2 – If Moldova wins, Romania loses
BSSB.BE lse.ac.uk/ 27.10.2016
In fact, this was indeed attempted with the conditional release of a first payment: the conditions included completing an analysis of vulnerabilities in the banking system as well as making them transparent; auditing banks; bringing the legislative anti-corruption framework up to date and evaluating anti-corruption institutions. However, none of these conditions were met. From the list proposed by Bucharest, only a staff agreement was fulfilled. The other requirements were either too vague or simply impossible for Moldova to carry out in such a short time-frame (i.e. the evaluation of the banking system and anticorruption institutions).
- And the question which remains is why Romania continues to put all of its eggs in one basket by maintaining tacit support for the current government, with presidential elections on the horizon which could act as a game changer for relations between the two countries.
- The current government is neither more progressive nor more pro-European than the other governments that have held office over the last 26 years.
- What’s more, in comparison to previous governments, it suffers from a substantial problem in the shape of Plahotniuc, who suffers from the lowest levels of popular support of any political figure in the country, but nevertheless maintains large levels of influence in the media and has a close relationship with both decision-makers in Bucharest and the Socialist Party in Chisinau.
The EU and Romania would both like to avoid Moldova turning into another island of instability in Europe’s neighbourhood and this perhaps explains their desire to support the most powerful political parties and leaders within the country, even if this comes at the expense of citizens. Dodon has adopted a campaign slogan emphasising that Romania ‘will not be our master’ and has advocated Eurasian integration. But on the other hand, the status quo may not be affected to the degree anticipated if Dodon does emerge as the winner of the election.
- Granted, some change will occur if this happens, but it is perhaps telling that media sources linked to Plahotniuc have directed a negative campaign against Andrei Năstase and Maia Sandu, while largely ignoring Dodon, despite the latter theoretically being the main opponent of the government.
- This is rather easy to explain as the movement formed around Năstase and Sandu is the only one that is not, directly or indirectly, under his influence. Unfortunately for Bucharest, Romania has also been slow to cultivate influence with these new movements.
Moldova’s European path is not irreversible and Romania’s support for the government may ultimately derail its foreign policy agenda. But this damage can still be avoided if Bucharest lives up to expectations and acts as Moldova’s main advocate for European integration.
If, as expected, Sandu and Dodon face off in the second round of the presidential elections, another opportunity will be available for Romania to support a clear reform agenda by backing Sandu, but only time will tell whether the country is willing to do so.
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