On February 24, Moldovans vote in parliamentary elections, which are seen by many as critical to the country’s future. The ruling Democratic party and its de facto leader have been accused of abuse of power and facilitating corruption. The EU has suspended its financial assistance program. The party faces a challenge from the Socialist Party led by President Igor Dodon, who is more sympathetic to Russia, and a new pro-European bloc named NOW.
Moldova’s parliamentary election may deliver a messy coalition, a Socialist government, or an attempt at manipulation. Brussels should put the legitimacy of the process ahead of the result.
A multitude of challenges confront the EU in 2019. How European leaders address these developments over the course of the next year will have far-reaching consequences.
The international order has never been tidy or complete, always having lands with contested sovereignty. Yet the breakdown of empires is the most common catalyst for producing new aspirant states.
A mood of realism around the Transdniestria conflict, supported by Russia, is leading to areas of de facto integration. The Moldovan government is cautious, but this is an opportunity for more international engagement.
The Kremlin is relying on a highly adaptable toolkit to chip away at the liberal international order and to capitalize on the West’s inability to come up with a unified strategy to respond.
Europe’s commitment to the Eastern Partnership region has been cemented by Russian aggression. Yet, for internal reasons, the EU is trying to avoid the costs linked to the countries’ integration.
EU association deals with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have proven to be key drivers of reform in all three countries. The emphasis should now be on implementation, not simply legislative adoption.
NATO and the EU are failing to address the fundamental weaknesses of their policies toward Eastern Europe.
With Russia pursuing integrationist schemes and the EU seeking to sustain its engagement in Eastern Europe, Moldova’s tangle of history, economic ties, and domestic politics presents a unique challenge.