23 Apr 2009

Moldova’s “wannabe democracy” is worth rescuing

Elena Gnedina / George Dura

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The consequences of the post-electoral impasse in which Moldova finds itself after the parliamentary elections on 5 April 2009 are immense for the EU’s relations with Moldova and for the success of its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership (EaP). Despite many problems, Moldova is considered one of the ‘frontrunners’ as regards ENP implementation and is poised to negotiate an Association Agreement and a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement in the coming months. Yet the violent protests that rocked the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, on 7 April 2009, and the authorities’ subsequent violent arrests and beatings of protesters, journalists and opposition figures, may have negative repercussions on Moldova’s European integration efforts. The reversal in Moldova’s transition to a Western-style democracy may accelerate, failing a resolute response by the EU. This policy brief argues that first, the EU should put pressure on Moldova to stop its crackdown and investigate human rights violations, and second, the EU should make an attractive offer of increased cooperation and assistance if Moldovan authorities seek an agreement with the opposition and show progress in implementing democratic reforms. Failing this, the EU may witness yet another undoing of democratic reforms by one of its Eastern neighbours.