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Romania, Moldova and the US-Romanian Relations

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This opinion piece was written by Dr. Nicholas Dima. Dr. Dima was formerly a Professor of Geography and Geopolitics at Djibouti University, St. Mary’s University College and James Madison University. From 1975 to 1985 and from 1989 to 2001, Dr. Dima was a Writer and Field Reporter at Voice of America. The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

***

On December 1st, Romania celebrated one hundred years since the modern reunification of the country. The nation traces its history back to the old kingdom of Dacia that existed two thousand years ago before the Roman conquest of the land. Then, throughout the middle ages, the Romanian nation lived primarily in the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania. The medieval Principality of Moldova included the current Republic of Moldova. In the course of history, however, two Romanian-inhabited provinces, Bukovina and Bessarabia (Northern and Eastern Moldova) were annexed by Austria and respectively, by Russia. At the end of the First World War and based on their Romanian majority the two provinces reunited with Romania. Thus, modern Romania, like most Eastern European nations, came into being at the end of the war. The Principle of self-determination of Nations, formulated by the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was the cornerstone for rebuilding Eastern Europe.

Subsequently, the Paris Peace Treaty brought a period of stability and tranquility to the continent. During the inter-war period, Romania maintained very good relations with the United States and with her traditional Western European allies. While Austria renounced any further claims, the newly created USSR sought continuously to re-annex Bessarabia. Thus, following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939, the Soviet troops invaded Romania and annexed again not only Bessarabia but also northern Bukovina.

It is worth reminding that Malborne Graham, an American diplomat, published an article in 1944 titled “The Legal Status of the Bukovina and Bessarabia” (American Journal of International Law, October 1944). He wrote that this disputed area of Eastern Europe represented “the most critical territorial problem bequeathed to the present generation as a direct legacy of the age-old Eastern Question.” This territorial problem is still pending.

In 1989, after the dismemberment of the USSR, Moldova declared its independence. However, to this day the truncated land that makes the current Republic of Moldova is still manipulated by Putin and by his men in Chisinau. Consequently, the population has suffered and continues to suffer political oppression and economic hardship. Reminding this historical context on June 26, 1991, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 148. Here are a few excerpts:

To express the sense of the Senate that the United States should support the right to self-determination of the people of the Republic of Moldavia and northern Bucovina… Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the United States Government should–

(1) Support the right of self-determination of the people of Soviet-occupied Moldavia and northern Bucovina and issue a statement to that effect; and

(2) Support future efforts by the Government of Moldavia to negotiate peacefully, if they so wish, the reunification of Romania with Moldavia and Northern Bucovina as established in the Paris Peace Treaty of 1920, the prevailing norms of international law, and in conformity with Principle 1 of the Helsinki Final Act…”

Since 1944 when Graham wrote about the old ‘Eastern Question” and since 1991 when the U.S. Senate addressed the same question, this issue has remained unsolved. Nevertheless, since 1991 the Romanian-American relations have expanded steadily while Moldova has remained under Moscow.

As for the American-Romanian relations and according to official Bucharest sources:

…‘Romania shares the US commitment to transatlantic security, and fully supports endeavors to improve the effectiveness of NATO and strengthen its capabilities to address the current challenges. This can only be done by reinforcing the core pillar of the Alliance, which is collective defense, backed by a credible deterrence. Thus, we are particularly appreciative to our U.S. ally for its strong political support and substantial contribution to projects such as the multinational brigade hosted by Romania, the enhanced maritime presence in the Black Sea or the Combined Joint Enhanced Training Program’…

The 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the very current renewal of Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov require a new approach. It is high time for Washington to redefine its policy in the region. On December 1, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Romania on its centennial. It is a beautiful gesture, but it is not enough. America should realize once and for all that Romanians and Moldovans are the same people! It is in the strategic interest of the United States to do so!

Romania is currently a member of the European Union, a solid member of NATO, and a staunch American ally. In the new political climate and the new geopolitical configuration of Europe, Romania is one of the main pivots of U.S. policy in Eastern Europe. And Romania’s location by the Black Sea enhances her significance for America and the West in a region threatened by instability and aggressive neighbors. It is time for a new policy and approach.

