Moldovan PM and President clash over Eurasian Union rapprochement

Moscow-friendly president Igor Dodon. [Crime Moldova]

The Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip has sent an angry letter to the country’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, qualifying as “reckless” his request for observer status to the Moscow-led Eurasian Union and for the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with this organisation.

Dodon, who won an election in November against a pro-European opponent, seeks to scrap Moldova’s EU Association Agreement and replace it with an alliance with Moscow.  He has made it clear he will seek to prepare the paperwork for joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union while also aiming to improve conditions for trade with Europe.

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Moldova’s president said today (17 January) he hoped the ex-Soviet state’s Association Agreement with the European Union would be cancelled if his party obtains a parliamentary majority, paving the way for an alliance with Moscow.

Pro-European Prime Minister Pavel Filip yesterday (28 March) published his letter to Dodon, in which he reacted to a letter by the President dated 23 February. In this letter the president stated his intention to sign a Memorandum for Cooperation between Moldova and the Eurasian Economic Commission, as well as to request observer status with this organisation.

The Commission has previously stated that EU association, coupled with a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), is incompatible with participation to the Eurasian Union. Under former president Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine had explored such avenues.

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“In the perspective of the government, the signature of the Memorandum as well as the request of observer status with the Eurasian Economic Commission are unreasonable, given that they would bring our country no concrete economic or political dividends. On the contrary, I think those reckless steps could undermine social and political stability, which is already fragile, and will have far-reaching consequences,” the prime minister wrote.

Filip reminded the president that geopolitically, Moldova is anchored to the EU via the Association Agreement and more than 2,480 signed documents, including 450 treaties, among others a DCFTA.

He further wrote that no obstacles exist for the development of relations with the members of the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia).

The prime minister warned the President that if he were to continue his efforts at rapprochement with the Eurasian Union, the executive would not take part to any eventual meetings.

When Dodon assumed the presidential office late last year, many in the West feared that this would signify a shift towards Moscow and away from Brussels. He has since cast doubt on more NATO involvement.

Moldova balks at idea of closer NATO ties

Pro-Russian President of Moldova Igor Dodon yesterday (7 February) warned NATO that the closer ties it seeks with his strategically placed country could undermine its neutrality and threaten its security.