Afgelopen November tekende Moldavië een associatieverdrag met de Europese Unie. Het kleine overwegend Roemeenstalige land dat tot 1991 tot de Sovjet-Unie behoorde wordt momenteel geregeerd door een coalitie van drie partijen, liberaal-conservatieven, sociaaldemocraten en liberalen, die gemeen hebben dat ze Moldavië zo snel mogelijk bij de Europese Unie willen laten aansluiten. Aan het einde van dit jaar zal Moldavië parlementsverkiezingen houden. Deze zullen dankzij de snelle opkomst van de communisten – die een sterkere samenwerking met de Russen voorstaan – zeer spannend worden. Hoog tijd dus om een lid van onze Moldaafse zusterpartij, de Democratische Partij van Moldavië, te vragen naar de laatste ontwikkelingen in het land.
1. Last November, Moldova initialed the Association Agreement with the EU. What does this mean for the development of social democracy in Moldova?
From 2009 onwards, with the democratic parties’ rise to power, following a decade of Communist party dominance, the Moldovan society has grown increasingly supportive of the European integration policy, yet this support is rather intuitive, unstable, and largely uninformed. In the newly born democratic governance process the Democratic Party of Moldova has taken responsibility for the social sector, one that is particularly challenging during times of economic crisis and high expectations of urgent results from the society. European integration in the given sense represents both an opportunity for change and a better living and equally a challenge. The initialing of the Association Agreement by the Republic of Moldova is in the first place a sturdy confirmation of our commitment to European integration, a complex process that involves consistent foreign diplomatic efforts and likewise important actions and efforts domestically, implying in particular reforms such as the harmonization of the national legislation with that of the EU, the reformation of public institutions, reform and strengthening of the judicial system etc. Such prerogatives undeniably demand national consensus building and a wide societal involvement equally associated with an increased level of responsibility of the Moldovan political parties. It is namely to this end, I believe, the initialing of the Association Agreement will foster most.
2. Ukraine had already initialed an Association Agreement with the EU in March 2012, but decided not to sign it at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. It instead decided to restore the ties with Russia. How does this and the current situation in Ukraine affect politics in Moldova?
Ukraine has been and will remain an important and reliable partner in the diplomatic relations of the Republic of Moldova. Nevertheless Ukraine as well as the Republic of Moldova deserve to have a separate consideration and treatment of their individual decisions pertaining to the representation in the EU’s Eastern Partnership and their relationship with the EU in general. The Russian pressure on Ukraine and in the region in general certainly is determinant for the current state of affairs. The referred influence has been much more targeted at Ukraine in view of the fact it was to sign the Association Agreement, a much more weighty advancement compared to the Republic of Moldova’s “mere” initialing of such. That makes it clear for us that the Republic of Moldova will be in the nearest future the subject of a much more powerful Russian political and economical pressure. Additionally such pressure is likely to be achieved by means of artificial escalation of ethnic tensions in sensitive regions of Moldova such as Transnistria and Gagauzia, signs of such efforts already appearing at the beginning of this year. In spite of the somewhat disconcerting current political situation in Ukraine and its relationship in respect with the EU, I am firmly convinced of the Republic of Moldova’s capacity as a sovereign and mature enough state to demonstrate a balanced political environment domestically and firm political commitment and astuteness with regards to our European integration objective particularly. Lastly, under the assumption of a much more increased political pressure from the Russian side in the future, the Republic of Moldova is heavily relying and hoping for a continued wide and timely support from the European Union in counteracting such.
3. What challenges will the Democratic Party of Moldova face in 2014?
Next year, 2014, is crucial in delineating the Democratic Party of Moldova’s and the overall country’s political future for the next years, as regular parliamentary elections are to be held in the Republic of Moldova. Given DPM’s central left position on the political spectrum we have the mission of conciliation and appeasement in the polarized Moldovan political environment. This mission is further unburdened by the powerful political extremes of either pro-Russian or pro-Romanian integration messages intruding the currently readily divided electorate. Advancing our European integration objective is another challenge of the upcoming year, given the referred political environment, and considering the painful reforms that have had to be implemented by the Pro-European Coalition in the past (the governing political block the Democratic Party is part of) in order to realize the European integration objective. The reforms are not always immediately welcomed and evidently many of the reforms have had a negative impact on the ruling political parties, including the DPM. While being primarily concentrated on the governing process and reforms’ advancement, the DPM, equally as other coalition parties, have failed to develop efficient strategies for communication and reach the population, hence leaving more space for populism and speculation for the opposition. It is important that Democratic Party of Moldova can effectively explain and promote the benefits of European integration to the electorate in the upcoming year, among those being: the increased level of democratic and good governance, a fairer judicial system, free access and free trade with the European markets, a higher general level of life, liberalized visa regime etc. This is the stake of success for DPM in 2014, efforts which are bound to be reflected in a good electoral support in order for the social-democratic realms and values to continue to be represented in the Moldovan Parliament and the Republic of Moldova in the future as well. Our utmost challenge resides in successfully balancing the Moldovan political arena by further continuing the strong collaboration ties with all of the democratic parties and unification of the electorate around the European integration objective, crucial preconditions in order to maintain the Republic of Moldova’s European course.