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

Opinion

The experts’ opinions: What are the possible ‘combinations’ in the future parliament?

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The future Parliament of the Republic of Moldova could be divided between several political parties: The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP) – that form the electoral bloc ACUM, and the “Șor” Party. No party has the majority; therefore, a political coalition needs to be formed for voting the future Government. That is where the public, media and the political analysts started to speculate on possible options.

The DPM-PSRM coalition

Igor Boțan, the Executive Director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, believes that the most probable and realistic option is a DPM-PSRM coalition, as both the DPM and the PSRM have adopted a “pro-Moldova” attitude and already have experience with forming an alliance. “Regarding the Moldova’s foreign relations, Vlad Plahotniuc and Igor Dodon plead for the idea that Moldova should become a sort of bridge between East and West,” as Boțan states for REL/RL. Boțan considers that the DPM and the PSRM have always had common interests.

“When addressing the bloc ACUM for negotiations, the Democratic Party actually makes a proposal to the Party of Socialists.”

The only impediment in a smooth process of negotiations between the DPM and the PSRM would be an eventual disagreement with Russia, which is interested in maintaining the current political situation in Transnistria, in controlling the Moldova’s exports and imports volumes to the EU and keeping its dominance over Moldova through the Orthodox church and Russian media influence, according to Igor Boțan.

The DPM-ACUM coalition

The decision taken by the electoral bloc ACUM to not create any coalitions with any party that passed the threshold of the people’s vote for entering in the parliament has been heavily criticized, especially by the political experts whose position is favourable to the DPM. Therefore, the political pundit Corneliu Ciurea, declared for PublikaTV – a channel controlled by the Democratic Party that “the bloc ACUM does not want to sit at the negotiating table.” He believes that without a support from the Western partners that would encourage those from the bloc ACUM to have a dialogue, they won’t be willing to negotiate with the Democratic Party, as IPN reports.

On March 1st, the DPM deputy chairman Vlad Cebotari announced during a press conference that the Democratic Party sent letters to the DTPP and the PAS inviting them to negotiate a parliamentary majority, so as to ensure effective government of the Republic of Moldova, in line with people’s expectations, as the DPM press release states.

On the other hand, Andrei Năstase, one of the leaders of the bloc ACUM, declared for ProTV that the DPM is trying to imitate the process of forming an alliance. “From that letter, I deduced the hurry in which the Democrats try to mimic the process of forming an alliance. The bloc ACUM will never form an alliance with the thieves, the ruling mafia, those who degraded the country and its people. One of our main commitments was to not form an alliance with the party of Plahotniuc (the DPM), the party of Dodon (the PSRM), the party of Șor or the party of Usatîi – all the oligarchic and anti-European parties”, stated Năstase.

The PSRM-ACUM coalition

Discussing a possible temporary coalition between the bloc ACUM and the PSRM is an idea promoted by some analysts as the most relevant possibility of the majority creation in the Parliament.

In the opinion of Alexei Tulbure, a political commentator from Moldova, a temporary coalition could be created, based on the fact that more than 60 mandates were obtained by the parties that, at least formally, declared themselves against the current system. “I understand that it is impossible to have a long-term, stable coalition between the PSRM and ACUM, because the priorities are very different, but it is a possibility for a ‘stalemate’ against the DPM in an attempt to free the state institutions from Plahotniuc’s people,” said Tulbure for JurnalTV.

In the same time, Igor Boțan declared that “if there is no trust between the partners, even if the partners have different visions, no provisional coalitions are possible. The part who swallows the bait will suffer afterwards.”

Such a combination would mean a ‘political suicide’ for ACUM, according to the publicist Vitalie Ciobanu. “The socialists are just as rotten and corruptible as the democrats. In addition, the PSRM is a Kremlin’s ‘remote control’,” said Ciobanu.  He asks himself how an alliance of the bloc ACUM with those who want the federalization of the Republic of Moldova would look like. “To make all these sacrifices for the sake of an alliance that would break at the first turn – ACUM would be a political loser and a traitor in the eyes of the people who set their hopes on them,” commented Ciobanu.

