25 September 2018

MAIN POLITICAL AND MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS - WEEK 38

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

I. THE EUROPEAN UNION. The Informal EU Summit in Salzburg. II. THE UNITED STATES - POLAND. Request for a US Military Base in Poland; the Three Seas Conference. III. RUSSIA. Domestic Problems Are More and More Visible. Abroad, Moscow’s Actions Are Less Aggressive… for the Moment. IV. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Vladimir Plahotniuc’s Party Is No Longer Pro-European, Discovering that It Is “Pro-Moldovan”.

Image source: Mediafax

I). THE EUROPEAN UNION. The informal EU Summit in Salzburg (September 19th-20th) offered no answer to any of the issues in discussion – Brexit and migration. However, road maps for both issues begin to surface. 

The Brexit issue was the main topic of the informal Summit, as migration got less attention, probably for two reasons: first, each EU member state fights its own battle, not so much with present incoming migrants (the numbers dwindled under 100 000 a year), but with the aftermath of the previous wave. This is another proof that the EU reacts to problems, and does not act preventively.

The European leaders rejected bluntly the proposals brought forth by the British Prime-Minister, Teresa May, i.e. the Chequers plan, sugarcoated with more or less diplomatic messages. Nevertheless, another summit, especially dedicated to the Brexit, was announced for November. This means that, in October, a final agreement has to be reached, and Teresa May’s Chequers plan will not be the basis of that agreement.

The Chequers plan’s basic idea was a one-off bargain where the EU would have accepted free circulation of goods between Britain and EU, but not free circulation of services. Such arrangement would include no yield from the UK in any other European liberties after leaving the EU, including free circulation of labor. This cunning plan aimed at obtaining concessions regarding the EU free market, by linking it with another novel solution regarding the second important issue, the Irish border. Anyway, this second issue is unlikely to be solved entirely.

The rejection was based on principles: the UK cannot cherry-pick the liberties and the obligations it likes. Teresa May’s argument, that the Chequers plan is the only way to avoid a rough Brexit, without any agreement, is baseless: either Britain accepts all liberties and stays put within the EU, or it leaves the Union completely. Hence, the French position, in support of a new referendum in the UK, albeit pro-domo and rough, better reflects the reality[i].

Teresa May’s major political difficulties to gain support for the plan in Britain, both in her party and in the Parliament, found no simpathy among the EU leaders, who interpreted that the Chequers plan is weak indeed. However, there are models of cooperation agreements between the EU and other nations, either like Norway and Switzerland, who accept all liberties, or like Canada, who agreed only an “almost free” trade arrangement. In addition, the Irish border issue cannot be solved by unrealistic engineering.

On the other hand, Teresa May has a point: London cannot accept an open border in Ireland, and build an internal border in the UK. Also, a second referendum in Britain cannot be requested by France, no matter what populist games were used in Britain to win the first. So, as Teresa May demanded, respect is needed, but... both ways: neither the EU member states should rule upon London, nor should London force an unbalanced agreement with the EU, just for the sake of the UK. Although they accuse the Europeans, the Brits are the ones who ought to rediscover what fair play means.

The general position taken by the European leaders was rather optimistic, as they prefer to wait for the results of the Conservatory Party conference. At that meeting, Teresa May, having the Chequers plan rejected, will face her opponents, who reject any compromise with Brussels, which would lead to a rough Brexit, now called Blind Brexit. For now though, the Europeans rejected the British plan (a solution will be found, but not based on the Chequers plan), but they also warned London (we prepare for the situation with no agreement – Blind Brexit). The Europeans’ vision is that Teresa May should first find a solution within her own party, and in the British Parliament to support her in the divorce to follow. Before that happens, she is not considered a credible negotiation partner.

Prime-Minister Teresa May’s reaction was emotional, as she accused the Europeans of lack of respect. Then, she focused on the British political stage: she either wins the Tory conference, or her stance ... wil not be Britain’s stance any more. She already sent the signal that early general elections in UK are not ruled out. However, more realistic messages were issued as well: a Brexit agreement similar to Canada’s agreement with the EU might be acceptable. 

