Connect with us

Opinion

“The conflict in the Sea of Azov represents a reason to worry for Moldova” The crisis overview and the experts’ opinion

Published

on

A dangerous new crisis between Russia and Ukraine began after Russia seized 3 Ukrainian naval ships on Sunday morning, preventing them to enter the Kerch Strait – a narrow strip of water that links the Black and Azov seas and holds strategic importance for both countries.

According to the Ukrainian navy cited in the international media, a Russian vessel bumped into a Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu. Along with Berdiansk and Nikopol gunboats, it was transiting from Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The Russian vessel opened fire and wounded several sailors. The tugboat Yany Kapu and the gunboat Berdiansk were disabled by the Russian forces and the undamaged Nikopol was taken under control. Russia sent two combat helicopters to the location of the incident, as reported by the Ukrainian Navy. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declares in a statement that Russia acted “aggressively” and “illegally used force against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.”

The office of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko qualified the Russian action against the Ukrainian navy ships as “an act of aggression aimed at deliberately escalating the situation in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.” It also called for international condemnation of Moscow and the imposition of new sanctions. “We consider such actions categorically unacceptable and this aggression has already led to consequences,” said Petro Poroshenko.

On the other hand, the Russian FSB security service states that the border patrol boats captured the Ukrainian naval vessels by using weapons. The FSB declared it was forced to take action as the Ukrainian boats illegally entered its territorial waters and ignored warnings to stop, according to the news agency TASS. “Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” the FSB said. The Russian media speculates that the incident in the Kerch Strait was a conspiracy between the U.S. and Ukrainian authorities for endangering the upcoming meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.

Source: Twitter

As a response to the crisis, Russia temporarily blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait by placing a tanker in the waters under a bridge controlled by Russians. The access way was reopened for the civilian ships only, according to TASS.

The conflict seems to escalate even more as on Monday the Ukrainian lawmakers voted, at the initiative of the country’s president Petro Poroshenko, to declare martial law in 10 regions of Ukraine for a term of 30 days, starting in the morning of November 28th. The martial law also specifies that the election of President of Ukraine was set to March 31st, 2019.

International community

European Union and NATO support the Ukraine sovereignty and its territorial integrity and calls on Russia “to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea,” as Oana Lungescu, the spokesperson of NATO, declares in a statement to CNN. At the same time, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs urged Ukraine and Russia “to refrain from any ratcheting up of actions or rhetoric,” as UN News reports. “[We] remind both [Russia and Ukraine] of the need to contain this incident so as to prevent a serious escalation that may have unforeseen consequences,” she said.

Source: UN News

Several European states, including Romania and Republic of Moldova expressed their concern regarding the development of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait conflict. “Aggression & violation of international law undermine the security of the whole region,” declares the service of the Romanian Ministry of External Affairs. The Moldovan Ministry of External Affairs and European Integration expressed its “profound concern” regarding the occurring events as well. “We firmly blame any acts of aggression and provocation that undermine the regional security,” the ministry said. Both Romanian and Moldovan Ministries support “the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and its rights to use its territorial waters.”

Experts’ opinion

Rosian Vasiloi, the IDIS “Viitorul” expert in security policies, qualifies the Ukrainian actions of transferring its vessels through the Kerch Strait as “not illegal,” taking into consideration the previous agreements between Russia and Ukraine. Whereas the Russian actions “are a flagrant violation of the established agreements, Kremlin trying to set new game rules in the Black and Azov seas and maintaining the position that those are territorial waters under the Russian control,” says Vasiloi.

He considers that the main objectives of the Russian actions is to discourage assistance and support from the European institutions to Ukraine in the defence and security sector, to hinder the intention of joining NATO, as well as convincing the Ukrainian citizens about the weakness of the Navy Forces and promoting the propagandist messages in the context of future Ukrainian elections.

Rosian Vasiloi expresses his expectations concerning a tough reaction from the international community, as tolerating such actions from the Russian side “is way too much.”

“I expect that the Ukrainian authorities and the EU institutions would concentrate their forces for promoting policies and measures that would sanction a possible Russia’s aggression against its neighbouring state.”

