Moldova

  • The New Cold War Could Learn a Lot from the Old One

    Territories between great powers—borderlands—have always been areas of strife. So it is with the countries caught between Russia and the West, those that were once part of the Soviet Union or firmly within its sphere of influence. Much of Europe has consolidated and, with the United States, established a lasting liberal democratic order, but Russia has been increasingly pushing back. Though most of the “borderlands” countries are now West-facing, Moscow wants to control at least the national security policies of its near neighbors.

    The West should reject Moscow’s claim.

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  • Herbst Quoted in RFE/RL on Democracy in Moldova


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  • Democracy Is Under Major Attack in Moldova. Is Anyone Paying Attention?

    Last week a court in Moldova’s capital of Chișinău annulled the popular vote in local elections, which were won by pro-European opposition leader Andrei Năstase. The formal grounds for canceling the results are absurd; on election day the candidate urged people to vote on social media. This is no reason to block an elected official from taking office after the people have spoken.

    On June 25, the Supreme Court of Justice upheld the ruling and its decision is ”final.” Until yesterday, Moldova was the only country in the former Soviet Union (except for the Baltic states) where all transfers of power had taken place democratically without the abuse of laws or institutions. Sadly this record was broken.

    A long-awaited victory over a kleptocratic, nominally pro-European regime is being stolen from the people. The invalidation of the popular vote is just one step in an elaborate strategy to rob Moldovans of their fragile democracy.

    The current government lacks the legitimacy that can only be obtained in elections.

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  • Q&A: What’s Behind Moldova’s Massive Protests?

    Protesters are taking to the streets of Moldova’s capital of Chisinau again.

    On June 3, Andrei Nastase was elected mayor of Chisinau with 52.5% of the vote. Nastase, a pro-European prosecutor and anti-corruption activist, defeated Socialist Ion Ceban who favors closer ties to Moscow. On June 19, a Chisinau court struck down the election results, and the Moldovan Appeals Court upheld the decision on June 22. The case now rests with the Supreme Court of Justice.

    Nastase claims that the decision to cancel the results is politically motivated. He was one of the organizers behind Moldova’s large protests in 2015 after $1 billion vanished from the banking system.

    Why is an ostensibly pro-Western government in Moldova allowing a court to invalidate these election results? Are the court decisions politically motivated? Is this government really committed to democratic values? What does it mean for Moldova’s long-term prospects? We asked Atlantic Council experts and UkraineAlert contributors to weigh in.

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  • The United States Remains a Beacon for Moldova

    Ronald Reagan was fond of comparing the United States to “a shining ‘city on a hill.’”

    Today, some American friends tell me that phrase strikes them as shopworn or cliché. But for many in Eastern Europe who remain under Russian domination, it still rings true. The United States’ example of security through strength, democracy, free trade, prosperity, and civil liberties is a guiding light. And that is why my country, Moldova, is committed to an enduring partnership with the United States.

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  • Why the Bucharest Summit Still Matters Ten Years On

    A decade ago, I received a four word message from a close German acquaintance who had accompanied Chancellor Angela Merkel to the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, that was tasked to decide whether to provide Georgia and Ukraine with a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). It read: "Yes, but not now!" Having just seen a couple of episodes of World at War on the History Channel, I laconically and almost whimsically responded: "Fateful decision."

    Ukraine and Georgia didn’t get their MAP status in Bucharest, and were left with an open-ended—and some might say useless—promise of eventual membership.

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  • Russia Isn’t Just Interfering in Elections Around the World. It’s Doing Something Far Worse

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing in his hunt for dissidents abroad. In his determination, he has found some powerful allies within Western democracies—a practice that should alarm those who prize justice and the rule of law.

    In recent weeks, I’ve been collecting stories of Russian dissidents who say they fell victim to exchanges of confidential information between European officials and Russian authorities. The leak of one Cyprus prosecutor’s emails in November has exposed a growing trend: in its hunt to track critics, the Kremlin is recruiting allies within Western states’ law enforcement agencies.

    The communication leak on the part of Cyprus’ deputy attorney general exposes a much wider exchange of confidential EU information, some of it classified, with Russian authorities.

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  • In Kyiv and Chisinau, Citizens Thirsty for Reform But the Governments Aren't

    On December 1, the European Union withheld payment of €600 million to Ukraine for falling short on four reforms. The deal is conditional, and this final tranche is on hold until Ukraine follows through on its commitments.

    Meanwhile, one week before, at the Eastern Partnership Summit, the EU agreed to provide Moldova with €100 million in macro-financial assistance. Unfortunately, it’s all too possible that the Moldovan government will travel along the same road that Kyiv has, loudly broadcasting its intention to enact deep and comprehensive reforms while in reality avoiding any significant changes that could prove painful to entrenched stakeholders.

    After all, despite incentivizing positive actions, a government that is fundamentally unwilling to change will find a way to sabotage reforms while still receiving the funds. The process may be indefinitely prolonged through a variety of excuses that will drag reforms into a new electoral cycle, and then a new government has to start over.

    This process is currently occurring in Moldova.

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  • Which Will Be Europe’s Poorest Country? Ukraine or Moldova

    A year ago, I expressed my hope that “2017 should be the year when Ukraine’s economy takes off.” It should have been, but it was not. In the last quarter of 2016, Ukraine’s GDP grew by 4.8 percent. Alas, in each of the ensuing four quarters, the growth rate declined and GDP grew by only 2 percent in 2017, slightly less than the cautious official projections. Ukraine is actually growing more slowly than the EU economy, and certainly slower than the global economy. Therefore, it is difficult to be optimistic about Ukraine’s economic growth in 2018.

    After a combined GDP fall of 17 percent in 2014-15, which was caused by Russian aggression, a swift recovery to 6-7 percent growth should have been natural. Instead, Ukraine is competing with Moldova for the title of Europe’s poorest country. In 2007, Ukraine’s GDP per capita in current US dollars was 160 percent larger than Moldova’s. Now it is only 8 percent larger according to IMF statistics, and Moldova is growing by 4 percent a year.

    The worst part is that Ukraine’s economic shortcomings in 2017 were preventable.

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  • Does the EU Even Care about Eastern Europe Anymore?

    If you missed the European Union’s Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on November 24, you are not alone. It was a forgettable event, but it tells us quite a bit about the EU’s state of affairs in Eastern Europe.

    The proud start of the EU Eastern Partnership was the Prague summit in May 2009, instigated by Foreign Ministers Carl Bildt of Sweden and Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland. These heroes of East-West integration are out of office, and we feel their absence keenly.

    In 2009, the essence of the joint declaration between the six members of the Eastern Partnership, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, was “that the Eastern Partnership will be based on commitments to the principles of international law and to fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to, market economy, sustainable development, and good governance.” Today, little remains but threadbare slogans.

    The Eastern Partnership advanced until the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit in November 2013, as Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine negotiated association agreements, including deep and comprehensive free trade agreements. In Vilnius, Ukraine was supposed to sign its association agreement, but Russia’s President Vladimir Putin persuaded Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych not to do so. He had already done so with Armenia’s President Serzh Sargzian in September 2013. Only Georgia and Moldova held fast and signed their EU agreements.

    The next Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in May 2015 marked the decline. The fault did not lie with Latvia but with the EU’s lack of strategy.

    It is easy to ridicule this latest Eastern Partnership summit, and sadly there are good reasons for doing so.

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