim was to get together public persons and opinion formers from Moldova and not only who hold different approaches toward the dimension of the external policy of Moldova. 

    It`s worth to re­mind that Re­pub­lic of Moldova ini­tialed the As­so­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with EU dur­ing the 3rd East­ern Part­ner­ship Sum­mit in Vil­nius on 27th of No­vem­ber, 2013. Mean­while even the very last sur­veys re­cently pub­lished in the media show that there is no con­sen­sus in the Mol­da­vian so­ci­ety about the di­men­sion the coun­try should go in. Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey done by the Slo­vak At­lantic Com­mis­sion in the part­ner­ship with the Cen­ter of In­de­pen­dent Jour­nal­ism (Moldova) in the frame­work of the pro­ject “En­large­ment of the Eu­ro­pean di­a­logue in Moldova” 44% of re­spon­dents are sym­pa­thisants of the EU and 40% of par­tic­i­pants of the sur­vey think that it`s bet­ter if Moldova goes with the Cus­toms Union – the or­ga­ni­za­tion set up by Rus­sia where Be­larus and Kaza­khstan al­ready joined.

     The top­i­cal­ity of the con­fer­ence is in­dis­putable also be­cause of the fact that it was held right after three days passed from the ref­er­en­dum held in the au­tonomous Moldovan re­gion of Gagauzia. Peo­ple had to choose whether they want Moldova to be­come a mem­ber of EU or the Cus­toms Union. Within the turnout more than 70 per­cent in a sep­a­rate ques­tion 97.2 per­cent were against closer EU in­te­gra­tion.

     The panel of speak­ers on the con­fer­ence was quite im­pres­sive: EU diplo­mats, Mol­da­vian politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts and econ­o­mists, the philoso­pher and writer from Ro­ma­nia Vasile Ernu, the head of the As­so­ci­a­tion “Sup­pli­ers of the Cus­toms Union” Oleg Nogh­in­skii.

    James Whil­son, di­rec­tor of the EU-Ukraine Busi­ness Coun­cil and one of the co or­ga­niz­ers of the event told that the Agree­ment signed in Vil­nius is much more an eco­nom­i­cal issue and not a po­lit­i­cal one. “The agree­ment will help Moldova to over­come un­em­ploy­ment by at­tract­ing more in­ter­na­tional in­vestors. Un­for­tu­nately cor­rup­tion re­mains a huge prob­lem for Moldova so there is a lot of changes needed for im­prov­ing and sup­port­ing the rule of law” – he said.

The Mol­da­vian po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Bog­dan Tirdea wasn’t` the same op­ti­mistic. He ex­pressed his re­grets in re­gard to changes of the pri­mary aims of the EaP : “What is the sense of invit­ing the coun­try to be­come your part­ner with­out of­fer­ing a chance to be­come a mem­ber? ” – asked him the EU rep­re­sen­ta­tives.  He made a con­clu­sion that EaP isn`t a part­ner­ship struc­ture but only a geopo­lit­i­cal one. Ac­cus­ing the Eu­ro­pean diplo­mats in a pro­fes­sional fail­ure when de­mand­ing the CES coun­tries to make a cat­e­gor­i­cal choose be­tween Cus­toms Union and Eu­ro­pean Union which led to the col­lapse sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine he also re­mem­bered   about the three Mol­da­vian TV chan­nels ex­cluded from the broad­cast­ing right after the month has passed from the Vil­nius Sum­mit – the unique case in the 20 years of Mol­da­vian in­de­pen­dency. 

  As a re­sponse to this cri­tique the next speaker, head of the Po­lit­i­cal and Eco­nom­i­cal de­part­ment of the EU del­e­ga­tion to Moldova Wicher Slagter pro­posed not to talk in the frame­work of the fail­ures and suc­cess in the geopo­lit­i­cal view point. He pro­posed to dis­cuss about the con­crete ben­e­fits of the agree­ment in­stead of going into the deep into DCFTA and EaP. Mr Slagter un­der­lined that the ben­e­fits can be achieved only if they be im­ple­mented and nor re­main only at the paper. Among the ben­e­fits men­tioned there were such points as in­creas­ing the job places within the eco­nom­i­cal ac­cess to the Eu­ro­pean mar­kets. “Fears, that DCFTA will ruin pre­vi­ous eco­nom­i­cal ties of Moldova are un­bi­ased. Of course, the com­pe­ti­tion will be higher but be­cause of this the Mol­da­vian econ­omy will be­come stronger. I`m sure, that our in­vestors will pre­pare Moldova for Eu­ro­pean mar­ket”. At the same time he pre­vented about the eco­nom­i­cal con­se­quences Moldova can ex­pe­ri­ence if go with Cus­toms Union. “Eco­nom­i­cal ties of Be­larus and Kaza­khstan ”with the rest of the world has de­creased con­sid­er­ably while DCFTA pro­poses you to be­come part of the eco­nom­i­cal glob­al­iza­tion” – said the of the Po­lit­i­cal and Eco­nom­i­cal de­part­ment of the EU del­e­ga­tion to Moldova.

  Among the tens of emo­tional and ar­gu­men­ta­tive speeches there were even some very per­sonal state­ments. “To be sin­cere till the last I was the sup­porter of the idea of Eu­ro­pean in­te­gra­tion for Moldova but now I`m forced to say that I`m dis­ap­pointed with the pol­icy EU helds in Moldova so I guess that Cus­toms Union could be more ben­e­fi­cial for our coun­try” – po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Ernest Var­danyan said. He ex­plained that EU doesn`t react to the vi­o­la­tions of de­mo­c­ra­tic val­ues in Moldova such as clos­ing of the pri­vate TV chan­nels for ex­am­ple is. “Eu­ro­pean val­ues aren`t the same any­more. Eu­rope forces Moldovans to live under the pres­sure of the oli­garchy gov­er­nors only be­cause they`re afraid that the Com­mu­nists will come again to the power” – ex­pressed his re­grets Mr Var­danyan.

 Un­for­tu­nately this state­ment wasn’t the one which hurt feel­ings of those who be­lieve in the Eu­ro­pean fu­ture for Moldova. As the mod­er­a­tor of the con­fer­ence the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Helsinki Civic As­sem­bly of Moldova Alexei Tul­bure men­tioned there were sev­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the gov­ern­ing pro-Eu­ro­pean coali­tion but no one came to de­fend their view point and de­bate in front of the cam­eras. In­stead of this the floor has been oc­cu­pied by the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the only party who came to the event – the Com­mu­nists who are in op­po­si­tion.

   As peo­ple say it`s “laugh and cry”: while MP from the Com­mu­nist Party Mark Tkaciuk and Iurie Muntean have been hav­ing their speeches about the Cus­toms and Eu­ro­pean Union in the hotel "Leogrand", the Prime Min­is­ter of Moldova Iurie Leanca have been pre­sent­ing the new pro­gram of the Gov­ern­ment in the neigh­bor­ing hall in the same hotel. So why do we won­der about the re­sults of the sur­veys on the ex­ter­nal di­men­sion of the Re­pub­lic of Moldova when even the politi­cians enter the same door but dif­fer­ent rooms?! More con­fer­ences and de­bates on this topic needed (smile).