25 may, 2016

The independent expert, director of the Institute of diplomatic, political studies and security issues, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova, Valerii Ostalep, in an interview with INFOTAG presented his views on the political situation in the Republic of Moldova, trying to predict the course of events.

Part I. Moldova – bargaining chip in the geopolitical game

INFOTAG: In the last month in the Republic of Moldova were held two trainings – of engineers and physicians, with the participation of the military contingent of the US Armed Forces in Europe. On the other hand, in Transnistria, are regularly held the Transnistrian army maneuvers involving troops of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF). On the eve of May 9, in Chisinau was shown the US military equipment, and on the second day in Tiraspol was organized a march where for the first time have participated the soldiers and officers of OGRF. How can it be associated with the fact that politicians on both banks of the Dniester River are in favor of peace and settlement of the Transnistrian conflict by peaceful means?!

Valerii Ostalep: Prior to this, some US soldiers "lit up" with the statement that they have repaired in Moldova a kindergarten. I do not know to what extent you have to be naive to believe the tales, replicated by the media that between Russia and the United States does not exist now a most acute phase of geopolitical confrontation and does not understand that there is happening a polishing (no matter what kind) of their military forces.

We must realize that the Republic of Moldova was on the perimeter of the confrontation between Moscow and Washington in the region. In addition, we "are lucky" (the population of the Republic of Moldova) to have at this stage in the country's leadership not just short-sighted people, but outright traitors of national interests. Why? A few years ago, when this whole mess brewed just at the beginning, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the politicians just had to exclude Moldova from this confrontation. We had to act so as not to be on anyone’s side.

What actually happened? In order to retain power at all costs (and receiving at the same time political and economic bonuses), a number of "blockheads" brought the country to the fact that on one side of the Dniester are American soldiers that pretend to renovate kindergartens, and on the other – are marching Russian soldiers and officers.

It is understood that the Republic of Moldova is not the purpose either for the US or Russia – as a country and as a territory. But in the case of unpredictable situations, from us will be left nothing. For example, I do not think that today for millions of Ukrainians is easier from realizing how many mistakes were allowed a few years ago by the then leadership’s political stupidity. Because of this, armed conflict broke out. In eastern Ukraine, tens of thousands of its citizens were killed, others were displaced, and the country itself in its previous form does not exist, and it is unlikely that it will ever be.

Therefore, here is the short answer to your question: the stupidity of politicians with indifference and connivance of citizens led to the economic and political situation in which we find ourselves today. Its characteristic feature – the catastrophe on all counts. But worst of all is that no one today can say what it will die in the end... The confrontation between Russia and the US on this, alas, does not end. We can see who and where has won, on what positions, but the final is not yet visible.

"I.": Could the Republic of Moldova become a bargaining chip in relations "Russia-US-EU"? The Kremlin and the White House are trying to reach an agreement on Syria and Ukraine. Can they make Chisinau and Tiraspol to find a compromise and a political solution on the basis of mutual concessions? What can they be?

The Republic of Moldova has been a bargaining chip since 2009. It is used in the geopolitical game of the West against Russia. It is used same as Ukraine. The European Union (EU) its performance in the Republic of Moldova has already lost. Let’s recall that after a visit to Chisinau of Angela Merkel and the army of EU high officials, those whom they imposed to the citizens of Moldova, were either in prison (Vlad Filat - "I.") or complicit to the "theft of the century" – 1 billion euros from three banks.

In the project "Moldova - a success story", the EU is the structure that lost and probably soon a special role will not play here. I want to draw attention to a recent statement by Mihai Ghimpu – the leader of the Liberal Party (LP) and the famous fanatic of "European integration idea". He said literally the following, and I quote: "With regard to the integration of Moldova into the EU, then we will see about that...". That means Ghimpu talks about the European course, but not on European Integration. In the Russian language, there is a saying – the equivalent of the situation: "It was not very much wanted". It is in the sense that when the situation is critical, and you cannot do anything, you say: "I did not want it very much". So, even Ghimpu understands that a relationship of this power with the EU will not work, and the European Union, all that it could in the Republic of Moldova, has already lost.

As for the United States, the Republic of Moldova is of no interest for them, except for the role of a pawn in the venturing Washington’s desire against the Kremlin. There is very little interest in the military sector – not far, in Romania have established the elements of missile defense (missile system) to protect their allies. But the US cannot afford the luxury to lose face today, as well as the EU in the Republic of Moldova (especially in view of the upcoming presidential elections next October 30, 2016). But Russia also has enough of its affairs, and seems to have no clear understanding of what to do with the Republic of Moldova.

What is happening in the Republic of Moldova? We see quite an unceremonious US intervention in the political process. I am referring to the statement of US Ambassador James Pettit, who allows himself to speculate about whether in the Republic of Moldova early parliamentary elections are necessary. Although any student knows that this is not a part of his mandate as the ambassador, that for a diplomat is a priori prohibited from making such political statements. The ambassador could not speak on the topic of internal affairs in the State in which he is accredited.

Americans are well aware of what the reaction will be from the population on the attempts to organize here the trainings and NATO maneuvers. Such a reaction, violent and critical, which met US troops machine in early May, was predictable. They use the Republic of Moldova with only one purpose – to slowly "chop" Russia, checking its sensitivity and increasing nervousness in the region.

