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How Europe is losing Moldova in silence

The European Union struggled hard to pull Moldova on its side. However now the tide is turning, Europe remains silent on the ongoing protests in Chisinau. The country is being torn apart by anti-government protests, protesters who are quietly supported by Russia. The EU is losing face, showing how it only cares about democracy if anti-EU forces are being displayed. It can lose even more, if the moldavian government is overthrown.

Two years ago, the West was broadly involved in the „Maidan” protests in Kiev, aimed at former Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych. Since early September, people in the Moldavian capital, Chisinau, are demanding a governmental and presidential resignation. Following the disappearance of a billion dollars from the banking system (1/8 of Moldova’s GDP1). Former prime minister Vlad Filat has been detained for his involvement in the theft2. The political elite has lost its public trust as they are associated with the country’s oligarchy (and their leader Vladimir Plahotniuc).

The problem for the EU is that the rulers in Moldova are in favor of the EU. European leaders are snookered. Initially protests were called „Moldova’s Maidan”, because tens of thousands demonstrators  (largest protests since 1990) were calling on the government to fight the corruption and fraud. The EU could not get involved, like they could in Ukraine. The difference is that they could not overthrow the government, as the government is already in favor of the EU. Mainstream media realized that reporting on the current affairs in Moldova does not suit Brussels.

Russians quickly realized that they are able to benefit from the situation, being this time on the side of fighting corruption and illegality. At the same time the Socialists and Communists held  their own protests in parallel to ones convened by the civic platform „Dignity and Truth”, the platform favors integration with the EU3. Some initiative has been taken by the biggest faction in the Parliament – Party of Socialists, with their leader,the ex-communist Igor Dodon. He’s accompanied by Renato Usatii, leader of the Our Party. The left-wing parties support integration with Eurasian Economic Union, a project developed by Vladimir Putin.

Russians could take a shot. Moldavian President Nicolae Timofti said: “The situation in the country remains tense and we should mull over it so that we don’t saw off the bough we are sitting on. Those who have nostalgia for the Soviet past and are eager to take the country off the European road may grasp this opportunity”3.  While western medias is not interested, Russian central press agency, TASS, follows this topic regularly.

Time is in favor of the Russians, only 30 percent of Moldavian’s inhabitants is currently supporting European integration4. They are going to be disappointed by the European Union and in the future will be discouraged to support pro-EU parties. The West, who is focused on the migration crisis and the war with ISIS, did not do anything, but suspending new loans and financial support for Moldova; letting the nation of Moldova down.

If the depraved rulers give up their power, the opposition will probably win elections again and will regain the ability to form a ruling-coalition. The EU has the choice between either support the corrupt oligarchic governments or let Moldova fall in the hands of the Russians. The failure for the EU – moral or geopolitical – seems unfortunately inevitable.

References

1. Thousands protest in Moldova against $1 billion bank fraud Source: Reuters 04-10-2015
Around 20,000 Moldovans rallied in the heart of the capital Chisinau on Sunday, demanding the resignation of senior government officials and early elections over a $1 billion bank fraud that has hit living standards.

2. Moldova detains former PM in parliament over $1 billion fraud Source: Reuters 15-10-2015
Former Moldovan prime minister Vlad Filat was detained in parliament on Thursday over the theft of $1 billion from the banking system, a crime that has led thousands to camp out in the capital in protest.

3. Moldova’s mass protests may hamper EU integration — president Source: TASS 14-10-2015
Opponents of the European integration may take advantage of the situation in Moldova gripped by mass protests, President Nicolae Timofti told a conference convened on Wednesday with the aim to seek ways out of the crisis.

4. Moldova: Bogged down between Russia and Europe Source: The Clarion 15-10-2015
After the war broke out in Eastern Ukraine, many observers in Europe held the EU at least partly responsible. Political realists in the West, led by Henri Kissinger and John Mearsheimer, have put at least a part of the blame for Russia`s belligerence on the West.

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