While the world has its attention directed to the political crisis faced by the great European powers and the United States – whose president, Donald Trump, has become an adversary, and no longer an unconditional ally –, a developing tension may reach great proportions in the region of occupied by Moldova in Eastern Europe.
The country is expected to go through legislative elections between November 30, 2018, and February 28, 2019, in a dispute between the president and the head of government, selected by a coalition of liberal parties created according the results of the 2014 parliamentary elections, and which supports the country’s integration into the European Union. President Igor Dodon, who favors political neutrality and cooperation with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, was elected in 2016 and represents the Socialist Party.
Because of an intricate internal divergence, the Republic of Moldova is experiencing a systemic crisis, where power does not belong to the president. Also, the government and the Parliament are being consumed under the control of the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, known as the “shadow cardinal”. He is a successful entrepreneur who got rich due to unorthodox, unconventional activities.
In May, the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) made public a series of documents proving illegal activities attributed to chairman Plahotnic. However, the vast majority of the accusations against the oligarch remain carefully silenced.
According to international analysts, Washington and Brussels support Vladimir Plahotnic’s initiatives and strive to promote the interests of his party for the upcoming elections, in a flagrant disregard for the foundations of democracy. It is a movement that seeks to de-legitimize the pro-Russian or neutral sentiments in Moldova.
On the other hand, the strategy has a great risk of turning the region into another focus of tensions and conflicts in a Europe that deals with the weakening of integrationist leaderships in opposition to the strengthening of far-right nationalisms.
The current territory of the Republic of Moldova belonged to Russia between 1812 and 1918, with the name of Bessarabia. From 1918 to 1939, the territory was part of Romania. In 1940, Soviet forces invaded the region and in 1944 the territory was effectively annexed to the Soviet Union under the name of Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Parliament declared the country’s independence on August 27, 1991, but the key issues in its home affairs keep related to the rights of ethnic minorities and the maintenance of the integrity of the national territory, both issues intrinsically linked.
Brazilian diplomacy realizes that contemporary political processes in the Republic of Moldova are characterized by the intensification of the clash between the European Union and Russia for the enlargement of their respective areas of influence over the former Soviet republic.
In addition, the Itamaraty understands, the attempt to relativize the Russian influence – what would include the withdrawal of troops from the Transnistrian region (estimated at 2,500 soldiers) – and of joining the Euro-Atlantic community have anchored the three priorities of Moldovan foreign policy, which complement each other: the recovery of its full territorial integrity, access to the European Union and the promotion of strategic relations with Romania.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist, international analyst and director of the InfoRel Institute of International Relations and Defense. E-mail: email@example.com.