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The former Soviet Union State of Moldova is holding an election next weekend and will vote to make a decision about if it will continue down the road to European integration, opposing Russia and risking war like Ukraine is. Moldova is being watchful of the happenings between Russia and Ukraine since their former Soviet sibling may show them what to expect by defying the Russian wishes.
Moldova is one of the smallest countries in eastern Europe and one of the poorest. The country, located on the western edge of what use to be the Soviet Union, has made large strides towards integration into the West and separating themselves from the Russian way more than any other ex-Soviet states.
The parliamentary election will take place on November 30 and as it gets closer, polls showing the opinion of Moldova’s citizens appear divided on if they should remain loyal to Russia or continue moving towards inclusion with the European Union (EU) nations. The decision is not a simple one, and one that has already hurt the country and its people.
Moving towards inclusion in the EU, the three-party group that comprises the Alliance for European Integration that formed in 2009 has earned the landlocked country a ban on imports of wines, meats and vegetables from Russia. This has affected the 3.5 million people living in Moldova, which is bordered by Romania, a member of the EU, and Ukraine.
The opposition to the Alliance for European Integration has faced criticism with their rivalry amongst leaders and a bad record against corruption among leaders. The group also holds the days of the Soviet Union and the stability that the communism brought to the country. Moldova’s leaders do believe that the country will be able to maintain a path to a pro-European state.
Reuters interviewed Iurie Leanca, the Prime Minister of Moldova, and he indicated there was no visible move away from the pro-European course and indicated that he though that Russian relations with Moldova would get better. A new contract with a Russian gas supplier is being viewed as a positive that the Prime Minister hopes will also return the foods banned by Russia. Being in a similar situation, Moldova has closely watched Ukraine as they have also fought sanctions, but on a different level.
If the Alliance for European Integration backed parties can win enough votes in the election to retake a majority of the 101-seat parliament or end up unto a coalition with the communists party, analysts believe the course Moldova is on for Europe will continue. However, a strong turnout by the socialist party, who would rather join the Customs Union led by Russia, would complicate the EU drive by Moldova.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Moldova socialist leader recently. The socialists indicate that the pro-EU course that Moldova is taking will cut the country off from Russia, who they view as a stable and powerful ally in Russia. The socialist believe that the benefit of cheap gas provided by Russia will help sway Moldova away from Europe.
Moldova does not appear to be as important to Russia as Ukraine is, and there is reason behind this. The borders of Moldova are 500 miles away from Russia, and Moldova’s leaders have not expressed any interest in joining NATO.
With Ukraine being their own country, and are fighting a more intense battle to separate from Russia, Moldova is still keeping a watchful eye on their sister state and their struggle for freedom as they attempt to move further away from Putin and closer to the EU. The vote on November 30 will be a decisive one for the small country, either way it goes. If the vote to continue the path towards Europe, Moldova does not have the same defense forces to take on the Russian military if the need would arise.
By Carl Auer