In December 2011, Director of Moldovan Institute of Public Affairs, Arcadie Barbarosie, said that the process of Moldova’s integration into the EU takes place outside Moldovan society and thus becomes an action “outside reality”. “I sometimes have this feeling that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is somewhere far on the horizon, near the European Union, followed by our government and political elites. But Moldovan society is left out,” explained Barbarosie during the seminar at Stefan Batory Foundation.
A similar phenomenon was discussed by Moldovan analyst and feature writer Igor Botan, director of Association for Participatory Democracy in Chisinau in his interview for New Eastern Europe. “Moldovan ‘success story’ is an illusion created by the government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union. … Moldova was to be a model that could be presented to Belarus, Ukraine and the South Caucasus. Unfortunately, for the last few dozen months ‘success story’ has been a myth only”.
Martin Sieg, Foreign Policy Advisor to the German Bundestag, states that “Germany’s confidence is wearing thin. Reforms should be introduced, regardless of the understandable major internal problems of the government and the political crisis of the country. German elites are growing irritated and impatient. Our involvement in Moldova is to a large extent based on goodwill and values and not on German interests in this region. It must be remembered that while the interests are a stable thing, the spirit of goodwill may come to an end.
So much for the experts and what about society? The study of Moldovan Institute of Public Affairs indicates that Moldovan society is more and more sceptical of integration into the EU. In November 2011, only 46 percent of respondents declared that in the accession referendum they would be in favour of joining the EU. This has been the worst result since 2003, when the Institute started its research. It should be mentioned, however, that a few months before, in May 2011, almost 65 percent of respondents were in favour of the integration into the EU. We cannot be sure, then, whether this change is passing or stable. Curiously enough, Moldova is ruled by the pro-European government supported by the EU and member states, and the faith of Moldovans in the integration is still decreasing.
Because of all this, Moldova is more and more frequently compared to Ukraine after the Orange Revolution. Instead of the “success story”, we hear of unused potential and lost chances. The capital of international trust, won by Moldova on the wave of Twitter revolution of 2009, and appointing pro-European government after years of the rule of the Party of Communists, was in large measure wasted. The expectations were much higher, even inside Moldovan society, and this can be the explanation of the drop in support for integration into the EU. Undoubtedly, Moldovan political elites are those who bear the blame for this state of affairs. The elites’ condition is illustrated best with 2.5 years of unsuccessful attempts at choosing the head of state.
We are now dealing with a more realistic assessment of Moldovan reality. Those who had dampened the emotions from the very beginning turned out to be right. Today, enthusiasm for Moldova’s integration into the EU is weaker than a few months ago. But maybe these are good conditions for thorough changes. For it is not only about the integration but about the change of the country, society and economy’s philosophy of functioning. It requires time and work. There is, however, great danger that the EU and the member states disappointed with Moldovan failed “success story” will once again forget about the country on the Dniester River. And Moldova will completely disappear from the horizon of European foreign policy. That is why it is so important to constantly remind of Moldova, look for particular, even small, changes and integrate step by step, getting ready for a long march.
Translated by Marta Lityńska