Moldova has been the subject of much discussion in recent weeks, as speculation about its EU future has increased in tandem with the country’s governmental crackdown on corruption. Analysts have argued that recent struggles in the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), which was designed to lead the country towards European Union accession, may signal the demise of Moldova’s EU aspirations. Moldovan Ambassador to Estonia Victor Guzun, in an exclusive interview with Eastbook.eu on 19 February in Tallinn, was quick to allay such concerns, and to emphasise that Moldova’s future with the EU would not be so easily swayed…
“In relation to the so-called ‘crisis’, some discussions and debates between politicians exists in every country — this does not affect the direction of our development — we have to fulfil our duties under the first and only priority: European integration”, Victor Guzun said of the current corruption investigations happening in his homeland. He impressed that cooperation with the EU is about more than implementing a series of reforms and treaties, it is also about individuals, saying:
“European integration of the Republic of Moldova does not have alternative . This process consists not only in agreements and acts between Republic of Moldova and the EU, it is a change of everything and everyone, not just politicians, but every single person in my country. Everybody has to make a small European integration for themselves! This will ensure that our path to integration is shorter. We are working every single day to keep speed, to implement reforms, and the people have to feel the change that happens now”.
As Ambassador of Moldova to Estonia, Mr Guzun drew parallels between the two small post-Soviet nations-explaining that they share many common elements, such as population, geographical size and history, which help the citizens of both nations to understand one another. Mr Guzun pointed out that such comparability made Estonia a good model for Moldova and its process of EU integration:
“Between our countries there are many similarities…not only in history but in future — how we have to develop our countries. We have found the same direction — it’s very clear and it’s called European integration. Estonia for us is a very important country — Estonia integrated with a small number of people, time and resources. Estonia is so successful in this regard. Moldova must do what Estonia did, take the same steps — everything is set for democracy and reforms, we just have to follow the measures. There is so much interest between our countries in supporting one another.”
The Ambassador also addressed the issue of Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova which borders Ukraine and currently remains unrecognized by any country. Transnistria is one of four remaining post-Soviet “frozen conflict” zones, and has been dogged by an on-going war and ethnic conflict with Moldova since 1992. On the matter of Transnistria, Mr Guzun has what he feels to be “a personal approach”, having studied at the University in Tiraspol, the administrative capital of the region, and experienced the life and citizens first hand:
“I know that the people in eastern part of Nistru river would like to see the real results of cooperation and forget what has unfortunately happened in 1992. When you talk with people, you see that they would like to cooperate more. This is not a conflict between the people but an artificial problem created by separatists. We should have a simple approach, we have to make all our issues useful and predictable for citizens on both banks of the river. Open bridges so they can communicate and travel, exchange goods, make calls, participate together in cultural events, have access to better health care, and have a better possibility to go to schools — just simple and necessary issues”.
A conflict resolution plan, known as the “5+2” format, has been proposed, and would entail a direct mediation of the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria by Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE, the European Union and United States. Speaking about relations with Russia, the Ambassador explained:
“With Russia we must have friendly relations, the same as with everyone, including our closer neighbours. We would like to have clear, predictable relations with all countries—not just one above another one. We expect Russia to cooperate in 5+2 negotiation format — we expect everyone to understand that only all together we will win”.
In reference to the Russian military presence in Moldova, Mr Guzun made Moldova’s stance clear:
“We are a neutral country and we are not giving any country consent to have their army on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Russian soldiers and ammunition should be evacuated from our country immediately, according with OSCE Summit Declaration of Istanbul (1999). This presence is not helping us solve the problem. We have support of international community, and we expect more cooperation with Russian Federation on this issue”.
When asked what message he would like to send to the world about Moldova, the Ambassador said:
“Moldova is a beautiful country, with amazing people and hospitality, which should be one of your compulsory travel destinations. Come to my homeland, invite your friends and tell to others about one of the future members of European family”.
Interview courtesy of Ambassador Victor Guzun.
You can follow the Ambassador on Twitter.