The Republic of Moldova should align to these sanctions, considers Vasiloi. “The eventual war declaration from the Russian side is not a thing to be ignored. The risks for the Republic of Moldova are high, taking into consideration the presence of Russian troops on the Moldovan territory. Therefore, a clear reaction and concrete measures from Moldovan side regarding this subject is needed.”

Denis Cenușă, the associated expert at Expert-Grup, considers that the development of the Kerch Strait conflict “will largely depend on the international community’s response.” The actions and decisions of UN, NATO and EU international organizations, as well as the position of individual countries such as the US, Germany, France and the UK, will determine the Moscow’s further steps.

“Taking into account the previous reactions of the international community to Russian aggression (Crime annexation, military action in Donbass, civilian plane MH17 crash, etc.), there is a low probability that other measures than economic and individual sanctions can stop the Russian Federation,” says Cenușă. On the other hand, he mentions that such measures may be followed by reactions of the Russian Federation, including shortening natural gas supplies, reactivating the crisis in Syria, extending economic sanctions, or triggering hybrid activities in countries vulnerable to populist movements.

“The fact that for Putin’s regime the military agenda prevails over diplomacy and “soft power” confirms an alarming direction that the Russian Federation is taking by rejecting international law and bilateral agreements.” This shows that the reformist segments of the Russian society are incapable of sanctioning Putin’s authoritarian regime, whose foreign policy is wholly dominated by militaristic visions, according to Cenușă.

Regarding the conflicting information that appeared in the Russian and Ukrainian media, the expert notices that the Russian Federation is interested in exposing the events in a way it suits. “In the last two decades, the Russian crisis situations have always been misinterpreted by the pro-government press and Russian officials. Therefore, there are no reasons to trust the statements made in the Russian media this time.”

On the background of the information mismatch, one can see what the intentions of the Russian Federation are. First, Cenușă states that Russia uses military atrocities against Ukrainian ships to discredit Petr Poroshenko’s presidency in the context of the presidential election, in which Moscow relies on the candidacy of Yulia Tymoshenko. Second, Moscow wants to flood the national and international public space with the idea that the Azov Sea is treated as a Russian internal geographical area, although in reality this area belongs to Ukraine or it is shared with Ukraine. “So, we are witnessing a new act of legitimizing the illegal integration of Crimea into the Russian territory.” Third, a new trend of expanding the Russian aggression from the earth to the sea can be observed. If in the Donbass region, Moscow claimed that the problem is in the separatist forces, which it can somehow masquerade, then in the waters of the Azov Sea this trend comes to the foreground, regardless of the misinformation angle.

Concerning the possible influence of the conflict in the region, particularly for Moldova, Cenușă points out the opinion of the international military experts suggesting that Russia is capable of anything.

“In a way, we are faced with a security and geopolitical reality easily disputed by Moscow whenever it deems necessary and neglecting any existing diplomatic framework. This represents a reason to worry, as Moldova has Russian military forces stationed in the Transnistrian region, low military training, lack of any solid strategic vision, and a local political context fragile or tolerant of Russian interference.”

The conflict backgrounds

Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, an act that is not legally recognized by the international community, and a war with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, these two countries have been locked in a continuous conflict. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been steadily escalating in recent months.

For example, last month, the conflict extended into the area of religion when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially broke free from Moscow’s control. Besides, Ukraine and the United States have been accusing Russia of interfering with international shipping in and out of the Kerch Strait for some months now.

Featured image source: CNN

Important

The case for a Moldovan MEP

Published

on

“Where is Moldova?”- a commonly asked question everywhere East of Bucharest, and also a British board game. Few know about the existence of the Republic of Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic which got its independence in 1991 and is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.

