1 – Moldova. Turning a blind eye
BSSB.BE neweasterneurope.eu 19.05.2016
Moldova is beginning to resemble the pro-western autocracies of the Middle East. While the United States legitimises the country’s pathologies of power, the European Union is trying to address them.
- Moldova’s political system rests on the shady connections of Vlad Plahotniuc, a man who does not hold any significant official function. In this small country one can see the differences between the American and European approaches towards Moldova.
- For Washington, geopolitics matters most and as long as Moldova keeps its pro-western course, the country’s political system will not be a matter of concern. For Brussels, traditionally oriented towards promoting European values and democracy, a pro-European autocracy with its capital in Chișinău has become a real problem.
Vlad Plahotniuc, an oligarch-hegemon, has entered American political elite circles with impetus during a May event organised by the Atlantic Council, a think-tank closely connected with the Department of State.
During his visit to the US, Plahotniuc received assurances of Washington’s support for Moldova’s government from Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. He also met with the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Menno Snel.
Plahotniuc’s visit to the US has a special significance. The oligarch represented Moldova during official high level talks, despite the fact that he does not hold any official function. Although officially it was the deputy prime minister and the minister of economy, Octavian Calmic, who headed the delegation, the media was unanimous that it was Plahotniuc who ruled the roost: it was him, who reported on the meetings with Nuland and Snel, who conducted the talks and who was present during all the photo ops.
The rank of the visit was unclear and so was the role of the oligarch. As it eventuallyturned out, Plahotniuc’s function was that of an “executive coordinator” for the ruling coalition’s council. Needless to say, the general public in Moldova was aware neither of the existence of the council nor of such a function. It was the first time Plahotniuc showed clearly to Moldovans and the international community who is in fact in charge in Chișinău. Formally, the oligarch is only a vice-president of the main coalition partner, the Democratic Party.
- Through Nuland, Washington has again reassured the ruling camp in Moldova of its support, thereby legitimising the existence of an alternative power centre without a democratic mandate or constitutional responsibility.
- A similar situation took place in mid-January, when during her visit in Bucharest Nuland expressed Washington’s support for the (created through blackmail and corruption, but still pro-western) parliamentary majority.
- Nuland’s declaration dispirited the opposition, which at the time was getting ready for mass protests.
Specialists and pundits alike explain the position of the US State Department in the context of its geopolitical considerations. Most importantly for Washington Plahotniuc guarantees a stable parliamentary majority, unequivocally supporting Moldova’s pro-western course. The US will likely continue this approach until a real pro-western alternative emerges, able to defeatnot only the currently ruling bloc, but also the pro-Russian opposition.
The year 2015 has shown that we can no longer talk about Moldova as a “success story” of European integration in the east of the continent. The government in Chișinău should get credit for its determination in keeping a pro-western course between 2009 and 2015 and a couple of important successes, such as lifting the visa regime with the EU and signing of the Association Agreement.
Nevertheless, the last year has shown that under the guise of EU integration, Moldova consolidated its oligarchic system based on corruption, taking over state institutions, misappropriating citizens’ money and building competition between rival oligarch clans.
The competition resulted inthe elimination of one of the two leading oligarchs and a former prime minister, Vlad Filat, from the political and social life of the country. His arrest for his alleged role in the “theft of the century” (a misappropriation of three billion US dollars from three Moldovan banks) enabled his rival, Plahotniuc, to take control of almost all of the state agencies.
This is how the Moldova oligarchy has come to an end, since Plathoniuc currently has neither rivals, nor partners. He is a hegemon.
Piotr Oleksy is an associate professor at the Institute of European Culture in Gniezno and a regular contributor to New Eastern Europe.
Euroscepticism Geopolitics Nations Video Conflicts
*Video – Lewis Black, the comedian, playwright, and satirist who is perhaps best known for his frequent “Back in Black” appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, addressed the National Press Club at a luncheon on April 14, 2014. Black, a native of Silver Spring, Md., talked about politics and social issues – as well as upcoming NPC speaker Donald Trump – in his inimitable style
* VIDEO – Why Journalism Is Important: Christopher Hitchens on Media- Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky proposed a concrete model for the filtering processes (biases) of mainstream media, especially in the United States, called the propaganda model. They tested this empirically and presented extensive quantified evidence supporting the model. Communication scholar Robert W. McChesney, inspired in part by the work of Chomsky and Herman, has linked the failures of the mainstream press primarily to corporate ownership, pro-corporate public policy, and the myth of “professional journalism.”