Send to friend | Print

EU bids to counter Moldova communist comeback

The Polish and Swedish foreign ministers were in Chisinau yesterday (8 December) in a bid to prevent a party from Moldova's pro-European ranks from changing camps to form a government with the country's pro-Russia Communist Party. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and his Swedish colleague Carl Bildt visited Chisinau and held talks with the leaders of all political players, a Polish diplomat from Sikorski's entourage told EurActiv.

"Two European foreign ministers visited a country which until recently was a very promising one in terms of being a member of the Eastern Partnership, and where reforms had been implemented very eagerly in the last year," the diplomat said.

He stressed that the EU's message was "very simple": the visit was not about interfering in Moldova's internal affairs, but Brussels wanted the new government to be pro-European one and to continue to make pro-European reforms in the country.

The wording and the past tense used appears to indicate that Brussels fears that Moldova may change orientation. According to press reports, President Vladimir Voronin and Marian Lupu, head of the centre-left Democratic Party, are in talks to forge a coalition to oust the pro-European parties from power.

Voronin is leader of the Communist Party and long-serving president of Moldova (see 'Background').

Former communist Lupu, 44, established his own opposition party, the Democratic Party, which became part of the pro-European alliance put together in August 2009.

A scenario in which the Democratic Party changes camp would not be a surprise, with Russia having indicated that Lupu is their preferred politician and 'kingmaker'.

According to sources cited by DPA, a possible agreement between Lupu's party and the communists would give the presidential office to Lupu, while the powerful parliament speaker job would go to Voronin.

Other government offices will reportedly be shared between the two parties, with Communist nominees receiving 70% of appointments and the Democrats 30%.

Voronin's Communists are expected to control 42 seats in the 101-seat parliament, and Lupu's Democrats 15 seats. This, however, is short of the minimum 61-seat majority required for the election of a president, according to the country's constitution.

Moldova's two largest pro-Europe parties, the Liberals and the Liberal Democrats, are expected to remain in opposition with a total of 44 seats between them.

Europe losing Moldova?

A EU diplomat in Chisinau who asked not to be named told EurActiv that Lupu would "probably" prefer to stay within the pro-European alliance, but the promises made to him by the communists had been "very tempting".

Lupu was also lobbied by top Russian officials, who visited Chisinau over the weekend. Unlike the EU envoys, however, they did not consult all sides, instead only meeting Voronin and Lupu.

"Lupu is now bargaining to get the same number of posts in a new pro-European government as he would if he strikes a deal with the communists," the diplomat said.

The diplomat admitted that nothing was certain and that no-one could guarantee that Europe would not "lose Moldova" to Russia in much the same way as its biggest neighbour Ukraine, whose leadership is also seen as pro-Russian.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek is due to visit Moldova on Friday (10 December).

Buzek's spokesperson Inga Rosińska told EurActiv that if the Parliament president had decided to go to Chisinau at this particular moment, it meant that the time was right for such a visit.

Heavy-handed diplomacy

The visit of Sikorski and Bildt to Chisinau appears to indicate that Brussels would see Bucharest, the "natural ally" of Moldova, take the back seat for a while. EU diplomats said they regretted the recent statements by Romanian President Traian Basescu, who reportedly said that Moldova may become part of Romania again in the next 25 years.

"European Union borders will extend to the Dnestr River, and the democratic development in the region will be an incentive for other countries, such as Ukraine, to join the EU," Basescu was quoted as saying.

The statement prompted Moldova's acting president, Vlad Filat, to react. "Moldova is an independent country and will remain so in future," Filat said.




Comments (0)