Moldova's Parliamentary Elections To Determine Future Foreign Policy Trajectory

The results of parliamentary elections in Moldova, which will be held on Sunday, will determine the direction in which Chisinau's foreign policy will develop over the next four years, and it will all depend on whether citizens want to see the president's pro-Russia socialists to rise as the dominant political force or the ruling pro-European democrats to remain on its course westward

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 21st February, 2019) The results of parliamentary elections in Moldova, which will be held on Sunday, will determine the direction in which Chisinau's foreign policy will develop over the next four years, and it will all depend on whether citizens want to see the president's pro-Russia socialists to rise as the dominant political force or the ruling pro-European democrats to remain on its course westward.The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) advocates for closer interaction and development of economic projects with Russia with the argument that it would benefit the Moldovan economy. In addition, with the victory of the socialists, the two-year confrontation between Moldovan President Igor Dodon on the one side, and the parliament, cabinet, Prosecutor General's Office and courts on the other, will come to an end. For now the democrats are in power, blocking almost any initiative of the president.

If the ruling Democratic Party stays in power, the country's convergence with the West will continue.

According to experts, the Association Agreement between Moldova and the European Union brings a lot of difficulties, since the terms of the deal are extremely unfavorable for Moldovans. As for cooperation with NATO, opinion polls indicate that more than 60 percent of the population opposes joining the military bloc.

While Moldovan citizens decide on who to vote for, passions run high within the country's political establishment. The democrats continue to make every effort to prevent socialists from winning the elections, acting under the principle that the "ends justify the means."

Last week, the Central Election Commission (CEC) threatened to exclude the socialists from the race because the president had allegedly used administrative pressure to deliver a victory for the party in the previous elections. Dodon denied the accusations, and the socialists, in turn, promised to organize mass protests if they were excluded.

Even the Moldovan Embassy in Russia has been suspected of helping the socialists. At least this was how the media explained why the Foreign Ministry had ordered inspections in the Moldovan diplomatic mission.

Aside from speculations of its involvement in Moldovan politics, the embassy has become a fixture in international news feeds for other reasons, whether it be because the representative office of Transnistria was opened in Russia, a move the Moldovan Foreign Ministry opposed, or because Russia rescued Moldovan pilots from Afghan captivity. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry was also unhappy about this and accused Russia of denying access to the pilots.

This attitude would suggest that the Foreign Ministry has been trying to demonstrate the inadequacy of its ambassador in Russia, in particular, and the embassy there in general. A request to recall the ambassador to Russia was even sent to the government, but Dodon had the last word and refused to approve it.

Some democratic members of the Moldovan leadership, such as Prime Minister Pavel Filip and Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu, have claimed that Russia was trying to interfere in their elections, citing Moscow's decision to introduce migration amnesty for Moldovan citizens as well as the revocation of customs duties for Moldova. According to Candu, "this means that both of these initiatives are aimed at securing the votes of citizens for the Socialist Party and Dodon, who is a part of this party.

"Dodon has slammed the words of parliament's speaker, stressing that Russia's decision on migration amnesty was "a gesture of goodwill."

Moscow, for its part, has declared that interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries has long been Washington's corporate style.

"Today it is more evident from Venezuela's example, where the United States is essentially trying to carry out a coup d'etat. The same thing was when they occupied part of Syrian territory after unsuccessful attempts to eliminate the legitimate government in Damascus. Another example is the manual control of the Kiev nationalist regime with American help. A similar fate seems to be prepared for Moldova," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow has said it got this impression by looking at the actions of US ambassador to Moldova, who, immediately after taking the post in fall 2018, began "to actively participate in the Moldovan domestic processes." As the Foreign Ministry noted, he "publicly supports some politicians against others, handing out recommendations on how to conduct parliamentary elections."

Moscow noted that if the winner of the parliamentary elections in Moldova "does not suit Washington, the Moldovans will face a break in ties with the West and even a repeat of the Ukrainian Maidan."

According to Alexander Shevchenko, an expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), the Moldova-European Union Association Agreement "is being implemented with great difficulty."

"Moldova has certain difficulties in fulfilling this agreement on participation in the association, because its conditions are extremely unfavorable for Moldovans. Everything there is arranged in favor of the European Union, there are a number of restrictions that the European Union uses to regulate the export of Moldovan products to the EU countries, while the Moldovans do not have such rights," Shevchenko said.

It would be better for the Moldovan economy if this agreement was repealed in accordance with Dodon's calls and to focus its foreign economic relations toward Russia, according to the Shevchenko.

The cooperation between Moldova and Russia has noticeably intensified, the expert pointed out.

"In large part because Russia meets Dodon's wishes to increase the export of Moldovan goods to Russia and to lift a number of restrictions that we imposed on Moldova a few years ago due to its participation in that association and the hypothetical possibility that European goods will enter Russia free of duty, which we did not agree on with the European Union," he noted.

Speaking about the prospects for cooperation between Russia and Moldova, the expert said that much will depend on the upcoming elections.

"If forces that intend to cooperate with Russia come to power, then we respond in kind and will contribute and help Moldovans to develop these ties. But if all the same pro-European forces come to power, who in general have a Russophobic attitude ... then the relevant conclusions will be made and, of course, this will create certain obstacles for the development of our relations," the expert indicated.

However, even the pro-European forces win, Russia will still try to develop ties with the country as it has developed a good understanding with Dodon.