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October 16, 2021

A president after 917 days

The election on March 16 this year of the new president of the Republic of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti, which ended a crisis that has been going on for almost three years, is, no doubt, an event with a European meaning. In order to reveal this meaning, I will divide this analysis into four different levels. The first one is the importance of this event for the Republic of Moldova, the second one is its importance for the European Union, the third one is the identification of the way in which Russia has actually received it and the forth and last level would be the way in which it has been received in Romania. So, at first, let’s talk about what this means for the Republic of Moldova. The fact that the Alliance for European Integration (AIE), having politically managed R. Moldova since 2009, has managed to resolve the issue of the election of the president is proof of this political alliance’s legitimacy and power. Not only has it managed to produce the necessary votes for the election of Nicolae Timofti, disabling all the moves of the opposition that was counting on that fissure in the Moldovan political system in extending the situation of instability, but AIE is also securing the consistency it needs to implement the programme it has been pursuing ever since its installation. This programme is clearly highlighted by the very name of this ruling alliance – European integration. A new president looking at a four-year term, supported by AIE can give cohesion to the efforts of the republic lying east of the River Prut for continuing its European journey at fast step and ensuring the country’s integration in the European Union. The meaning of this lasting consequence cannot escape to anyone and it is here where the main significance of the event in Chisinau could reside. Actually, the fact that the opposition has been striving to prevent it from happening and to bar the snap election is telling as to the unprecedented geopolitical importance the AIE ruling coalition gives to a president of the Republic of Moldova At a different level, the event showed the imperious need felt by both the Moldovan political community and regular citizens to have political stability and a clear future. The Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, Marian Lupu – acting head of state – was saying that ‘a big victory has been obtained, which ends the period of political unclearness and instability. Today is the starting point for R. Moldova’. Regarding the second level – the importance of this election for the EU – we need to stress both the fact that the victory in Chisinau is a genuine added value for a reborn dynamism of Brussels in the general neighbourhood policy, lost in the interminable financial crisis of sovereign debts, as well as the guarantee the EU obtains that the political investment made in Moldova in the last few years towards political stabilisation and consistence will pay off. European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fules point out in a joint statement that the EU will support democracy and deepening of reforms in R. Moldova while also facilitating the way bringing it closer to the EU as well as the fast and peaceful settlement of the Transdniester conflict. The things raised by the European officials are all the more important as it is known that Russia believes the EU action in the political space of the former USSR conflicts with its won interests. Moscow’s official reactions are still expected. For the time being, the media is taking a cautious approach, however without forgetting to note that Timofti’s election happened in the context of the fierce Communist opposition. Noting that Moldova finally has a president after 917 days, ‘The Moscow Times’ shows that his election was possible only thanks to the defection of three Communist MPs. The head of the Communist, Voronin, ‘angrily denounced <treachery> by the three defectors, who quit the party last November, and tens of thousands of Communists marched through the city centre, shouting <Down with the usurpers!> Police said 70,000 massed near the main government building, while the Communists put their number at 100,000.’ It is also noted that the election of the Moldovan president on Friday could expedite the resolution of the conflict in Transdniester, ‘a strip of land on Moldova’s eastern border controlled by pro-Moscow separatists for the past 20 years.’ A new elected leadership three months ago in the region ‘which has no international recognition as an independent territory’ could amplify ‘the prospects of a long-term settlement.’  On the other hand, a blog (Gazeta.Ru) quotes Timofti as stating that ‘Moldova should become a bridge between the West and East.’ So prudence and expectancy on the East azimuth. Which can only mean that Moscow is elaborating its response to the new developments in Moldova. And the continuity of the Russian military presence in Transdniester despite the international commitment to withdraw (1999), the fact that the authorities of this separatist region have the support of Russia are just some of the several arguments for the conclusion that Moscow sees a large-scale geopolitical challenge in the foreign orientation of R. Moldova. In Romania, the election of the new Moldovan president has been positively received, seen as an acceleration of the journey to Europe of the republic lying across the River Prut as well as of its internal reforms. The Romanian president immediately congratulated his Moldovan counterpart, emphasising his readiness to provide him with the support he would need during Chisinau’s European journey. Nicolae Timofti’s election as President of the Republic of Moldova sets the country onto a promising and rewarding, yet equally difficult track.

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