If one happens to know where is Moldova, it is for a bad reason. It is currently competing with Ukraine for the position of the poorest country in Europe with a GDP per capita hovering somewhere around $5000 per capita (PPP). It constantly comes up as a top origin country for trafficked persons in the US Department of State reports. Around 1 billion US dollars, or one-eighth of its GDP, were taken out of the country’s three banks during 2013-2014 through high-risk loans with the help of EU-based shell companies. It still illegally hosts around 1400 Russian troops on its territory and has not achieved an effective political deal for more than 27 years with a separatist republic in its East. Moldova is also a country with one of the fastest shrinking population in the world and one of the biggest shares of remittances in the GDP. Other than the Epic Sax Guy, Ozone’s “Dragostea din Tei”, and the recently rediscovered wine culture, Moldova is not recognized for good in Europe.

Its recent political successes in foreign policy are limited to three major developments in the relations with the EU: the visa-free regime for Moldovan citizens, the Association Agreement, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). These developments have not only created a framework of cooperation with the EU in areas ranging from rule of law and democratization to market rules and migration but also allowed Moldovan citizens and companies to explore the European Union. Since 2014, around 1,5 million citizens (in a country of 2,9 million) are reported to have traveled to the EU, and the Moldovan companies increased their exports to the EU by at least 10%. In the meantime, the EU also managed to become Moldova’s most important trade and investment partner, overcoming the CIS market by three times in trade value. It is a reality now that the EU is more engaged politically and economically in Moldova than Russia.

But Moldova’s presence in the EU is visible more often in another form: over 600 thousand Moldovans holding the Romanian citizenship. As a result of Romania’s efforts to reintegrate citizens from former Soviet-occupied Romanian territories, more and more Moldovan citizens, mostly Romanian-speaking ones, have started to obtain (or re-obtain, as officially stated) Romanian citizenship for various reasons. After easily proving family roots in the pre-1945 Romania, Moldovans thus could regain their official status of ethnic Romanians, could visit their lost families in current Romania, and, last but not least, travel and work freely in the EU. It has been argued that the latter has been a major motivation for obtaining a Romanian passport, even for those who don’t necessarily identify themselves as ethnic Romanians. This motivation is occasionally criticized in both Romania and Moldova, but one thing is certain: the actions of the “little man” should not be judged and rather be viewed from a very rational perspective in the poorest of Europe’s regions. Consider this: the lack of interest of Moldovan Romanians in Romania’s public life and Romanian politics does worry many “mainland” Romanians. But this assumption does not hold any longer.

At least 2 Moldova-born legislators were elected in Romania’s bicameral parliament, over 30 thousand Moldovans used the ballot box (in Moldova) in the last Parliamentary and Presidential elections to express their voice in Romania’s politics, tens of thousands of Moldovans live and pay taxes in Romania. Most recently, the political integration of Moldovans in Romania has gone to the next level: the European level. Moldova’s former PM Iurie Leancă (whose premiership witnessed the massive bank frauds) is now the third candidate in the list of Pro România, following ex-PM Victor Ponta and the outgoing Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu. With a failed political career back in Moldova, Leancă has the greatest chance of becoming the first Moldovan MEP in EU’s history, considering Ponta and Crețu’s potential comeback to Romanian domestic politics. Another Moldovan on an EP election list is Daniela Șerban, capital markets professional, but the chances of her getting an MEP seat are quite low, despite Alianța 2020’s potential high score on 26 May.

It has to be said that Moldovan do not vote only for other Moldovans in Romania. People’s Movement led by Ukraine-born Eugen Tomac has maintained appeal amongst Moldovan Romanians due to the policy of reintegration and assistance formerly promoted by ex-President Traian Băsescu in regards to Moldovans and the Republic of Moldova. Băsescu might win his MEP seat largely thanks to the support of Moldovans. Although not able to integrate Moldovan Romanians in their EP election lists, the traditional Social-Democrats and National Liberals are likely to gather support in Moldova only with the help of party links with the governing Democrats and the opposition ACUM bloc in Moldova.

Voter turnout numbers from 26 May will show whether the Moldovan Romanians feel relevant to raise their voice in the second biggest election in the world. More importantly, it will reveal (or reconfirm) a relatively new aspect of the changing EU polity: its permeability for voters who have never lived in the EU but are nevertheless attracted to its norms and prosperity.

