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What is the fuss around US aid for Moldova’s Army?

An article published this week by Russia Today reported that US Navy is going to build “military objects” at Moldova’s Bulboaca training base which would be used to train troops for an eventual attack against the closely-located breakaway Transnistria. The article could have been ignored as another attempt of disinformation aimed at the public opinion, but it was not the case.

The infamous, non-grata Russian Deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, even shared the piece on his Facebook profile, reinforcing the claim that the Americans are starting the training of special troops of RM (Republic of Moldova) for the case of another armed conflict with Transnistria. Commenting for RT, Moldovan President, Igor Dodon promised to check the information on US plans in Bulboaca. Later, he announced he would visit the base on August 14th to clarify the state of the things, adding that he would not accept the Moldovan soldiers to be pieces of any military camp.

Clarification

Moldovan Ministry of Defense had nothing but to dissipate the disinformation spread by RT. In a press-release, it clarified that since 2012 Moldova benefits from a $1,6 million grant for infrastructure modernization of Bulboaca Military Training Base, as a partner within the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). Moreover, Defense Ministry stressed out that the US funds from GPOI were used to improve the training of Moldovan 22nd Peacekeeping Battalion for participating in UN peacekeeping missions- activities that are not connected with NATO and that do not affect Moldova’s neutrality.

On August 10th, the US Ambassador to Moldova, H.E. James Pettit, paid a visit to Bulboaca base to reconfirm the American interest in improving the peacekeeping capacities of Moldovan National Army and to check how GPOI funds are being spent. Together with deputy chief of National Army General Staff, Colonel Eduard Ohladciuc, Pettit visited the multifunctional target range, the two shooting ranges and the three barracks- all part of the first stage of the project. The officials also went to see the base staff headquarters and the tactical town used for practical training (now under renovation).

According to the US Embassy in Moldova, the United States has already invested $1,1 million to improve training areas and roads in Bulboaca, and anticipates investing at least another $1,2 million.

What about the $12,7 million for Army modernization?

Furthermore, Pettit responded to questions arisen after the recent declaration of former Defense Minister Anatol Șalaru on US cancelling the $12,7 million aid to the National Army because of President Dodon blocking Moldova’s participation in international exercises.

Speaking of the Foreign Military Financing to Moldova, Pettit declared that the funds were rather suspended, not canceled:

“The financial assistance was not suspended at all. Unfortunately, we have noticed that the National Army did not participate in military exercises abroad this year”, the American diplomat said.

“…There is only a break in equipment supply, because we need to make a clear plan on future participation of the National Army in exercises abroad. I hope that the army will participate and this is going to happen soon”added Pettit, but did not answer what would happen if President Dodon will continue to make Moldova’s army not attend international exercises.

In February 2017, as commander-in-chief, President Igor Dodon refused to sign the decree of deployment of Moldovan troops to Platinum Eagle 2017, an exercise in Romania involving soldiers from Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Slovenia, Romania (NATO), and non-NATO Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine. Dodon then motivated the refusal to allow deployment of troops to the joint exercise with the lack of an approved Defense Minister and lack of arguments in favor of the participation.

Meanwhile, Defense ex-Minister Șalaru announced he would submit a penal complaint against Dodon for undermining the national defense system of Moldova by scaring $12,7 million off with refusals to participate in regional military exercises.

What happens with the American aid for the Moldovan army will probably be clearer after Dodon visits Bulboaca Training Base on August 14th.

***

Note:

  • The National Army of Moldova has been participating in international peacekeeping missions since 1997, with a total of almost 300 officers and NCOs in Iraq, Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Georgia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Kosovo.
  • Established in 2005, GPOI is the U.S. contribution to the G8 Action Plan to improve international peacekeeping operations. Since 1997, the GPOI program and its predecessor programs have trained national forces of over 53 nations for international peace operations.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

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Politics

Poll: PSRM- 49%, PPDA – 15%, PDM – 13% and PAS – 11%

Should parliamentary elections be held next Sunday, four parties would pass over the threshold into the legislature. They are PSRM, PPDA, PAS and PDM. This comes out of the latest poll by the Sociologists and Demographers Association from Moldova.

