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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.

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Justice

Supreme Court of Justice rejects appeal of Moldova ex-PM Vlad Filat, 9 years sentence stays valid

On 12 December, the Supreme Court of Justice of Moldova rejected as inadmissible the appeal of the former Prime-Minister Vlad Filat.

The Court motivated that the appeals of cancellation regarding Filat’s case are “clearly unfounded”.

According to Ziarul de Gardă, the decision means that Filat used all the national appeal tools and that he can apply for appeal only at the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR). Igor Popa, the lawyer of the former Liberal-Democrat, previously declared that the European Court is the last hope for “justice”.

Former Liberal-Democrat Prime-Minister, Vlad Filat, was arrested on October 15th, 2015 for allegations of passive corruption and traffic influence towards the then businessman and now mayor of Orhei, Ilan Shor. On June 27th, 2016, he was condemned to nine years of closed imprisonment by the Court Buiucani of Chişinău, a decision reinforced by the Appeal Court of Chişinău on November 11th, 2016. Moldova’s Supreme Court rejected Filat’s lawyers’ requests to reexamine the case.

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Politics

Poll ordered by Democratic Party: Socialists-24,7%, PAS-16,3%, PDM-12,4%, PDA-5%

IMAS published the results of a poll on the political preferences of Moldovans at the request of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

The poll shows that the rating for the government party Democratic Party increased- to 12,4%. Nevertheless, the Socialists’ Party would lead with 24,7% of votes in the Parliamentary elections, Action and Solidarity Party- 16,3%. Close to the 5% threshold are Platform “Dignity and Truth” rated at 6,4% and the Communists’ Party with 5%. 9,4% of respondents declared they wouldn’t vote, while 14,1% didn’t know how to answer.

Source: IMAS Moldova

In a case of a referendum, 60% of Moldovans would vote for Moldova join the European Union. 44% would vote for the Eurasian Economic Union, 32% for union with Romania and only 21% for joining NATO. Between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, 56% of  Moldovans prefer the EU.

36% rated the activity of President Igor Dodon with grades from 7 to 10, 33% did so for PAS leader Maia Sandu and PM Pavel Filip, 31% for suspended Chișinău mayor Dorin Chirtoacă.

46% of people have little confidence in the Government led by Pavel Filip, 29% have none or very little confidence, while 19% believe in Filip’s cabinet.

According to the poll, 45% of Moldovans have a bad opinion about the initiative of some NGOs and several parties to start a referendum on switching the electoral system back to a proportional one. 38% have a good opinion about the latter. On the other hand, 63% think to spend the money on this referendum would not be justified.

The poll was conducted during November 27-December 7 with 1101 respondents, with an error rate of 3%.

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Politics

Prime Minister Pavel Filip had a meeting with Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko

The current state of Moldovan-Belarusian relations and the possibilities for starting new partnerships in areas of mutual interest were discussed today in Minsk during the meeting of Prime Minister Pavel Filip with the President of Belarus, Alexandr Lukashenko.

The joint assembly of tractors and trolleybuses has been highlighted among the areas where there is effective and mutually beneficial cooperation. In the future, buses and trolleybuses will be assembled in Chisinau.

At the same time, officials have shown interest in joint investment projects in the wine, agro-industrial, zootechnical and pharmaceutical sectors. Moldova wants to take over the Belarusian experience in developing livestock complexes, and Belarus is interested in creating a joint venture for bottling Moldovan wine and cognac.

At the end of the meeting, Prime Minister Pavel Filip invited President Alexander Lukashenko to visit Moldova.

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