This is an excerpt of a lengthy analysis written with my colleague Olga Kousi for U.S News and World Report, about how a new regime in Moldova has seen the country turn away from Brussels and move instead towards Moscow.Christina Petru Ph. D, Olga L. Kousi, MPhil
THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA was once the poster child for the European Union‘s Eastern Partnership program. Today – locked between the EU’s member states to its west, the separatist Soviet breakaway state of Transnistria to its east, and the restive, Russian-speaking region of Ukraine to its south – Moldova remains the continent’s poorest economy. The country is steadily moving further away from Euro-Atlanticism, American ideals and European integration in favor of ties to Moscow.
Moldova has been forgotten for many reasons — namely, internal disputes between the EU member states and impeachment proceedings in the United States. Unfortunately, we cannot defer action any longer in Moldova. A Moscow-backed dictatorship has emerged in the country, with a president whose family is doing business with Kremlin-backed oligarchs and who is persecuting its pro-Western opponents. A nation lost in transition now risks the same fate as Ukraine.
The pro-Western revolution that took place in Moldova in 2009 came after decades of communist rule. The country witnessed tangible benefits in the form of visa liberalization for Moldovan nationals, the ratification of free trade agreements with the EU and the release of generous U.S. funding. Serious structural change was hindered by corruption and clientelism, but in powerful pro-Western businessmen such as Vladimir Plahotniuc and the Democratic Party’s coalition, Moldova’s pro-Russia Socialist Party was forced to steer clear of deep diplomatic ties to Russia and instead sign an association agreement with the EU. Plahotniuc was the only check on current President Igor N. Dodon. Since Plahotniuc’s decision to seek exile last June, Dodon has steered Moldova from the European path. Moldova is now deeply affiliated with Moscow. Read the full editorial here, with usnews.com.