Almost 50% of the respondents with clear voting intentions would cast their ballots for the Socialists Party (49.7%). The number of the Socialists’ voters has slightly dropped, compared to the results of a similar research presented in April (50.5%).

PPDA would come second and would collect 15.9% of the votes of the interviewed. In April, the rating of Andrei Năstase’s party was 8.9%.

The Democratic Party from Moldova would garner 13.5%, compared to 10.7% in April. The ranking of the parties with chances to get into the Parliament is closed by Maia Sandu’s organization. PAS would get 11.1% of the votes from the decided respondents, as compared to 19.3% in the previous poll.

The poll was carried out from June 26 through July 7 on a sample of 1,195 respondents from 81 Moldovan localities. The error margin is +/-3%.

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Politics

“Let’s stop the dictator”: Protest in Chișinău against the invalidation of mayor election results

1 July 2018- Another protest called “Let’s stop the dictator!” is taking place today in Chișinău over the invalidation of election results, hence the mandate of Andrei Năstase as mayor-elect.

The protesters ask for the validation of the results of Chișinău mayor elections, suggesting that the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, obviously bothered by Năstase’s win, influenced the judicial decision. On June 29th, the Central Electoral Commission took the decision to invalidate the results, after Moldova’s Supreme Court annulled the results.

LIVE Video of the results:

On June 25th, Moldova’s Supreme Court of Justice rejected the complaint of Chișinău mayor-elect Andrei Năstase and upheld the decision to invalidate the results of June 3 mayoral elections.
The initial invalidation decision was a claim that 3 Facebook live videos posted by Năstase on election day and calling people to vote allegedly influenced the results. The court decided to annul the results based on a complaint filed by the Socialists’ Party, but later even Năstase’s former opponent Ion Ceban declared he wanted the court “just to notice some violations”, not to completely cancel the election results.
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Politics

Mogherini, Hahn: We expect the Moldovan authorities to take measures ensuring Chișinău election results are respected

27 June 2018- EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn made a statement on the invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chișinău.

According to Mogherini and Hahh, the “non-transparent invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chișinău”, confirmed by Moldova’s Supreme Court on June 25th, “deprives the people of Chișinău of their democratically-elected mayor, Mr. Andrei Năstase(…)”. Moreover, it was not requested by any of the participants in the election.

“This decision undermines the trust of the Moldovan people in the state institutions. It is to be noted that none of the participants of the electoral process asked for the annulation of the elections.”

The European officials reminded that the independence of the justice system is one of the conditions of the current EU-Moldova Association Agreement:

An independent judiciary, free from any political pressure, ruling in a transparent manner, as well as credible, inclusive and transparent elections at all levels are pillars of any democracy. Respect for democratic values and the rule of law are also at the heart of the European Union’s relations with the Republic of Moldova, as our Association Agreement testifies.
The European Union expects the Moldovan authorities to guarantee judicial independence in line with its international commitments as one of the key principles of the rule of law, a crucial element of democracy, and a long-standing expectation of the Moldovan citizens.
In the end, Hahn and Mogherini are asking the Moldovan authorities to take “appropriate measures” to ensure the election results are respected.
(…)we expect the Moldovan authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure that the results of the Chisinau mayoral elections, as recognised also by national and international observers and reflecting the will of the voters, are respected.
In this regard, the message might be addressed to the judicial authorities, quite possible the Supreme Council of Magistrates, and not to the governing Democratic Party, who is thought to be controlling the judicial system in Moldova.

On June 25th, Moldova’s Supreme Court of Justice rejected the complaint of Chișinău mayor-elect Andrei Năstase and upheld the decision to invalidate the results of June 3 mayoral elections.
The initial invalidation decision was a claim that 3 Facebook live videos posted by Năstase on election day and calling people to vote allegedly influenced the results. The court decided to annul the results based on a complaint filed by the Socialists’ Party, but later even Năstase’s former opponent Ion Ceban declared he wanted the court “just to notice some violations”, not to completely cancel the election results.
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