Eventually, in a game of competition versus cooperation, the solution will be found at the minimal level of compromise: that is (in absence of cooperation, the most likely and the most painful), the Blind Brexit. However, since this would hit both parties, but mostly the UK, a compromise at a higher level is possible, like an agreement similar to EU – Canada agreement. Hitherto, the Blind Brexit was used for blackmail, especially by London. From now on though, the situation became too urgent to use such negotiation tactics. Nevertheless, after Salzburg, the Blind Brexit sadly becomes a probable solution.

During the Salzburg Summit, migration stepped down to the second tier of interest, not for losing gravity, but for losing urgency. The begining of coperation with Egypt is remarkable, as the EU is forced to work with an autoritarian regime in order to find a solution to illegal migration. The credit goes, most likely, to Germany. This is the way to a solution: limiting migration, by cooperating with the transit countries and with countries of origin. Having his own problems[ii], Viktor Orbán chose to enter by the back door and kept silence on his radical solutions regarding migration, although he could not refrain from offering some suggestions. The Italian populists have also been more discrete, as in Rome the budget is about to be sent to the Parliament, and their own minister of economy opposes measures which raise the budgetary deficit above the 3% limit accepted in the EU.

For Romania, the situation looks bad either way, because the politico-economic issue of the Brexit is hard to split from the security problem. In present circumstances, Romania must be solidary with the other EU member states, to defend the interests of the Union, if not even its future, by deterring the oportunistics who would blackmail it with the option of leaving the EU as well. In the same time, the UK is an important NATO ally for Romania, its pilots recently operated to protect our air space. But Romania has to follow the principles: the EU liberties are to be accepted in full or not at all. Additionally, Romania has bahaved.. even when it should better have defended its interests instead, and it has its own domestic issues. However, Romania sees itself in the role of lightning arrester for Hungary, a role forced by Hungary’s European friends, who would not admit that, under V. Orbán’s leadership, this country indeed represents a problem for the EU.

II) THE UNITED STATES - POLAND. Warsaw’s Request for a US Military Base in Poland Has Not Received an Answer Yet, but Is Seriously Considered by the US. Additionally, the Three Seas Conference.   

As expected, the main goal of the visit paid by the Polish President, Andrzej Duda, to Washington, on September 18th, was the consolidation of the bilateral military and economic relations, especially regarding the military equipment. The US President, Donald Trump, announced that Washington is looking into the Polish request for a standing American military base in Poland, acknowledging Warsaw’s concern regarding a possible aggression by Russia: Russia ”acted aggressively” in the region. President A. Duda mentioned the Russian military threat as a reason for his request, and proposed that Poland would pay more than two billion dollars for supporting this project. He even suggested naming this future base… “Fort Trump”.

Moscow had reacted since May, when first information on the matter surfaced. The Kremlin stated that the extension of NATO military infrastructure closer to Russian borders undermines Europe’s stability, but it forgot to tell that the very illegal modification of its borders towards the West caused the reaction of the frontline NATO nations, which asked for support and for a limited extension of NATO infrastructure towards the East. Presently, the US deploys a limited contingent of troops in locations in Eastern Europe, by rotation, in the framework of NATO measures aimed at securing the allies in the East about Washington’s commitment against any Russian threat.

The US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, declared that Washington would discuss with Warsaw the possible options. However, he warned that “it’s not just about a base. It’s about training ranges, it’s about maintenance facilities at the base, all these kinds of things. There’s a host of details we’ve got to study alongside the Poles”. Based on purely military arguments, he actually transmitted the signal that a political decision has not yet been taken in Washington. Most likely, this would depend mainly on Russia’s actions, but also on Washington’s military policy: should the Pentagon slow down the construction of the anti-ballistic system in Poland, it might compensate with this proposed military base.

Anyway, the US will not attempt to further complicate the situation with no use, by deploying one or more advanced brigades in Poland, if Russia does not “impose” that by continuing its aggressive policy, maybe not directly against Poland, but rather against Ukraine. Additionally, the multiplying divisions deployed along the Eastern borders of NATO are easy to count, but the fastest growth rate is showed by the troops within the Military Region South / Strategic Unified Command South, the forces deployed in Crimea and along Ukraine’s eastern border. The concern about the Polish and Baltic allies is understandable, but the golden rule of Russia’s aggression is not difficult to identify: the wars have been triggered in the South, where the targets are vulnerable: Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova. It is true: the Republic of Belarus reached the point where V. Putin might consider its annexation. However, Moscow has yet a “big business” to conclude in Ukraine first.

