Institute for Development andMoldova’s Foreign Policy statewatch Social Initiatives “Viitorul” Issue 7, July 2010BLACK SEA REGION –CONTINUITYOR GEOPOLITICAL CHANGECornel Ciurea Next topicsMoldova’s Foreign Policy Statewatch represents a series of briefanalyses, written by local and foreign experts, dedicated to the to be covered:most topical subjects related to the foreign policy of Moldova,major developments in the Black Sea Region, cooperation with Wine warfare at the door-international organizations and peace building activities in the region. step - nothing new, justIt aims to create a common platform for discussion and to bring business for russiatogether experts, commentators, officials and diplomats who areconcerned with the perspectives of European Integration of Moldova. Are the Moldovans whoIt is also pertaining to offer to Moldova’s diplomats and analysts a hold romanian passports avaluable tribune for debating the most interesting and controversial devastating threat for eU?points of view that could help Moldova to find its path to EU.T he geopolitical situation in the Black Sea Region is in a continuous state of flux. This region was rediscovered at the beginning of the XXI century when some euroatlantic practitionners started to think about it as an ideal place for the transit of oil and gas from the Cas- pian Sea, a fertile land for the expansion of the frontiers of freedom and a good bridgehead for the containment of Russia. This region took different forms in the past, being alternatively a Soviet Union „salt lake” counteracted by Turkey and a proving ground for the erec- ting of the frontiers of freedom. Today, we could notice a reformatingof this region by reordering it according to the principles of interblock rivalry. Inthese conditions, Moldova is compelled to renew its policy of balancing amongdifferent geopolitical blocks with yet unclear contours, this taking place exactlyin the moment when the geopolitical rivalries are being reignited and the BlackSea region is loosing its statute of an „uninteresting” and a putatively tamed re-gion, becoming more and more a battlefield with an unpredictable outcome.
2 Moldova’s Foreign Policy statewatchThe Geopolitical Rivalriesin the Black Sea RegionThe advancement of euroatlantism in the Black Sea Region fostered at some moment theillusion of the enhancement of the cooperative efforts of the states which are members ofthe so-called Wider Back Sea Region (Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Bularia, Moldova,Azerbaidjan, Armenia and Georgia), seemingly cementing the friendly character of theirrelationhips (except Russia). The much-quoted article „The Black Sea and the Frontiersof Freedom” written in 2004 by Ronald D. Asmus and Bruce P. Jackson, traced out themain lines of convergence between the limitrophe countries and underlined the Westerncountries interest for the building of a unitary and coherent space after years of neglect.Several interstate organizations, like GUAM and the Community of Democratic Choice,proved the intent of some states (Georgia and Ukraine) to transform the Black Sea Regionin an area of stability and security - in fact, an waiting room for the intergration in the EU andNATO. The colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and the reshuffle of the priorities inthe foreign policy of the Moldova after the parliamentary elections in April 2005, confirmedthese new aspirations, apperantly creating the feeling that the democratization process inthis region is irreversible and the continental powers, led by Russia, have no other choicethan to give up their traditional strategy of opposing to the West.In fact, the period of convergence did not last long. Since 2006 Russia made it clear byapplying economic sanctions to Georgia and Moldova that other Black Sea countries drifttoward euroatlantism would not be tolerated. NATO Summit, held in Bucharest in April 2008,was also pointing at Western states unwillingness to incorporate Georgia and Ukraine inNATO. Finally, the Georgian war in August 2008 and the Ianukovici victory in presidentialelections in Ukraine in 2010, wiped out definitely any optimism regarding the credibilityof the euroatlantic credentials and urged the reversal of the confrontational policy in theregion. This trend has been strengthened by Turkey, which is proned more and more toa continental approach, following a policy of gradual detachment from NATO and beingaddicted to panturkism. Turkey is determined to come into play more decisively in the SouthCaucasus, where it could come to an understanding with Russia, which is very keen onpreserving its monopoly on gas transit toward West (Russia is being very much concernedabout Azerbaidjan and Turkey is trying to reestablish normal relationships with Armenia – atraditional Russian ally).The recent geopolitical changes serve as a proof that the Black Sea Region no longerfits the model „West against Russia” but it is not yet taking the form of a bipolar model„Continental powers (Russia, Turkey, Ukraine) versus Sea powers”. Some riparian stateslike Bulgaria, Ukraine, Roumania and Moldova act in a nevrotic manner, balancing betweendifferent power configurations. For instance, NATO member Bulgaria is reconsidering thismonth its decision to withdraw from the two energy projects led by Russia – South Streampipeline and Belene nuclear station. Bulgaria agreement given to Russian projects irritatesWashington which is seeking a diversification of energy sourses. At the same time, anotherstr. iacob hîncu 10/1, chişinău Md-2005 republic of Moldova 373 / 22 221844 phone 373 / 22 245714 fax firstname.lastname@example.org www.viitorul.org