On the other side of the “fence”, the EU has to embrace Moldova and Moldovans now more than ever. This deepening of the relations should not happen at the expense of the reform conditionality on EU’s help, nor should it be seen as a geopolitical challenge to Russia. Overlooking the slow progress of reforms has led to the demise of the Eastern Partnership’s “success story” and the democratic backsliding in Moldova’s political system, where the ambiguously “pro-EU” government does not bother cooperating with the “pro-Russian” systemic opposition on the basis of power-sharing.

Overlooking Moldova now would be a mistake the EU could not afford. Overlooking Moldovan Romanians would be something the EU could not avoid. Moldovans might integrate faster into the EU than their own Republic.

Continue Reading

Culture

East or West? Celebrating Victory Day and Europe Day at the same time

Published

on

For 3 years, people in the Republic of Moldova have been debating what is more important: celebrating Victory Day or Europe Day on the 9th of May? In 2017, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a law to make Europe Day an official holiday in Moldova, along with Victory Day.

Every political party, regardless of the political views, organize a celebration on this day. This year, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Șor Party organised concerts, parades and demonstrations for celebrating Victory Day, whereas the political bloc ACUM, the Liberal Party (LP) and the National Unity Party (NUP) celebrated Europe Day. Another political actor – the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) tried to please everyone and organised a holiday of “peace and prosperity for Moldova”.

At the same time, the Moldovan Government decided to focus merely on Victory Day and postponed Europe Day for the following weekend, on May 11th-12th. In such a way, they considered the conflict of interests resolved.

Now it’s the proper moment to ask: what is the problem with having 2 different holidays on the same day? In fact, they are not even contradictory. On the contrary, they are related, as the end of World War II and the surrender of the Allies armed forces (which is celebrated on May 8th in Europe) represented an important drive for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner to the European Union. Actually, the only problem with it is the context of the Moldovan social and political behaviour.

First, both holidays are politicized and are transformed into an apple of discord deliberately, as the Moldovan politicians, especially those who are in power today, understand very well that a divided society means a weaker society; therefore, an easier to control society. The debates about directing Moldova to West (the EU) or East (the CIS) never stopped in Moldova. On May 9th, everyone argues about that: the governors, official representatives of the civil society, activists and, consequently, common people that instead of taking time to discuss their real problems, new businesses, initiatives, projects, protests against the injustice that is done to them, most of them are dividing in groups, spreading hatred and treating superficially the true meaning of both celebrations.

People forget that Victory Day is not about expensive concerts organised by the socialists or buckwheat with pickled cucumbers served in the city centre by the democrats. It is not about pompous demonstrations that involve children who are forced to dance synchronously instead of listening from their parents, grandparents and teachers about the tragic consequences of the Second World War.

Children singing and dancing on Victory Day| Photo: ZdG

On the other hand, Europe Day is more than classical music concerts organised in the central park of the Moldovan capital. Behind the exposed photo galleries are people that have been working a lot, searched and applied for European funds, people that didn’t expect somebody to simply come and save them from the poverty, corruption, injustice, etc. Unfortunately, such people are still not enough in Moldova and Europe Day is treated by the majority just as superficially as any other holiday in Moldova: an occasion to eat out, listen to concerts’ music and have fun.

Moreover, the governmental institutions and some big media outlets present the events happening on May 9th as a natural occurrence. So, the fact that several political parties ‘marked’ their territories in the city centre of Chișinău, organizing their own events for their own electorate is considered normal. The direct use of propagandist methods combined with avoidance to declare the events’ costs by the political parties is not a problem in Moldova.

We live nowadays in a country stuck between Eastern and Western worlds, which can perfectly make it without our existence. We live in a country with poor people, morally poor first of all, as we don’t really know much about our past and don’t care as much about our future.  None of these two holidays real meaning is interesting for the biggest majority of the population. We just love their symbolism that takes us back in the past or enables us to dream about the future. May 9th is just another reason to celebrate, not more than that.

Photos: Ziarul de Garda

Continue Reading

Featured

Why do Moldovans have fewer official holidays but still don’t work more than Germans?

Published

on

I am an emigrant. Several years ago, I left my home country – Moldova and, after several changes, I ended up in Germany. No, I am not telling you my life story. You just would need some background information to understand why I decided to call your attention to this sensitive topic.