In Washington, the two presidents also discussed the issue of Nord Stream 2, and they underlined that this pipeline would make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas. The rationale is valid, but it is counterbalanced by an equally valid opposite argument: the US opposes Nord Stream 2 not for security reasons (it is Ukraine which is threatened, both financially and on security), but for non-valid economic considerations: the American LNG is still more expensive than the Russian gas delivered through Nord Stream 2. Most likely, Germany felt relieved after Donald Trump declared that the US would not sanction the companies participating in this project.

The US President’s regret is not convincing either: “We just think it’s very unfortunate for the people of Germany that Germany is paying billions and billions of dollars a year for their energy to Russia”. Beyond the fact that Russia abused its position as main supplier (imposing high prices not so much to Germany, but to Poland and Bulgaria), the argument is wrong: the Europeans must be worried not about a prosperous Russia, albeit with the money the Europeans pay for gas, but about an aggressive Russia, which cannot be confortable at home unless it invades countries of the former Soviet space. It is also true that the German conter-argument is wrong too: a better economic cooperation with Russia will not temper it, because the western tolerance is perceived by the Kremlin as an encouragement for its aggressive policy. 

Poland is already a regional power[iii] from all points of view, and is working maybe too hard for its security against the Russian threat. Poland already has a strong military, it obtained the standing deployment of NATO troops on its territory (which is a guarantee that a potential aggressor would confront NATO in the same time, not just Poland), and it has consistent deterrence means. Clearly, the threat of Russian military aggression should not be neglected, being dangerous both by the way it works – the Hybrid Warfare, and by the way it makes peace, ”the clicket strategy”: once Russia gets hold on a country or a region, it cannot be removed from there, because it threatens with escalation towards .. the nuclear war, its main military argument. On the other hand, the rule of realism in international relations stands valid: the increase in Poland’s security will lead to a consolidation of Russia’s military disposition. In that respect, the Vostok 2018 strategic exercise was given a huge dimension precisely to prove that Russia.. would go forth, at any economic cost.

The presence of American troops in Poland would rule out any doubt that Poland is not alone in the face of the Russian aggression. Seizing the mercantile policy of Trump Administration, Poland offers to contribute to the costs of US troops deployment on its territory. The South-Korean and German model lessons are clear for the Poles, and, sooner or later, Warsaw will get what it wants.

On this background, knowing that Poland is the originator and the regional power which gives substance to the Three Seas initiative, let’s have a look at the Three Seas Conference, held in Bucharest. In essence, being too heterogeneous to secure outstanding results, the initiative is based on three security and economic questions: 1) How to counter Russia’s military threat, but also our energy dependence from this country? 2) How to attract the US to help us with military and economy, and also consolidate our position in NATO? 3) How to attract investments, but also Germany’s political interest, which could make our economy stronger and could better anchor us within the EU? Who does not think about these questions risks to… get his plane broken, as it happened to the Hungarian president. His absence was not a big loss for the Conference though, while the presence of the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, and of the US representative Rick Perry provided the necessary substance to the event.

Poland is a role model for Romania, which does not yet fulfill the necessary prerequisites of a regional power, as it continuously loses resources, and lacks the capacity to generate and project economic, political, and military power. The only arguments we possess are our potential and our stability, with no problems caused in the region. The way Romania will know to use its gas in the Black Sea (why wouldn’t we revitalize the petro-chemical industry?), as well as the way we will transform the 2% of the GDP defense budget into a strong military, able to deter an aggressor, will show whether Romania can reach the desired level of development and relevance.

