Moldova. The policy of close vicinity
The handling of the multicultural diversity of its society tests democracy in the Republic of Moldova, as balance should be instated in the symbolical competition among various communities, especially between the Romanian majority and the Russian minority.
Chisinau has shown a positive attitude towards the issue of national minorities. However, its efforts, local government initiatives included, cannot provide a solution as long as the Moldovan state is weak and unable to secure its sovereignty throughout the republic, under the conditions of economic (and, indeed, political) dependence from Russia.
One can say at the same time that the importance of the identity issue requires an internationalization of the democracy issue in Moldova. Most often, internationalization has a positive effect.
The positive scenario of Romania’s integration into the European Union – provided there are no crises along the way – set 2007 as the date for this process. The recent Report of the European Commission about Romania confirms this date. Until then, the Union itself will go thorough a whole process of integrating the first new candidates – starting 2004 – and “deepening the relations within the Union.”
The latter process is also the most relevant one for the political implications in the region outside the Union. The European Commission made a recent proposal as to the “joint control and management of the borders, together with a community policy for immigration and asylum “.
The trends within the Union, to make the Schengen space more efficient – as is the idea of creating a common border structure for the EU – prove that the border inspected actions on the border between Romania (and the Union, implicitly) and the Republic of Moldova cannot be shaped by Romania, in the future. Bucharest authorities will have a relatively restricted freedom of action on border inspection and travel documents, and generally speaking on applying Schengen rules.
The gains remain only at the level of EU general policies towards the near vicinity. On the other hand, showing solidarity with the Moldovans can be useful for the political and economic relations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The activities of the Romanian Embassy and the Consulate in Chisinau are of a strategic nature in defining the relationship between Chisinau and Bucharest, in shaping the relations between Moldovan and Romanian citizens and in granting political assistance to the Republic of Moldova .
One of the main consequences of the EU expansion to the East will be the establishment of the new borders of Europe in this part of the continent. This new delineation will start from Narva-Ivangorod on the Estonian-Russian border, winding along the Western Belarus border, separating this former soviet republic from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland even more, then Ukraine from Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, going down along the Moldovan-Romanian and Romanian-Ukrainian border in the Danube Delta.
From a symbolical and practical point of view, the establishment and management of the new border of a unifying Europe will have a strong impact on the relations with the states outside the integration area and the European Union. A new iron curtain in the middle of a continent which, geographically speaking, is limited by the Gibraltar straight and the Ural Mountains, will undoubtedly be an obvious anachronism and a reminiscence of the cold war.
The Republic of Moldova was among the first to launch market reforms and the first of the former “sister-republics” to bring the communists back to power. Irrespective of political directions, the main Moldovan social and political forces, and political class as a whole, realize that the Republic of Moldova has to find its place in Europe
As an independent state, after almost 500 years of lack of freedom, the Republic of Moldova is in the difficult process of abandoning its totalitarian past, and has proved unable to find, at times, coherent means to surpass the identity crisis deeply rooted in the historical past and the high level of denationalization and sovietization, continuously promoted by Moscow over the whole post-war period. The economic and social difficulties, the political and territorial breakup which maintains the country in a state of division, the chronic instability springing from the general crisis which started with the separation from the old metropolis make it even more difficult for the Republic of Moldova to define its priorities in relation with the international world and to promote a consistent policy regarding the country’s relationships with its neighbors and in the context of the European integration.
As they have to face more and more difficulties and risks, ruling circles of various political affiliation in Chisinau were often tempted to use simple solutions in promoting an equal distance policy to the East and the West, placing the Republic of Moldova in an area of a quasi-total indifference, extremely risky for a small state, recently emerged on the European map.
Institute for Public Policy – Bucharest
Centre for International Studies – Bucharest
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