A week has passed since the Moldovans learned about the signing of a contract for the supply of gas with Gazprom and the energy crisis that started at the beginning of the cold season ended or diminished considerably then. Some applaud the authorities for their performance at the talks with Gazprom and the Russian Federation, while others criticize them harshly for the allegedly serious mistakes. A lot of time and analysis will be needed to see which of these viewpoints is true. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Energy Security of the European Union and the Republic of Moldova: reciprocal lessons” used a specific angle from which they compared the energy security situation in Moldova and the EU and the actions taken by the Moldovan authorities and the EU to overcome or diminish the gas supply crisis.
IPN’s senior contributor Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Science at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, said the energy security is related to national security. The difference is that here we speak only about energy security, where emphasis is placed only on energy resources and on how a state, more states or the states that associate themselves with a supranational organization, such as the European Union, ensure energy resources or a stable supply of energy resources. The components of energy resources are diverse. It goes to energy infrastructure, the gas pipeline or power transmission lines, including ports and capacities to receive and further transport liquefied gas.
Among other important issues is the energy efficiency, competition on the energy market, the way in which intergovernmental agreements are signed for accessing energy resources, in particular gas, by such countries as Moldova or EU member states, from the Russian Federation, which is one of the largest gas exporters on the European market. Energy security is currently the key element of national security. If you do not have energy security, you do not have national security or have weak national security. This matters in the management of relations with Russia and in the cooperation with the EU and its member states.
Energy expert Victor Parlicov said the result of any type of negotiations is primarily determined by the negotiation capacity and power of the sides at the moment. Among the key factors that affect the result of the talks are the basic interests of the sides and their capacity to have alternatives. He was almost sure that Moldova will have a contract with Gazprom as Russia needs to further finance the Transnistrian region by free gas supplies. “The major roe of Gazprom in Moldova is related not to business, but to the financing of the Transnistrian region. This task was set by the Kremlin back in 1994. There is now no better instrument for keeping the illusion of independence or statehood on the left side of the Nistru,” stated the expert.
Victor Parlicov also said that last year Moldova accepted to make a change in the price calculation formula that is stipulated in the contract, related to the spot market. The previous formula had a healthy intrinsic formula related to the average price of gas supplied by Gazprom to the EU. Moldova’s vulnerability derives from here. If Moldova had had the fourth quarter covered by the price formula from the previous contracts, a crisis wouldn’t have emerged. Moldova allowed this change that enabled Gazprom to sell gas according to spot prices that rise to over US$1,000 at the start of autumn.
According to the expert, the current purchase price of gas will not ruin the national economy, but the situation is worse than that when the given component was absent. The communication was the most serious shortcoming in the talks. “The fact that in less than a month Energocom managed to buy gas from alternative sources was a success, but the way in which they informed about the negotiations was a disappointment. In the future, the discussions should center on how we should approach the next talks so as to be in a better position,” he stated.
Political analyst Anatol Țăranu, Moldova’s ex-ambassador to Russia, said the authorities had defective communication that had an unfavorable impact on the government. The gas supply crisis in Moldova that was overcome rather swiftly can be considered solved. Moldova has a contract with Russia that undertook to supply gas. But the gas will cost more than earlier at a time when the budget is in deficit and the economic situation is precarious. This will cause additional problems for the government in the social sphere.
“It’s true that this gas crisis showed the Republic of Moldova’s capacity to communicate at international level. The government communicates badly with the own public, but at international level things stand very well. The mobilization of the international factor, first of all of the development partners, in favor of the Republic of Moldova, was almost exemplary. There were much worse times in the Republic of Moldova, like in the 1990s, when the international community was very much indifferent to Moldova’s interests. The same happened during the rule of Dodon, when the EU attentively followed what was going on in Moldova, but didn’t take concrete steps to help. The geopolitical struggle was clear,” said the analyst.
According to Anatol Țăranu, a conclusion is that the gas represents a key element of the interstate relations between Moldova and Russia. Moldova will have to build the interstate relations with Russia from the perspective of this factor that disfavors it for the simple reason than Gazprom holds the monopoly on the Moldovan market. To diminish this negative factor, the gas supply sources should be diversified and this would ultimately lead to an improvement of the relations with Russia, which would have to accept the loss of monopoly on the market.
The public debate “Energy Security of the European Union and the Republic of Moldova: reciprocal lessons” is the 212th installment of the series of debates held as part of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.