Maybe the heralded projects stand a chance, as long as the EU / Germany and the US would support them, although the necessary condition is that the elites in the participating countries… really think about implementing the projects! Anyway, the Three Seas initiative has a future only if Romania finds its way towards a normal development, and if Ukraine joins too, should it survive the Russian aggression and vigorously follows a Euro-Atlantic path. This is the new Intermarium: Poland – Ukraine – Romania, joined by the Baltic States and Croatia, plus, only circumstantial, other nations in Central Europe and the Balkans. Let’s hope that both hypotheses will work, as the preconditions are there. In the unhappy situation where the two hypotheses fail, we will see a retraction towards Central Europe, from Poland to Croatia, with Romania as the loser. Then, Romania would reach these projects only through Hungary (which will facilitate our participation the same as it did within the Visegrad group!).

III) RUSSIA. Domestic Problems Are More and More Visible. Abroad, Moscow’s Actions Are Less Aggressive… for the Moment.

At home, economic problems started to pile up, and they have social impact and political effects, even in a dictatorial state as Russia. The Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced (September 20th), that six difficult years will follow, with problems in balancing the budget, due to world prices for raw materials, but also due to the economic sanctions imposed to Russia.

On the other hand, the local elections, which should have passed “as planned”, brought the first defeats at local level for the “United Russia” party. In some places, the winners were even disappointed (!!): the winning communists were concerned that, after the unexpected victory by their local candidates, the Communist Party might anger the power, and they would lose the confortable role of left wing decorative party.

These developments show that the power in Moscow is no longer sure when economic problems arise: the voters sanctioned the power for the pension law, and the governors (elected, but in a lucrative complicity with the power) proved that they can change allegiance according to the local situation. None of these problems jeopardizes the power, but they are indications of the fragile social contract: in absence of a minimal economic security, even the Russians punish the power by their votes.

 

The economic sanctions keep coming: this week 38, the US implemented the second phase of the sanctions generated by the Skripal case. It is true: the new sanctions to be discussed in the Congress will be postponed until after the November midterms, and President Trump tries to limit their scope. The worst sanctions would be the banning of Russian banks’ access to international financial flows, and limitations in transacting Russian bonds. Moscow warned that such sanctions would mean economic war, and it would consider retaliation by any means.

The effect of the new sanctions is diminished by the fact that individuals or firms were already on the blacklist of previous sanctions. However, the effect is considerable, and it afflicts even the armament industry to the point where Russia’s export to China is jeopardized: a Chinese agency was sanctioned for importing modern Russian aircraft, considering its cooperation with a Russian manufacturer included in the list of firms subjected to sanctions. Such unprecedented action comes on the background of the Sino-American trade war, which is about to reach its peak.

 

Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow showed the limits of Russia’s relations with the Europeans. It seems that the path to Moscow becomes a positive political option only when a European leader is isolated within the EU. This was the case of Hungary’s President, V. Orbán, who paid a visit to Russia (on September 18th), to prove that he has political alternatives even after being punished in the European Parliament, and Article 7 was activated. He also went to Moscow to give birth to the great energetic project at Páks, where Russia will build two additional nuclear reactors, also providing 12.5 billion Euros financing. In what circumstances is not known, as the contract is secret! For Russia, the contract is perhaps profitable, but there is no certainty that it is profitable for Hungary too. V. Orbán has been promised other projects in energy before, but they are still in blueprint.

Even the nuclear project at Páks needs European Commission (EC) approval - a license needs to be issued, and this is no way on green light, especially since Austria opposes that, for environmental reasons. So, the enthusiastic declarations in Moscow will most likely be tempered by the EC. The neighboring Austria, which plays a different game (to V. Orbán’s surprise), will not hesitate to act. The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has a totally different policy than V. Orbán: he voted for the activation of Article 7 against Hungary, and, regarding Ukraine, he declared in Kyiv Austria’s support to Ukraine in face of Russia’s aggressive actions.

Another issue discussed by V. Orbán with V. Putin was Ukraine, where, in a period when this country was fighting for survival facing the Russian danger, Hungary was proposing the solution of decentralization, exactly the tool needed by the Kremlin to politically control Ukraine. In the same time, in Transcarpathia, Budapest illegally provides Hungarian passports to Ukrainian citizens who are ethnic Hungarian.

