The Time of the Oligarch. Relations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova (2009-2018) 1

By Goşu, Armand | Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review, July 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Time of the Oligarch. Relations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova (2009-2018) 1


Goşu, Armand, Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review


Introduction

Between 2009 and 2013, the Republic of Moldova was perhaps one of the most important projects of Romania's foreign policy, with the aim of modernizing the neighboring state and bringing it closer to the European Union (EU). Initially this was seen with suspicion and mistrust, based on the assertion that the real aim was to restore the Greater Romania of the interwar period, when the territory of the former Soviet republic annexed by Stalin in 1940 was a part of the Kingdom of Romania. However, Bucharest managed to convince its partners that it can act in a constructive manner. A favorable international context and a reforming and proEuropean government in Chişinău made the Republic of Moldova a success story of the Eastern Partnership, which was launched in May 2009 at the EU summit in Prague. Moldova - in part thanks to Romania - has become a new favorite, but also consolation, for the West, disappointed with the evolution of the "orange revolution" in Kiev, and afflicted by "Ukraine fatigue".

Before 2009 as well, but especially after the pro-Europeans came to power in Chişinău, Romania promoted in the West, more or less efficiently, more or less intelligently, the Moldova case. At the same time, the situation in Moldova has degraded dramatically and Romania continued to deliver narratives about reforms and democratization, stories that were accepted for a while, with no critical spirit, by the other governments. When it became evident that the political, economic and social situations are deeply degraded, and that the stories delivered by Romanian diplomacy had no real basis, a closer monitoring and conditioning of financial help and loans started.

The invalidation of the elections for the mayor of Chişinău, won on the 3 rd of June 2018 by Andrei Năstase, one of the leaders of the anti-oligarchic and proEuropean opposition, was a turning moment in the relations between European institutions and the Republic of Moldova. The European Parliament and the European Commission, the European External Action Service, have reacted in unison, not just by criticizing Chişinău, but also suspending loan payments. The only one that didn't react was Romania, who, with this gesture, suggests that it continues to support the oligarchic regime installed in the Republic of Moldova.

This article analyzes the evolution of the relations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova over the last decade (2009-2018), trying to decipher the underpinnings of the change in the paradigm of Romanian diplomacy along this period. We also examine the way in which Romania has reacted to Moldova's side skids and try to make sense of the extent to which the government in Bucharest may be considered responsible for the transformation of Moldova from the success story of the Eastern Partnership into a captive state, as it is considered today2. This article provides an initial narrative regarding the relationship between Romania and the Republic of Moldova in the period between "the Twitter revolution" and the summer of 2018, the moment when there was a dramatic cooling of relations between the EU, the United States (US), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, on the one hand, and Moldova on the other.

The Theoretical Framework And The Context Of The Relationship

In what concerns the theoretical framework of the study, the first important element concerns the European Union as a "normative power". I argue the normative action of the EU, joined by Romania in 2007, failed by consolidating in the Republic of Moldova a "patronalist" type of regime, as defined by Henry Hale3. The second consideration refers to the approach taken by the Bucharest government in its bilateral relation with Chişinău, within the limits of a hybrid theoretical construction in regard to regional security, from a realistic perspective combined with a historicist perspective, which is a guiding line in the Romanian approach of the last few decades. …

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