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Moldova's path to the EU: Myth or Reality?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

In this paper I would like to present Moldova`s path to the EU and try to respond to the paper`s question: is it a myth or a is it a reality?

In order to respond to this question I will analyse the country`s profile from three relevant perspectives. The first one is from the perspective of Romania, a country tied to Moldova because of territory, history and linguistic heritage.  The second one is from Russia` s point of view since it was a territory under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The third one is from EU`s perspective.

Before starting this analysis I would like to make a brief comment in order to describe the current situation of Moldova.  I had the opportunity to visit Moldova 2 years ago and I was truly surprised at the diversity of strong and very different political mentalities existing in the country.

Moldova`s history is very complex  and sensitive for many people and if I would have to describe people`s mentality I  would  have to say that they can be divided into three categories: those who consider themselves as being Moldovans, those who consider themselves as being Romanians and lastly those who consider themselves as being Russians. This distinction is especially relevant in connection with the end of the paper. I will conclude with the results of the recent Moldovan parliamentary elections; the votes casted by people are reflections of their identity and in the case of Moldova: their ethnic identity differences.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the paper, firstly I would like to present the friendly relations between Moldova and Romania.  To better understand the closeness of the two, I will start with a brief historical introduction. Moldova (Basarabia), was part of Romania untill 1812, when it became part of the Russian empire. The territory  was much debated by the European powers at that time. Later on it became again part of Romania in 1918 when the  unification was made  and Romania became an independent country. But the situation changed in 1940, when Romania lost its territory during Second World War. After Second World War it became part of the Soviet Union and it gained its independence in 1991 after the Soviet Union collapsed.

In this context it is important to say that currently most Moldovans also have Romanian citizenships, which were given by Romania`s  president Traian Basescu. An interesting fact about Moldova is the effect of Russian oppression on its language. Because of this oppression the Romanian spoken in Moldova could not develop freely and differs from that spoken in Romania; it is a more archaic form of Romanian. This difference is also expressed in Moldova’s constitution, the state language is Moldovan, not Romanian.

Despite its independence Russian is a mandatory subject in Moldovan schools, it is impossible to meet a Moldovan who is not fluent in Russian. Most of them learn Romanian at school, using Romanian textbooks. Romania also supports Moldovan education by granting scholarships to students from Moldova. Looking at such strategic moves it can be said that Romania is investing a lot in Moldova, with the aim of bringing Moldova closer to Europe.

Russia`s opinion on this matter is not only quite different but also very relevant. Moldovan has been part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, creating thus a powerful liaison between the two countries and their inhabitants. Moldova lost one of its territories to Russia, Transdniestria. This is an independent territory which is not recognised by the international community, except for Afkazia and South Osetia, which were both  part of Georgia, but became independent in 2008. In turn, the only country recognising the independence  of Afkazia and South Osetia  is the Russian Federation.

Returning to Transdniestria,  this territory is a territory financed by Russia. The inhabitans of the territory are pro Russians, people who do not recognise the central government in Chisinau and who refuse to join the Moldovan territory. For these reasons there is an OSCE mission now in Moldova and their mandate is focused on conflict resolution. The dispute in the region is rooted in the conflict that broke out in 1992 between the Transdniestrian authorities and the central government in Chisinau. There were violent clashes which resulted in several hundred casualties and more than 100 000 displaced persons. In Juy 1992 a ceasefire was agreed and the parties to the conflict agreed to negotiate a settlement in order to end the conflict. OSCE`s mission also includes other activities in the region, such as  human rights issues, arms control and improving the rule of law in Moldova, supporting the election process and also developing freedom of expression. OSCE`s delegations are monitoring every progress made in the region and even if the situation has improved since the international community`s interference still the current situation is hampering Moldova`s future  European integration.

Moldova has already made significant steps in its pro-European journey. I would like to start with EU`s mission in Moldova and Ukraine called EUBAM and after that continue with the Association Agreement signed between Moldova’ Ukraine’ Georgia’ with the European Union. EUBAM has its role to conduct an extensive range of activities with civil society and in particular the academic community.  They don`t control any part of the border. Therefore the role of the mission is to also offer technical advice to their partners in Moldova ( border guard, customs services and any other relevant law enforcement agencies both of Moldova and of Ukraine).   EUBAM is basically helping Moldova and Ukraine in their fight against corruption at their borders (smuggling drugs, alcohol, etc).

In addition to EUBAM`s mission, Moldova took another important step with Ukraine and Georgia [on the 27th of June 2014] they signed the Association Agreement. This is surely a symbolic moment for all three countries. The Association Agreement will deepen economic and political ties with the EU in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. Since the EU has expanded, these countries have become closer neighbours, reason for which their stability, security and prosperity affect the EU.

This agreement also includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which is expected to bring various economic benefits for Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Foremost it will give businesses access to the EU`s single market, which is the largest single market in the world. It will create business opportunities and it will bring higher standards of goods, better services and it will also increase competitiveness. Under this agreement the EU will work with these partner countries in order to launch the necessary reforms and aid industries in reaching the required standards.  Looking at these Association Agreements I would have to say that the EU is bringing these countries  closer to the European family by helping them grow, develop,  make reforms, thus removing them from Russia`s sphere. In a couple of years from now I expect these countries signing Accession Treaties with the EU.

After presenting these perspectives I would also like to briefly analyse the results of the parliamentary elections in Moldova, elections which are highly important in the context of Moldova`s European future. The Moldovan parliamentary elections have shown two major thinking groups in Moldova, the pro Russians and the pro Europeans. Even so, if all the pro European parties unite they will still have a majority in the Parliament and continue Moldova`s path towards the European Union. So to conclude and try to answer to the rhetorical title of the paper Moldova`s path to the EU- Myth or Reality, in my opinion it can became a reality. I wish Moldova good luck with its future endeavours on this matter.


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