In these conditions, it is no wonder that Bulgaria supported Hungary against the activation of Article 7. It seems logical, since Sofia steers towards the same situation as Hungary: the justice in Bulgaria does not seem to be touched by the political power just because the reform did not begin (as we say in Romanian, the justice is majestic, but it is totally absent). Regarding Russia, Bulgaria is an example for Hungary as to how low things can go: after being obliged to pay important amounts of money to Russia because it… does not build nuclear reactors in Kozlodui, the Bulgarian political leadership had to humbly tread to Moscow, hat in hand, in hope of better bilateral economic relations. And this happened after a Russian member of parliament boasted that Russia… owns half of the Bulgarian economy[iv]. Bulgaria’s situation is a good warning for Hungary, should V. Orbán care to see it.

In Ukraine, the problems get more complicated, especially due to Kyiv’s firm decision to completely split from Russia. The tensions are already at the highest level in the issue of the Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On September 21st, Kyiv decided to initiate the procedures to withdraw from the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty with Russia. The Ukrainian Rada (the Parliament) also voted for introducing the wording “Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO” into the Ukrainian Constitution. With such a step, Kyiv de jure crossed the Rubicon, beyond the point where it can steer back towards Moscow.

Russia thus faces Kyiv, which is decided to completely shed Moscow’s domination. How would the Kremlin react? Is the threat with sanctions enough to deter a conflict escalation which would allow Moscow to make Kyiv yield to concessions? Hitherto, Russia considered that controlling and policing Donbas was enough: the separatist leaders were put in a bus and sent to Moscow, where they were explained what they have to do in the post-Zakharchenko era. Meanwhile, in Minsk, in the framework of the contact group, the separatist representatives requested a referendum in Donbas, which is exactly what it seemed V. Putin obtained from President D. Trump in Helsinki. Most likely, Russia will react, but the way it will do it is still to be seen.

On Syria, Russia reached an agreement with Turkey regarding Idlib. Although it seems to be a concession, this is the optimal solution for Russia: Turkey will take the responsibility to separate the moderate rebels from the terrorists, and to remove the latter out of Idlib. The agreement was reached in Sochi (September 17th), between the Russian President, V. Putin, and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The document also establishes a demilitarized zone along the Syrian – Turkish border, where combined Russo-Turkish patrols will operate. The solution looks feasible on paper; we will see if it works. This solution bodes well for both parties, especially since Germany, probably the discrete middleman of this accord, will sponsor this peace arrangement. However, this is bad news for the Kurds living in Idlib, who will have to prove they are not terrorists.

Anyway, Russia was not able to rejoice the agreement, because a Russian reconnaissance aircraft IL 20M was hit by the Syrian anti-aircraft defense on September 17th. The Syrians were firing against Israeli aircraft attacking Syrian targets, but the Russian bigger aircraft got in the way[v]. After first hand neutral declarations, Russia held Israel responsible for the incident. Israel reacted at political level, by presenting all the data on the case, and confirming that Syrian fire hit the Russian aircraft, regardless the activity of the Israeli aircraft in the area. The incident seems to be the result of major flaws of the non-integrated Russo-Syrian anti-aircraft defense system, and of Syrian soldiers incompetence. Even worse, a more serious issue surfaces, and that is the fact that Russian military lie to their superiors: the Israeli representatives brought the proof that they had communicated to the Russian military authorities much earlier than the minute aknowledged by the Russian higher command. In these circumstances, the Russian military intervention in Syria does not look like a victory parade anymore.  

In response, Russia closed again several maritime areas in vicinity of the Syrian coast, under the pretext of new exercises, actually aiming to limit the Israeli aircraft freedom of movement. This measure only increases the chances of new incidents, considering that Israel announced it would continue the air attacks against Iranian objectives in Syria.

In the Balkans, on the occasion of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina (September 22nd), Moscow presented a balanced position, although the event was aimed at supporting the leader of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, in view of the presidential elections. Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed Russia’s support for the Dayton agreements, different from Milorad Dodik’s policy, which aims at separating Republika Srpska from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Most likely, for the moment, Moscow considers that M. Dodik is more useful within the collegial presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, than in the position of leading a separation of Republika Srpska, and causing un-necessary trouble in the process.

However, it is hard to believe that Russia will change its policy in the Balkans, the objective remaining the same: to block the EU accession process, supported by the US, i.e. the process of Western Balkans nations integration into NATO and EU.

