It’s Too Early To Applaud
The year 2020 is gone and the winter holidays are over as well. Groups of carolers, despite unnaturally warm winter weather, followed the tradition and did their duty: they went from door to door caroling and wishing people good health, abundance, rich fruits, a life full of love and happiness…
The Romanians are renowned for the remarkable traditions and rituals in celebrating winter holidays; the textual and emotional load of the carols is like that of the old prayers, born with the Nation and for the Nation. I wish we lived our lives in accordance with the texts of the carols and, as the years change, we changed for the better, each and every one of us.
2020 was a difficult year, a year full of challenges and lots of crises – in health, in economic, political, and social spheres. The summer drought impoverished Moldova even more, and the fluctuations on the currency market made the economy even more vulnerable to price increases. To make things worse, robbery and theft of the state continued, operating according to the same criminal schemes as before the presidency of Igor Dodon. For most Moldovans, 2020 has not been a year of change for the better.
For Moldova, the only good sign of the year 2020 is the political death of Igor Dodon, hopefully, the last exponent of our oligarchic regimes. After Maia Sandu’s inauguration, Dodon hastily returned to the position of president of the Socialist Party, a mere formality, because informally he never ceased to be its leader. The Socialist Party will not win the early parliamentary elections with Dodon, just as they did not win the presidential elections. Igor Dodon’s strategists should look back and see that Renato Usatii, who is preparing to take the Socialist Party seat in Parliament, is following in their footsteps.
We have started a new year with a new president, but with the same Parliament and anti-Maia Sandu Government, controlled by the former head of state, as well as the controversial Shor-Pro Moldova parliamentary platform and with the same legacy of neglect, left by Dodon.
2021 is the trial year for Maia Sandu. It will not be an easy year or an easy presidential term, given the fact that Maia Sandu wants to make Moldova a different state: a state for the people. It is clear that Maia Sandu is set to fight, not to surrender. And she is not alone in her intentions. It would be ideal to have a supportive Parliament and Government. But even in such conditions, Maia Sandu’s chances of moving forward remain high: she has the solidarity vote of the citizens, the support, already declared, of the strategic partners, and, if necessary, she will certainly have the support of the “Street Parliament” – a thing proven in the early 1990s liberation movement in Moldova.
Maia Sandu started her presidency term restoring relations with the neighbors, which Igor Dodon managed to damage the most in the last four years. On December 29, 2020, Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, came with an official visit to Chișinău. It was rather an amicable meeting given the fact that Romania is the Mother country of Moldova. As for relations with Ukraine, since independence, they have never been smooth and came to a standstill after 2016, when Igor Dodon declared Crimea “part of Russia”. On January 12, Maia Sandu went on her first external visit to Kyiv and met Volodymyr Zelenskyi. Two more meetings at Government and Parliament level followed. The two presidents stated, at a press conference, that they agreed to resume relations on a more advanced platform of strategic partnership in solving all the serious problems between Kyiv and Chișinău: patrimonial, energetic, commercial-economic, security, environmental, border and border regime issues.
For now, everything is at the level of intentions. There existed intentions during the time of other presidents too, except that Kyiv always underestimated Chișinău and, like Russia, tried to impose its interests. In 1992, Ukraine sided with Russia during the war on the Nistru River, Odessa being a recruitment center for volunteer brigades throughout Ukraine and Russia. From 1992 to 2014, the year when Russia occupied Crimea and Donbas, Kyiv played Moscow games in the formats of negotiations on the Transnistrian issue and always blackmailed Chișinău with its status as a mediator, demanding a “tribute”. And Chișinău paid. There have been several cessions: over 500 meters of coastline on the Danube in the southern port area of Giurgiulești, Etulia-Reni railway section, Palanca highway section, Novo-Dnestrovsk Hydropower Plant with adjacent territories, a number of island lands on the Nistru River, the Moldovan sanatorium in Odessa (an architectural gem) and other properties and land along the border.
The solemnities in Kyiv are over. I read several optimistic comments regarding President Maia Sandu’s visit. It’s good to be optimistic; however, Ukraine is not Romania. In cooperation with Ukraine we need to measure everything 10 times and start again from the beginning. Otherwise, Moldova risks failing, as Bucharest failed with the Basic Political Treaty (1997) with Ukraine. It’s too early, still, to applaud.
PS. A final question, not at all rhetorical: why the agenda of the visit did not include the issue of the Romanian communities in Ukraine, whether those from Bugeac or from Bukovina, assimilated through abusive policies, including by the current administration in Kyiv?