Every year, I encounter the same situation: a lot of people from Moldova are complaining about too many public holidays in Moldova, empty streets and paralysed public services. Especially during this period: Orthodox Easter Monday (April 29th), Labour Day (May 1st), Memorial Easter (May 6th), Victory Day or Europe day (May 9th) – a reason for one more dissension in the Moldovan society, all of them in just two weeks.

So, in a way, it is understandable why some people are not very happy about it. But are they not happy because of the public holidays’ existence or because of the way things are taken care of during these days?

There are a lot of countries in this world that have more public holidays per year. One of them is Germany. That’s true, one of the most hard-working nations in this world (at least according stereotypes) has slightly more public holidays than we, Moldovans, do. So, does that mean that Germans work less throughout the year? Not necessarily.

Well, let’s take it one by one.

First of all, as compared to the Moldovan people that have 12 public holidays in 2019, Germans, in particular Bavarian people (this is the region where I live in) have 13 officially declared public holidays for the same year. Nonetheless, I never heard that Germans would collectively and continuously complain about that. On the contrary, they love it.

Somehow, they got used to the fact that on national public holidays and on Sundays everything is closed, including the grocery stores. In bigger cities, there is still at least one open grocery store at the central train station. In smaller towns, people have the option of gas stations stores only.

Now imagine how people in Moldova would react if one day the government would decide to implement such a measure and almost all grocery stores would be closed on Sundays. It would be a catastrophe!

Germans learned to plan, to prepare everything in advance. That is one thing that Moldovans need to learn as well.

One more important aspect is that some service industries are still open: public transportation is still punctual, even though, it comes less often, there are enough hotels, cafes and restaurants that provide their services, as well as entertainment and sport institutions like theaters, cinemas, museums, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on, remain open. And of course, the emergency services such as fire, medical, police services are available. People that work in these areas usually receive supplemental pay for working on Sundays and holidays. They understand that their job is important for other people who want to be safe or go out during their free time. At the same time, nobody expects postal services, administrative institutions, fashion shops, travel agencies, family doctors, lawyers to work in these days.

What do I want to actually say through this article? It is not as much about the amount of working time as it is about the efficiency of the effort. It is the government’s job to assure the basic public services during the national public holidays (e.g., public transportation) and it is the people’s job to adapt to the free days setting and plan everything in advance. That refers to Moldovans as well – we should stop complaining and try to be more productive during the working days, so that no frustrations would appear when we have our free days, which are, by the way, not as many as we think.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Latest News

Justice20 hours ago

Maia Sandu asks the magistrates of the Moldovan Constitutional Court to submit their resignation letters

PM Maia Sandu was disturbed by the communiqué issued by the Constitutional Court. The report issued by the CC said...

Important3 days ago

Democrats leave government to the new coalition

The decision was taken after today's National Political Council of the Plahotniuc's party, announced Vladimir Cebortari, vice-president of the DPM.

Important3 days ago

Cristina Balan, the Moldovan ambassador to the US and former DPM vice-president, is ignoring new MFA’s recall for consultations in Chisinau

Moldovan Ambassador to the US Cristina Balan ignored the order of the new Moldovan Foreign Minister in the Government of...

Politics4 days ago

Andrian Candu, ex-President of the Moldovan Parliament, went on a secret visit to Washington

Based on what Plahotniuc had done over the past 10 years of reign over Moldova's public institutions, his sudden and...

Politics4 days ago

Vladimir Putin: “Power in Moldova has been usurped by oligarchs”

The Russian Federation welcomes the co-operation between the Socialist Party of Moldova and the 'ACUM' and is going to support...

Important5 days ago

What we need to know about the recent ECHR decision on behalf of Turkish teachers’ expulsion

Not many might remember, but quite a while ago, on the morning of September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens were...

Politics5 days ago

Ex-PM Filip’s Cabinet of Ministers had a secret meeting and approved two decisions

The now pseudo-government led by Pavel Filip organized a meeting yesterday, 11 June, without announcing it publicly. At the meeting,...

Advertisement

Opinions

Advertisement

Trending