On September 21st, in Romania’s proximity, in the Crimean Peninsula, Russia operationalized the third anti-aircraft defense S 400 missile squadron, close to Evpatoria. What is left is that the (now Canadian) NATO pilots be “lit” by the fire command RADARS of these systems, and… we have a new dangerous escalation, on our doorstep. Such course of action cannot be ruled out, considering that Russian strategic bombers Tu 160 were intercepted, this past week 38, by British RAF aircraft, and the French air forces were alerted, after the Russian bombers flew close to the British air space, the French respectively.   

IV. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Vladimir Plahotniuc’s Party Is No Longer Pro-European, Discovering that It Is “Pro-Moldovan”.

On September 14th, Vlad Plahotniuc announced his decision that his party, the Democrat Party of Moldova (PDM), will no longer pursue a Pro-European policy, with geopolitical features, but a “pro-Moldovan” policy, yet to be explained. Previously, the EU representative to Chişinău, Peter Michalko, had addressed serious critics to R. of Moldova’s power: the non-implementation of reforms; breach of the justice independence; the power abuse in the case of mayoral elections in Chişinău. He also warned the power regarding the organization of general elections and the electoral campaign.

Vlad Plahotniuc’s decision, which reminds a South-American ”pronunciamento”, means shedding the heralded, but never implemented European orientation of his party. It is not clear how this ”pro-Moldovan” orientation will be described, but we know what it means: the supreme leader declares himself master in command over his country, and removes the EU supervision over governance and justice.  

Right away, V. Plahotniuc paid a visit to the US Embassy in Chişinău, aiming to prove that his party does not intend to reposition itself on the geopolitical scene. V. Plahotniuc’s problem is that the US, even during the Trump Administration, continues the same policy in the R. of Moldova, and the message regarding anti-corruption provided by an American official stands to prove it. Additionally, a small detail proves that the US delegated part of the responsibilities to… the European Union, to Germany respectively: the new head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, who was traditionally American, now is a German.

The reason of V. Plahotniuc’s decision is, certainly, the cessation of European financing for his country, with the slim perspective of resuming payments, should the European standards be accomplished after the general elections. On September 21st, a European official, Petras Auštrevičius, publicly announced the end of European financial support.

Finally, V. Plahotniuc decided that the “pro-European” charade does not work in Brussels anymore, even if it utilizes the “useful idiots”, and he came back to the fold, with the socialists and communists, supporting the “moldovenism”. So, he stated an absurdity: his party is not pro-European, but pro-Moldovan, as if a political party is not formed precisely to serve its country. By this joke, V. Plahotniuc communicated to the EU that, since it gets no money anymore, his regime feels no longer obliged to provide lip service (because, in fact, no implementation of standards was even initiated). The goal of Moldova’s integration into the EU has been forgotten. This was an unrealistic goal anyway, since R. of Moldova is not integrated even into itself: the state has no fundament at all – neither national, political, nor economic. The Republic of Moldova is a “zone”[vi], a territory systematically plundered in bright daylight by its elite with no soul and no homeland.

Henceforth, V. Plahotniuc officially opened the path back to the “geopolitical neutrality”, exactly where his party has actually always been: much closer to a lawless space, than to a space of minimal rule of law.

Of course, disinformation will continue. The Prime-Minister Pavel Filip tried to send the message that “it is so, yet it is not”, with the pro-European orientation. Most likely, V. Plahotniuc will also communicate to Brussels that, actually, he has been forced to declare that… in order to have better chances in elections! As the pro-European message is no longer palatable to the voters! It looks surreal, but the practice of lying is the rule, not the exception, within the system ruled by V. Plahotniuc.

From many points of view, it is actually better this way. For good and for bad, the situation became clear, and the waste of European and Romanian money on a corrupt “elite” will hopefully stop right now. The danger is to have Igor Dodon and V. Plahotniuc in cohabitation, or even Dodon’s party victory. But such dangers are balanced by the present situation: financially, R. of Moldova cannot survive without a sponsor, and Russia only pays when it is certain it will get full control. However, Russia is not able to achieve that even using a new Kozak plan, because Germany will not accept the presence of Russian troops in a reunified “Moldavia”. Or will it?

