Victor Chirilă: Tensions between EU and Russia will have serious consequences for Moldova

The executive director of the Foreign Policy Association (APE) Victor Chirilă said he is less optimistic about the future relations between Moldova and Russia as there are a number of unsolved problems, there is distrust and the tense relations between Russia and the EU do not favor the Republic of Moldova. According to him, when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. The given tensions will have negative consequences for Moldova too. Russia will be less willing to remain indifferent or neutral in the context of the political and geopolitical struggles of the political forces in Chisinau and will undoubtedly take sides with a political force. And this will not advantage the reform agenda in Moldova.

In IPN’s public debate “Tense relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation and impact on the Republic of Moldova”, the APE director said the worsening of the EU-Russia relations started in 2012-2013 and ended with the annexation of Crimea by Russia with the aim of preventing the anchoring of Ukraine and the post-Soviet space in the Euro-Atlantic space. But Russia didn’t succeed as Ukraine is pro-European and pro-Atlantic now more than ever.

As to the recent visit paid to Moscow by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell, Victor Chirilă said the failure of this is due not to bad planning, but to the lack of unity at European level when it goes to the EU’s position on Russia. The visit was supported by France and Germany, but other states, like the Baltic ones, were against.

“Russia is not ready now to have a dialogue with the EU because Putin’s regime places the internal stability at the forefront and is ready to do anything, even to suspend the relations with the EU, so as to stop what it calls ‘interference’ by the EU and, in general, by the West in the internal affairs of Russia,” explained the APE director.

Victor Chirilă noted the implementation of the statements about an eventual interruption in the relations with the EU, made by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, will depend on the harshness of the penalties that will be imposed by the EU. “I doubt it that there will be very harsh penalties and that they will refer to key persons from the company of Mister Putin or key persons on whom Putin’s regime in Moscow is based,” he said, noting those statements sounded more like a warning and an intimidation as the Kremlin later said Lavrov’s assertions were probably taken out of context.

The APE director said he doubts that the diplomatic relations between the EU and Russia will be interrupted. Moscow and important capitals in the EU are interested in maintaining this dialog that they need to cope with common problems. However, Russia will most probably resort to penalties. It will possibly extend the ban on European products or will extend the unofficial list of persons who cannot enter Russia.

Victor Chirilă considers the struggle of conceptions in Moldova could exacerbate following the worsening of the relations between the EU and Russia. In Chisinau, there is a confrontation between President Maia Sandu and the new alliance formed by the Party of Socialists, the Shor Party and other parliamentary groups. It is a confrontation of ideas, of conceptions concerning Moldova’s future, a geopolitical confrontation in terms of values. Maia Sandu, the PAS, the PPPDA promote a view anchored in the EU values where the rule of law is the quintessence, while the PSRM, in the person of Igor Dodon, and the Shor Party oppose such a conception and promote a conception close to Russia’s, which is based on traditional values and a political regime that defies the rule f law and human rights.

According to him, Russia will encourage further the new alliance to remain in power so as to control the political decisions in Moldova and to ensure the influence its wants to have in Moldova. The prolongation of the political crisis in Moldova for an indefinite period of time and the creation of increasing obstacles to the option promoted by Maia Sandu and the pro-European parties are among the most serous consequences faced in practical terms.

Victor Chirilă noted that to do this, Russia should first solve its domestic problems and build a functional state based on the rule of law, strengthen the state institutions and remove the corrupt officials from them. “We must get rid of this feeling of impunity that prevails in the state institutions, especially Parliament, in the business sector, in important institutions from the justice sector. As long as this feeling of immunity exists, it will be hard to consolidate the institutions, society so as to cope with the pressure coming from the East.”

The public debate “Tense relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation and impact on the Republic of Moldova” is the 172nd installment of the series “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. The project is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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