26th Aug 2019

Russian gas battles EU free trade for future of Moldova

  • Russian gas politics strike again in Moldova as the Communists strive to come back to power (Photo: eastpole)

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has told EUobserver that the prospect of an EU free trade pact is better for the future of Moldova than cheap Russian gas as neighbouring powers seek to build influence in post-election Moldova.

"We did not offer any gas, Sweden is very bad at that. So is Poland, by the way," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt told EUobserver on the margins of an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday (13 December) after visiting Chisinau with his Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski, last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We took note that the head of the Russian presidential administration was there a couple of days before [us]. That was information that was difficult to avoid taking note of," he added. "What there is on the European agenda for Moldova is the association agreement. If you look at what the Moldovan economy needs, it is deep and comprehensive free trade with the EU. That is what can over time lead to a better development of what is today the poorest country in Europe. I'm not saying that cheap gas is bad, but economies and prosperity can't be built on cheap gas."

The EU and the Russian missions to Moldova come after elections on 28 November failed to give either the pro-EU camp or the pro-Russian Communist party enough mandates for a 'presidential majority' - a parliamentary majority that can elect the country's head of state, ending a year-long political stalemate in the country.

The pro-EU side - the Liberal Democrats of the Prime Minister Vlad Filat, the Liberal Party of acting president Mihai Ghimpu and the Democratic Party of Marian Lupu, a former Communist who switched sides following the brutal crackdown on protesters ordered by the ruling Communists in April 2009 - scooped the overall majority but fell just two seats short of the presidential one.

Earlier this month, Sergey Nariskin, the chief of staff of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, travelled to Chisinau and held talks with all party leaders except Mr Filat. According to Economic Review, a Russian-speaking Moldovan newspaper, the Russian envoy offered cheaper gas and a resumption of Moldovan wine imports if the politicians cobbled together a Moscow-friendly coalition centred on the Communist party.

For his part Mr Bildt warned that a Communist comeback "would mean that there would be a slowing down of the pace of reforms necessary from their side. We would remain committed to supporting Moldova, needless to say, but I think it's a safe prediction to say that the pace of reforms would slow down."

Romanian foreign minister Theodor Baconschi also told journalists in Brussels on Monday that all 27 EU states are willing to give the pro-EU camp in Moldova their support.

"We observed sympathy and spontaneous consensus among member states for the need to remake the pro-EU alliance in Moldova capable of continuing reforms," he said, adding that Moldova's pro-European track is a "test case" for the EU's neighbourhood policy.

The EU is getting used to Russian gas politics, which have in the past impacted developments in Belarus and Ukraine. "There is little we can actually do, it is up to the Moldovan parties to stand firm to this kind of bullying," one EU diplomat told this website.

A leaked US cable indicates that the pro-Russian side has other tricks up its sleeve as well.

According to a US cable sent on 8 September 2009 by the US mission in Chisinau and published in The Guardian and Le Monde, Mr Lupu, the kingmaker, was offered $10 million by the Communists to switch sides again and to derail the "Alliance for European Integration."

The US cable reports that Communist leader Vladimir Voronin first offered him a cool $5 million: "[Mr] Lupu said he stated that he was not interested. According to [Mr] Lupu, [Mr] Voronin then doubled the offer to USD ten million, which he also turned down." The cable adds: "Though we have often heard stories of bribery and influence peddling within the GOM [Government of Moldova], [Mr] Lupu's claim that [Mr] Voronin offered him USD ten million to cut a power-sharing deal is the most brazen tale to date."

Both Mr Lupu and Mr Voronin have denied the information.

EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit

The focus at the G7 summit will most likely narrow down to the global economy and foreign affairs, but the EU is also set to make a number of pledges on transparency and fighting diseases.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".


Pentagon: ISIS is resurgent in Syria

The US department of defence warns that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is working on a come back in Syria. It is regrouping and supporting activities. This might trigger a new refugee displacement to Europe.


Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Western leaders disagree on Russia, Iran, and Brazil
  2. Belgium: Parties clash on Reynders as EU commissioner
  3. Spain heading for yet another general election
  4. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  5. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  6. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  7. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  8. EU considers new rules on facial recognition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us