In addition, the great geopolitical change in the area was not made by “the supreme leader of a zone”, V. Plahotniuc, but by Ukraine: at the end of the day, even “transnistrianized”, the R. of Moldova is but a tiny state sandwiched between Ukraine, recently oriented towards the west, and Romania, member state of the EU and NATO. This means that Moldova is located between two nations where strong democratic societies are in the process of consolidation, slower or quicker. Consequently, although the near future looks bright for the great leader, on the long run V. Plahotniuc has nothing to rejoice: he cannot reign forever, together with his state and party pyramid of power, over a lawless zone, situated between two democracies.

Meanwhile, President I. Dodon does his best to increase the chances of his party in the elections, by blocking the appointments decided by V. Plahotniuc for the Cabinet. Dodon has been temporary suspended again on this ground by the Constitutional Court, as it happened before, when the party holding parliamentary majority appointed ministers who had to get presidential bless by decree. If it was not tragic, with the majority of the Moldovan population in a desperate economic situation, the situation in the R. of Moldova would be an endless comedy.

*    *    *

During next week (39), a streak of events with great impact on Romania is to begin, although they will occur at a long distance of us: one is global – the US-China trade war, and one is military – the situation escalation in the Persian Gulf.

In the case of the trade war between the US and China, the peak moment is getting closer, when almost all Chinese merchandise exported to America, and the American goods exported to China will be supplementary taxed. The probability of a compromise on the matter seems to be slim.

In the Persian Gulf, after the terrorist attack, whence soldiers of the Republican Guard (and also many civilians) were killed by Arab separatists, Iran will likely react, and this will happen exactly in the moment when the US sanctions tighten the noose towards complete implementation, and the Iranian economy has difficult problems. Knowing the asymmetric way Iran acted previously, the tensions between this country and the Sunni nations in the area, but also with the US, will see a quick escalation. Consequently, the perspective of new violent incidents cannot be ruled out, even if Tehran pays a lot of attention to the way it will react to the difficult situation it founds itself due to the US sanctions. But Tehran also pays attention to its own aggressive actions in the area, conducted directly or by proxies.


[i] The British voters have been lured with false arguments by an elite displeased of being controlled by the Brussels legislation and bureaucracy, but the real price has never been explained. Why would the EU jeopardize its future by offering a costly exception to this elite, thus rewarding its anti-European stance and its populist pre-referendum policy?  

[ii] For the moment, Viktor Orbán’s party, FIDESZ, dodged the exclusion from the European Popular Parties group (EEP). Anyway, the EPP might pay a high price for tolerating the far right policy of this party, led by a leader who has been a systematically protected ”prodigy child”. Bringing Romania and Slovakia in discussion is useless, because these countries have smaller particular problems, compared to the severe issue of building a nationalist extremist regime constantly assaulting the rule of law, which is specific to Hungary.

[iii] Poland is a successfully transitioned country precisely because it had a political and social solution to exit communism, and its middle class is truly born from the post-communism economic freedom. It only sinned by the radicalism of its present governing leaders, who want to sweep off the last remnants of the communist period, by sacking the judges appointed before the communists lost power. In collision with the old communist remnants’ own radicalism, in their attempt to control justice, the present measure is really a threat to democracy. Let us not forget though, that, in Poland, democracy has solid political, social and economic fundaments, which are still to be desired in other new EU member states. 

[iv] Russia is active in Bulgaria to the level where, according to available information, European leaders participating to the EU Summit have been eavesdropped at the hotel where they were lodged, by the Russian secret services. Tardily, the Bulgarian authorities initiated the procedures to accuse the Bulgarian oligarch who owns the hotel, of... tax evasion.

[v] The case is described in the article ”Syria – the Downing of the Russian Aircraft, beyond the Declarations”, on www.monitorulapararii.ro.

[vi] An analyst well known in Moldova, Vlad Socor, recently declared that the R. of Moldova degraded from the level of a state, dropping simply to the level of a ”zone”, where those who control the zone by force have their way, wheeling and dealing, and draining the zone in their interest.