Part II. Everything is bad. Main thing – to not get worse

"I.": Germany, which is currently chairing the OSCE, will certainly want to achieve results in the Transnistrian settlement. How this can happen and what to expect?

Regarding activity. The Germans, as a nation of effective people, always getting to the end, unlike other countries, which formally refers to the obtained mandate, really started to be active. That I actually expected, they will seek to get the results. Another thing is that today in the negotiation format "5 + 2" nothing can be solved. It makes no sense to explain the whole background of the problem. But Russia, the US and Ukraine will not be able to find a consensus on such a sensitive issue, which is the Transnistrian conflict settlement. Kiev behaves confused, although it could play an important role in the negotiations.

If we recall the political uncertainty, where is the political class of the Republic of Moldova, and the expectation of presidential elections in Transnistria at the end of 2016, there is no reason to expect progress. In addition, the figure of the new negotiator from Chisinau – George Balan is of great skepticism. After Eugen Karpov, there was no person more unsuccessful in this difficult, but important post. He is far from the ability to negotiate, to compromise, and so on.

If we sum up these factors: slip of the "5 + 2" mechanism, paralysis of authorities in Chisinau and Tiraspol, the lack of effective relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol at the level of the political representatives, the lack of dialogue Chisinau-Moscow, then to expect a breakthrough in the Transnistrian settlement is hardly worth it. This is a situation where diligent Germans are trying to cook porridge from an ax, trying to do the job for everyone. In the foreseeable future, I do not expect progress. The main thing is to not get worse.

"I.": In the Republic of Moldova, since November 2014, has not ceased to "warm" the theme of the seizure of power by certain forces – based on the Ukrainian scenario, "plotting a coup" and "rebellion". What is really going on?

It is no secret that the society in the Republic of Moldova is divided. The authorities deliberately bring it to hysteria. We have it like this: as someone from day to day waits for Russian tanks on the streets of towns and villages of Moldova, and someone in every fiber of the soul seeks in any way the European Union, even through the unification with Romania. The government nourishes fear in society, and in this sense, Russia has always been a convenient way to create a potential threat.

Thus, the Republic of Moldova’s authorities solve a three-pronged task:

1. They show to the West that they are on the alert and act on its side against Russia;

2. Scare citizens of Moldova that Russian president Putin wants to grab Moldova, and soon will send Russian tanks here;

3. Divide based on this one part of society and the other.

The solution to this task is the purpose of the ruling coalition. The principle of "divide and rule" no one in Moldova has canceled, on the contrary, they even brought it to perfection. I want to remind everyone that none of the cases that we have seen on TV have gone to the sentencing.

"I.": How would you assess the internal situation six months before the presidential election? It is believed that the right will beat the right and the left - the left, while the ruling DPM, led by Vlad Plahotniuc, will applaud and build a comfortable strategy in the campaign. Are there such risks?

I was unpleasantly surprised by the immaturity and naivety (and perhaps foolishness) of the leaders of the opposition, who on the same day when it was announced the known Constitutional Court's decision on the return to the direct election of the president, began to attack each other. They have already swallowed the bait of the authorities and began the election campaign. And we still do not know, two months later, after the announcement of the decision of the CC, the presidential election’s rules.

I, personally, for example, do not believe that these elections will be held. I do not understand why the leaders of all the opposition factions focused on criticism of their ideological allies, and completely ignored the criticism of the authorities. This is political nonsense.

Reagrding the candidates for the presidency. Each of them must explain by the hour and the day what he was going to do exactly when he will be elected. And in any case, do not fight against other opposition candidates. It is necessary to focus on criticism of the authorities. Time to start to negotiate the opposition leaders still have enough – to change tactics of the distinct behavior.

The power is now in the unenviable position. It is unlikely that it will organize fair elections. Why on earth?! We remember what happened in the autumn of 2014 – the removal of competitors with high ranking and shouting of the "Elections" system in the first half of the day. I fear that we expect new tricks and stunts of authorities. The desire to remain in power, will cause the power to go through these dirty tricks. The population is now extremely dissatisfied and there is possible an explosion; the developments on the most dangerous scenario.

"I.": Will the opposition be able to reverse the situation, or the story of the "joint protest movement" came to nothing?

The political struggle assumes responsibility for actions and decisions. At a minimum, they need to stop talking and do something stupid. That is what led to the fact that the Moldovan society has a quite serious concern to those who declared themselves and positioned as "resolute opposition" to the authorities. Recitatives: "Let’s go!", "Last and decisive battle" can be held once, well, a maximum of two times. After that, people stop believing.

All three opposition leaders (same as power) are in a difficult situation because of their own carelessness. They have already used in many cases the potential dissatisfaction of citizens to the authorities. Repeatedly staged demonstrations and have not achieved results. At least, it is naive to believe that a large number of citizens will come under their flags and slogans of the protests. Nastase (the leader of the party DA - "I."), and Dodon (the leader of the Socialist Party - "I."), and Usatai (the leader of "Our Party" - "I.") are aware that they have exhausted themselves as a political tool of struggle.

As for the change of power – this is possible only through early parliamentary elections, not through the presidential election. But early elections require serious preparation and other methods of struggle with the government. The opposition has to prove its viability, which means the ability to work with the head and not be guided by emotions. But such a change in their work, I have not seen it yet.

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