Moldova’s Foreign Policy statewatch 3NATO member – Romania – is trying to replace Bulgaria in the South Stream project, whichis strongly disfavored by USA due to the fact that it is making meaningless the Nabuccoproject.Another curious initiative, which came to the fore in June, is connected to the fact thatthe likelihood of a new military alliance at the Black Sea was announced, by means of amilitary treaty between Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, under the name of Black Sea DefenseTreaty. This new Aliance has the potential of undermining the euroatlantic expansion – itis balancing against two NATO members – Bulgaria and Roumania, it is a point won byRussia in the competition with the USA and the European Union on the Ukrainian issue,and it is making Turkey drifting toward continentalism.Thus, we could see that the geopolitical interactions in the Black Sea Region are notarranged according to some predetermined dividing lines between states, each of thembeing occasionaly part of some shifting alliances. This oscillatory behaviour increasesthe degree of unpredictability of the Black Sea Region, transforming it into a zone of highgeopolitical seismicity.Republic of Moldova and theGeopolitics of the Black SeaSince its inception, Republic of Moldova used to pursue a multivectorial foreign policy, beingperiodically shaken by some drastic changes of geopolitical alignments, due to its statute of„no men’s land”. For two years since 2004, Moldova was tempted by the euroatlantic vector,which was especially visible during president Voronin legitimizing meetings with Iushenko,Basescu and Saakashvili in 2005 and the hosting of the GUAM Summit in Chisinau in thesame year, when a rejuvenation of this organization was attempted. Later, the communistgovernment opted for a new switch in foreign policy toward the East, launching an ideologicalwar against Romania and adopting the policy of „empty seat” in GUAM. Nevertheless, itshould be mentioned that Moldova’s positioning in the Black Sea Region is determinedgenerally, by the imperative of its own survival as a state.Lacking the possibilities of other states (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine) to play the role ofsome secondary regional leader, Moldova is sandwiched between different contradictoryinterests of their eastern and western neighbours. Despite the apparent normalization ofits relationships with Romania, Moldova is forced to promote a very prudent foreign policytoward its western neighbour, being compelled to take into account seriously the so-calledpanromanism warnings. Marco Papic from Stratfor and Sabina Fati from Free Romaniasuggested recently the Romanian interest for negotiating with Russia the inclusion ofMoldova without Transnistria in Romania in exchange for some economic favours. Besides,the member of the Supreme’s Rada Foreign Policy Committee of Ukraine Alexei Logvinenko,admitted on July 14 that the absorbtion of Moldova by Romania could lead to the worsening str. iacob hîncu 10/1, chişinău Md-2005 republic of Moldova 373 / 22 221844 phone 373 / 22 245714 fax email@example.com www.viitorul.org
4 Moldova’s Foreign Policy statewatchof the bilateral relationships between Romania and Ukraine. The same idea was expousedby the Russian polical scientist Alexei Kuzimin. All these fears are exacerbated by thepromotion of the so-called „ historical politics” by the Liberal Party in Chisinau, which isbased on massive utilization of national symbols in public discourse.Conversely, Republic of Moldova is obliged to be very careful in dealing with Ukraine,especially when Transnistria is concerned. The joint statement made by Medvedev andIanukovici on May 17, was received very coldly by the moldavian political elite, who wasembarrased by this convergence in views on Transnistria issue, bypassing the so-called5+2 format of negoctiation. At the same time, Moldova’s politicians were shocked by thedeclaration made by the Suprem Rada’s Chief of the Foreign Policy Committee Oleg Bilorus,who refered to a secret covenant between Russian and Ukranian presidents which involvesa partition of Moldova between Ukraine (Transnistria) and Russia (right bank of Dnesterriver). This covenant has been fiercely disavowed by the official Kiev, although it remainsas a burn in Moldova’s public awareness.ConclusionsThere is a slow process of repostioning of the main geopolitical actors in the Black SeaRegion. Moldova’s neighbours – Ukraine and Romania are not going to align themselvesautomatically with the main geopolitical trends, prefering more subtle approaches andpursuing with much more persistence their own national interests. Within this framework,Moldova is compelled to maintain a peaceful and cooperative dialogue with its neighbours,being at the same time on guard in order to avoid above-mentioned absorbtions. On theone hand, an excessive reorientation towards Romania will deprive Moldova, according tosome analysts, of its raison d’etre, creating very tense reations with Ukraine and, possibly,Russia. The recent unnanounced decision of Moldova’s authorities to transmit just to theRomanian part personal data of all Moldovan citizens is an example of how rumours aboutabsorbtion could be incited. On the other hand, an inconclusive policy towards Ukrainecould lead to strains between Chisinau, Kiev and Tiraspol, harming the process of countryreintegration and endangering Moldova’s fragile ethnic and identity equilibrium. Beingtrapped in this geopolitical Black Sea „casino”, Moldova is determined to follow a policy of„trancending” this narrow framework of mutual rivalries in the region, opting for the EuropeanUnion integration as a tool of passing by this regional mess.This publication was produced by idis “viitorul” with the financial support of soros FoundationMoldova and the national endowment for democracy. The opinions expressed in this publicati-on reflect the author’s/authors’ position and don’t necessary represent the views of the donors.str. iacob hîncu 10/1, chişinău Md-2005 republic of Moldova 373 / 22 221844 phone 373 / 22 245714 fax firstname.lastname@example.org www.viitorul.orgstr. iacob hîncu 10/1, chişinău Md-2005 republic of Moldova 373 / 22 221844 phone 373 / 22 245714 fax email@example.com www.viitorul.org