President Vladimir Voronin said recently that Moldova's pro-European foreign policy orientation and its simultaneous participation in „integration projects” within the Commonwealth of Independent States is „logical and consistent.” Mr. Voronin made the statement during a reception on January 29 for diplomats residing in Moldova and participants at an informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers from countries participating in the South-East European Cooperation Process.
„We are often criticized for being „omnivorous” in our foreign policy, for moving toward the European Union without turning our backs on our partners in the East. I am talking about our relatively interested activism in pursuing integration projects within the CIS, and our attachment to a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation. We, however, believe that our position is logical enough and consistent enough,” declared President Voronin.
Voronin added that Moldova does not perceive European integration as a „friendship against someone, as a caricature attempt at isolating ourselves from Russia and CIS countries with a new artificial iron curtain. We perceive our European option as a form of realizing the values of openness and universality, as an ability to find different fields for establishing durable and viable partnerships.”
At the same time, President Voronin admitted that no precedents for such partnerships exist and hinted at the fact the CIS countries remain unable to overlook „narrow state egoism.”
According to Mr. Voronin, during its presidency of the CIS, Moldova will push an agenda that is „not formal at all,” and applicable to „both the EU and the CIS.”
Nicu Popescu: There should be a difference between integration and cooperation
Nicu Popescu, a political analyst and researcher with the London-based European Council for Foreign Relations, says that a distinction needs to be made between integration and cooperation. „European integration is absolutely compatible with very good relations with Russia, Ukraine, or Armenia, but is incompatible with integration in the CIS. European integration implies European values and legislation – the CIS is very different from the EU in this sense. Russian standards, for example, when it comes to democracy or the economy, are different from European standards, for which reason Moldova cannot simultaneously integrate in both directions,” argues Mr. Popescu.
In the expert's opinion, some of the advantages of cooperating with the CIS include the fact that this organization „has been a safety belt during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, but it no longer plays that historical role and can no longer play a positive role in the future of Moldova as an independent state that wishes to become European.”
With regards to a comparative ability of the CIS and the EU to avoid the global economic crisis, Mr. Popescu avers that the former cannot be compared to the latter because „the CIS is only a club of states and, broadly speaking, does not have an instrument to overcome the crisis. The EU, however, is a completely different actor, with a substantial budget that is used to help member states build roads, pay agricultural subsidies, develop energy infrastructure and, therefore, use such instruments and other abilities to already help member-states who are in crisis.”
Nicu Popescu concludes that, if Moldova exited the CIS, it would not lose too much because „the real ties of cooperation Chisinau has with the East are not established through the CIS, but bilaterally with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and so on. The CIS only has symbolic value.”
Valentin Krilov: Membership in the EU is not prohibited by the CIS status, but there is the security problem
Valentin Krilov, executive secretary of the Patria-Rodina Socialist Party agrees with President Voronin's idea that Moldova can cooperate with the EU and the CIS simultaneously. „Membership in the EU is not prohibited by the CIS status, but there is the security problem. Most EU states are members of NATO, and European security norms are actually NATO norms,” believes Mr. Krilov. In Mr. Krilov's opinion, cooperation within the CIS would bring Moldova a series of socio-economic advantages, while EU cooperation would help the country achieve „real democracy.”
„With regards to the current economic crisis, the CIS is more attractive for Moldova because Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, for example, are strong economically. These governments simply need to coordinate their actions and cooperate more actively to overcome the effects of the crisis. The West is dealing with a much more severe situation. We are witnessing protests in France, Germany, unemployment is on the rise, while the CIS has work for everybody. If we leave the CIS, where will the great number of our citizens who work in Ukraine and Russia go?,” wonders Krilov.
Valeriu Muravschi: The CIS was created by Russia to dominate the former Soviet republics
Former Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi said in a recent interview with Radio Free Europe that Moldova's membership in the CIS has never had a positive effect. „This structure was created by Russia to dominate the former Soviet republics. If in the beginning domination was more geopolitical, we are witnessing economic domination in the last few years,” adds Mr. Muravschi.
Moldova joined the CIS in 1994. From the outset, the country refused to join the Community's military structures. Data show that from 1995 until 2002, Moldova's exports toward the CIS have been on a constant downward slope, dropping by 1.1% per year, even 1.5% when it comes to Russia. In the same period, exports toward the EU have gone up by an average of 1.66% annually. In 1997, 70% of Moldovan exports were going to the CIS. These fell to 52.9% in 2003 and 39.3% in October, 2008. Exports to the European Union amounted to 51.4% in October, 2008.
Nicu Popescu is a researcher with the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations. His areas of expertise include European neighborhood policies, post-Soviet conflicts, relations between the EU and Russia, Moldova, and the South Caucasus. Mr. Popescu is working on a doctorate from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He is fluent in English, French, Russian, and Romanian.
Valeriu Muravschi was Prime Minister of Moldova between May 28, 1991 and July 1, 1992. He was a constant presence in Moldovan politics until he turned to the private sector. Mr. Muravschi was born on July 31, 1949 in the village of Sirato (Orhei). He holds a degree from Chisinau's Sergei Lazo Polytechnical Institute (1971). After graduation, Mr. Muravschi worked as an economist until 1990, when he becomes Minister of Finance in Mircea Druc's cabinet (1990-1991). Valeriu Muravschi was P.M. during the Transnistrian conflict (March-July, 1992). On July 1, 1992, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur replaced him with Andrei Sangheli. According to some rumors at the time, Sangheli's appointment was one of the conditions of the Eltin-Snegur Convention (1992), which required the formation of a „government of conciliation” in Moldova. In 1993, Mr. Muravschi founds the Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party, which he headed until its disappearance in 2002. In 1998, Muravschi was elected on the lists of the “For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova” Bloc, led by Dumitru Diacov, and served as an M.P. until 2001.
Valentin Krilov has been executive secretary of the Patria-Rodina Socialist Party of Moldova since 1998. He was born on January 12, 1953, in Chisinau. Mr. Krilov is a graduate of the Marine Superior School in Leningrad (now Sankt Petersburg), with a degree in electrical engineering. He served in the Soviet Union Military Navy until 1992. Mr. Krilov was an M.P. from 1990 until 1998, elected on the lists of the Socialist Unity Bloc.
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