Calling snap elections or other ‘creative’ alternatives

In the same time, the political analysts admit the possibility that the DPM would ‘convince’ some politicians from other parties to adhere to the DPM, just like it happened in the previous parliament.

According to the political analyst Dionis Cenușă, the Bloc ACUM needs to decide, whether to influence the governance process or to hold the opposition role in the parliament. “The difficulty of such a decision depends equally on the success of the Democrats’ ultimate establishment of a coalition with the “Șor” Party, the three independent candidates, and necessarily at least 11 representatives of the Socialists (PSRM). If the slightest risk of such a scenario persists, then the Bloc ACUM needs to prepare for early elections or for the forced prolongation of the current government,” stated Cenușă for IPN.

Recently. all 35 members of the PSRM, elected in the national and single-seat constituencies, presented a statement obliging them to work  within a single faction in the future legislature.
The PSRM president, Zinaida Greceanîi, declared that at the moment the party does not negotiate any alliances, and the allegations regarding the possible coalitions between the PSRM and other parties are just speculations.

Another possible scenario seems to be prepared by the DPM, as the party member Sergiu Sîrbu filed a petition to the Constitutional Court on February 28th, demanding the transfer of the Parliament’s powers to the Government in case of blocked parliamentary activity. In other words, Sîrbu asked for the settlement of an interim period for the Government in office, where it could issue normative acts, including in the area of ​​regulating laws to ensure the continuity of power.

The best conclusion for this article can be made using the declarations of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM) former president – Viorel Cibotaru: “There are no suitable options, miracle solutions. We expect a long and hard positional war, close fights in the parliament and other public institutions.” Cibotaru thinks that people must organize strikes, protests, demonstrations, any kind of national resistance, if necessary, to establish the values they share. In the same time, he advises the public to not put pressure on the newly entered in the parliament parties. 

“Let our new politicians invent something new, amaze us with something else. Do not bother them and teach them what to do. Let them manage it by themselves. We will help them not slip into the labyrinth of power … “,

Photo: sputnik.md

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A former Liberal Democratic Party president about the pressure on “ACUM” opposition bloc and the DPM-SPM link

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Former Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, Viorel Ciboraru, says that the pressure put on bloc “ACUM”(PAS + Dignity and Truth Platform) to create a majority with the Socialist Party for Democratic Party’s “situational” elimination is aimed at further justifying the alliance between DPM-SPM. In this schematic of the politician, the “ACUM” bloc will be declared guilty because it would not have made an alliance with the Socialist Party.

“All the pressure put on us today to create a non-bloc with PSRM for the “situational” elimination of the Democratic Party from power has a clear purpose: to lay down a most credible story for the true DPM-SPM alliance, lived in 2016 (and earlier, but in 2016 it became evident).

I’m waiting for another DPM move. To propose to “ACUM”, concretely – a hyper-European and reformist program: approaching NATO, the EU membership, the integration programs and intensive cooperation with Romania, the 50/50 government (and the post of prime minister, of course). But in this program, there will be a comma or two that will annihilate the virtual proposal. That is to demotivate the West: “you see how far we were ready to go …” Again, Maia and Andrei – the guilty ones.

However, there are no good variants. Miracle solutions – not even. As anticipated by more people, we expect a long and hard “positional war”, “melee” battles in parliament, in public institutions, on the ground. Ready with slogans, more grueling work of analyzing, monitoring, observing, criticizing, unmasking, and depicting the corrupt power being re-installed. And strikes, protests, demonstrations, any kind of national resistance, if necessary, to establish the values ​​that we share and which we can no longer deny.

Civil society (the associative sector, independent and corporate affiliates, freelancers and bloggers, alternative media, progressive priests, beta-unionists, teachers and researchers) must re-invent, revive, be more dynamic and more self-sustaining, more ingenious and … more optimistic, after all.”, declared Viorel Cibotaru.

