Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The Foreign Policy of the Voronin Administration

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The Foreign Policy of the Voronin Administration

Article excerpt

Moldova, which declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, is a young and very poor state with few diplomatic resources and with little experience in foreign policy compared with Romania, for example. (1) Moldova is a small state, consisting of a population of about 4.3 million. (2) Moldova also is a multiethnic society) with a population that is approximately 65 percent Romanian extraction, with the remainder consisting of Russians (about 13 percent) and Ukrainians (about 14 percent), numbering approximately 650,000 of Ukraninians. (4) There also are approximately 150,000 Gagauz, a Turkic--Christian group of people who live in the southern part of the country and have managed to acquire a certain degree of political autonomy. Moldova, which no longer shares a border with Russia (separated from Russia by Ukraine), is located in the former Soviet West and shares close historic and cultural ties with Romania, underscoring the existence of a special or privileged relationship between the two states. Most of current-day Moldova, previously known as Bessarabia, was once part of historical Greater Romania. (5) As a small state, Moldova finds itself in a weak and vulnerable position in the post-cold war international system. Moldova faces the problem of trying to preserve its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity while undergoing a difficult transition to democracy and a market economy.

The victory of the Party of Moldovan Communists in 2001 marked a major change in the internal power structure of Moldova. The Communists gained control of a majority of seats in parliament in the elections of February 25, 2001. This occurred after parliament had been dissolved by President Petru Lucinschi, following the legislature's failure to elect a president on three separate occasions) On April 4, 2001, the single-chamber legislature elected the leader of the Moldovan Communist Party as president by a vote of seventy-one out of one hundred one. (7) The triumph of the Party of Moldovan Communists underscores the need to realize the importance of the relationship between the historical and cultural context of a country, especially the "legacies of the past" approach, and to understand the foreign policy behavior of the Voronin administration. The historical legacy or path dependency of a country's past has an important effect on the foreign policy behavior of a state, as argued by the realist school of thought known as neoclassical realism. In short, the foreign policy of a country clearly has domestic roots. (8) An example of the influence of path dependency on Moldora occurred at the Fourth Congress of the Party of Moldovan Communists in April 2002, when President Voronin talked about the "rebirth of socialism" and the historic mission of the Communist Party of Moldova, the only country in Europe that returned the Communists to power. (9) As a further example of the grip of the Communist legacy on Moldova. President Voronin also expressed his "great interest in the experience" of the Communist parties of China, North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam. (10) The return of the Communists to power in Moldora reflects the need to consider the importance of path dependency by previous rulers of the country, specifically by the Communists, to understand the nature and scope of Moldova's foreign policy. Voronin apparently believed that the collapse of Communism in Europe was only temporary and that the socialist system would be restored.

Realism and Moldovan Foreign Policy Concepts

Voronin's foreign policy also can be explained by classical realism and its variations, such as neoclassical realism and neorealism. Classical realism always has stressed the primary importance of the state as a rational, unitary actor, focusing on the pursuit of its foreign policy goals in the international system. The classical realist believes that the state is the most important actor in the international system; (11) however, classical realists have been criticized for not paying enough attention to the role of domestic factors to explain a state's foreign policy behavior. …

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