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Important

Were the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova free and fair? The conclusion of election observation missions

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Several national and international elections observation missions issued official statements and reports comprising preliminary findings and conclusions regarding the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova held on February 24th. Some of them raised a red flag, expressing their concerns about the way the election process was organised.

The OSCE International Election Observation Mission of the parliamentary elections mentioned in its report that “The 24 February 2019 parliamentary elections were competitive and fundamental rights were generally respected.”

The report stated that due to the control and ownership of the media by political actors, the range of viewpoints presented to voters was limited. In the same time, “most aspects of the elections were administered in a professional and transparent manner.”

Taking into consideration that these were the first elections held under the mixed electoral system and that a referendum was held on the same day, “the electoral bodies faced difficulties with reconciling result protocols” and it also “caused confusion among some voters and commission members.”

Even though the report highlighted that “the legal framework generally provided an adequate basis for conducting democratic elections,” it also mentioned that the lack of transparency in the way some polling stations were allocated “contributed to the perception that the decision was made for political reasons.” Here is important to add that several polling stations abroad were allocated in small cities of Italy or USA, for example, in contradiction to the Moldovan voters’ preliminary registration for the elections.

The OSCE report brought up the subject of media reflection of the electoral campaigning, saying that some national TV channels did not comply with the legal requirements to provide fair, balanced and impartial campaign coverage.

“Main campaign messages focused on socio-economic issues, while geopolitical and foreign policy topics received less attention.”

Additionally, the report noted the “large-scale bussing of voters from Transnistria and that police initiated an investigation into whether some of them were paid to vote.”

On the other hand, the statement of Transparency International – Moldova on monitoring parliamentary elections was less optimistic:

“Transparency International – Moldova expresses its deep concern about the spread of political corruption in the Republic of Moldova and the superficiality with which some institutions have monitored the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019.”

The organisation noted that “these elections took place in conditions of state capture, when most of the relevant public institutions demonstrated political fidelity to the ruling party, often neglecting legal rigor.”

The context mentioned by Transparency International – Moldova included money laundering; the legislative initiatives dedicated to legalizing money with fraudulent provenience (the citizenship by investment law and the law on capital liberalization and the fiscal amnesty); modifying the electoral system, despite the recommendations of the Venice Commission; issuing integrity certificates to compromised candidates; massive persecution of political opponents, local leaders, civic activists through law enforcement institutions and controlled media; mass transportation of voters from Transnistria and their compulsion to vote for a specific candidate for payment; launching populist projects involving enormous public resources by the parties in power; impeding the diaspora to vote using expired passports or contest this limitation of the right to vote, etc.

The Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections assessed the parliamentary elections of February 24th, 2019 as incorrect and partially free. The assessment was made based on the electoral system modification prior to the elections, use of the administrative resources in electoral campaigning, voters bribing, restriction of the voting rights of citizens from diaspora, lacunae and errors in the State Electoral Register and voter rolls, intimidation of national observers and attempts to compromise civic education campaigns, etc.

The Promo-LEX Observation Mission for the parliamentary elections of February 24, 2019 presented in a press release 420 incidents that occurred during the election day. The incidents included 8 cases of providing restricted access or obstruction of free observation in the polling station, 22 cases of violence or intimidation of voters, 22 cases of rumours, attempts, or even factual material or monetary rewards offered to voters in the perimeter and /or near the polling station to influence the voters’ choice, 38 cases of unjustified group voting, 24 cases of unjustified presence of unauthorized persons within the polling station, 18 cases of electoral campaigning or adverse campaigning at the entrance to/in the polling station in order to influence the voters’ choice, 39 cases of organised transportation of voters, 61 cases of deficiencies in electoral lists (address discrepancies, deceased voters, signatures in place of other people), 13 cases of deficiencies in the operation of the SIAS Elections System (suspension of operation, situations when SIAS Elections System indicates that the voter voted, and he claims not to), 50 cases of photographing of ballot papers or other violations of the secret voting, 4 cases of voting of a suspiciously large number of voters residing at one and the same address, and others.

Photo: sputnik.md

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