Institute for Development andMOLDOVA’S FOREIGN POLICY STATEWATCH Social Initiatives “Viitorul” Issue 18, March 2011POLAND’S PRESIDENCY - AN OPPORTUNITYTO GAIN RECOGNITION OF MOLDOVA’SEUROPEAN PROSPECTSVeaceslav BerbecaMoldova’s Foreign Policy Statewatch represents a series of brief NEXT TOPICSanalyses, 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 The visit ofinternational organizations and peace building activities in the region. US Vice-presidentIt aims to create a common platform for discussion and to bringtogether experts, commentators, officials and diplomats who are Joe Bidenconcerned with the perspectives of European Integration of Moldova. to MoldovaIt is also pertaining to offer to Moldova’s diplomats and analysts avaluable tribune for debating the most interesting and controversialpoints of view that could help Moldova to find its path to EU.S ince its signing in 1994 and its entering into force in 1998, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the legal framework of Moldova - European Union relations, has not changed even if, sub- sequently, in 2004, the EU launched the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) within which the EU-Moldova Action Plan and Eastern Partnership have been developed. Being a state with pro-Europe- an aspirations, Moldova wants to amend its legal framework thatwould imply recognition of EU membership prospects. It is obvious thatfor this to occur, several conditions must be met. In addition to efforts topromote internal reforms, Moldova needs to have the support of Europeanstates in this process. The fact that Poland will hold the EU Council presi-dency from 1 July 2011 could be a chance for Moldova in its effort to haveits EU membership prospects acknowledged.
2 Moldova’s Foreign Policy StatewatchWhy Poland? There are several reasons that make us think that the Warsaw administration could startthe process of supporting the idea of recognizing the Republic of Moldova membership prospects.Indeed, Poland is in the situation to fulfill an important role in shaping the EU Eastern policyand this has already been proved by a number of actions i.e. taking an active part in EasternPartnership elaboration and launching. Poland is the largest EU member state in terms of territory and population, among thosethat joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. This fact gave the state a substantial number of votes inthe Council and members in the European Parliament. Poland, like Spain, has 27 votes in theCouncil, two fewer than Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. This is one of the reasons forprompting Poland to define its role and interests in the EU in the field of foreign policy. There is a close connection between its foreign policy interests and geographical situation.One important area to which Poland directs its attention is the Eastern Europe. The past worriesconnected with Germany have been dispelled when Poland became a NATO member in 1999 anda EU member in 2004 and the Eastern Europe, which Poland borders upon, is a source of instabilityin the region because of political and economic problems and the widely spread phenomenon ofcorruption in the Eastern European countries. Poland’s position and interest towards this region hadbeen defined, on different occasions, before Poland joined the EU emphasizing the idea that “themore the East is integrated into the EU the stronger and less peripheral Poland’s position is.”1 It isobvious that Poland’s relations with its neighbors Ukraine and Belarus are in the center of attention inthis process. They all have a common history and the integration of these states does not imply theirjoining – an idea held by many European politicians and experts. In the aftermath of the EU failure inUkraine and the perpetuation of the authoritarian regime in Belarus, the Republic of Moldova seemsto be the only country combining all preconditions to become a success country in the region. Starting with the 1st July 2011 Poland will hold the Council presidency which is animportant process in the EU thanks to the fact that the EU activity priorities in the near future areestablished. The activity of putting forward proposals and their realizations depend on the interestsand skills of the state holding the presidency. Poland, bearing in mind its internal capacity, is ableto put forward and back ambitious projects. And also, as it was highlighted above, the Warsawadministration is interested in developing a fruitful and trustworthy cooperation with the EasternEurope countries, unlike other EU member states that pay attention to other regions at the fringeof the European Union or are skeptical about strengthening and deepening relations with theEastern Europe states. For these reasons, we consider that, on short term, it is very unlikely thatanother state, except for Poland, will address the issue of acknowledging the Republic of MoldovaEuropean prospects. Polish presidency is important for the Republic of Moldova because, in1 The logic of this integration with the Eastern Europe countries does nor imply the recognition of these states European prospects, DariuszMilczarek and Alojzy Z. Nowak, On the road to the European Union. Applicant countries’ perspective, Warsaw 2003, Warsaw University Centrefor Europe, Eastern policy of the enlarged European Union, p. 245Str. 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 3the near future, there will not be another presidency favorable to the idea of acknowledging theMoldovan state European prospects or it will not have enough resources to promote this goal atthe European level. Another important factor refers to the public support for the process of the EU enlargement.The respondents in the states that have recently joined the EU are among those supporting the EUenlargement and the most numerous are the Poles (69%)2. Obviously, the respondents’ positiveattitude from Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia or Romania towards the EU enlargement refersmainly to the situation of the Western Balkan countries having such prospects and less to Moldovathat does not belong to this category. Denmark, for example, that will succeed Poland as Councilpresidency, has always been among the most skeptical countries regarding the EU enlargement.Why the Republic of Moldova? In May 2009 the Eastern Partnership was launched – an initiative met with some reservesby the former communist governance even if this policy implies the signing, on the basis ofassociation agreements, of treaties of vast and detailed free exchange and of liberalization of thevisa regime that have to be negotiated with every of the six states. The Alliance created after the elections of July 2009 changed the rhetoric towards theEastern Partnership. As a result, in January 2010 negotiations with the EU regarding the signingof an Association Agreement started. In June 2010 the dialogue concerning the visa regimeliberalization was launched and on 24 January 2010, Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissionerfor Home Affairs, presented to the Republic of Moldova the Action Plan for the liberalization of thevisa regime, a document approved by the EU member states on 16 December 2010. The wayChisinau –EU relations evolved and the beginning of internal reforms were positively appreciatedby the European officials, the Republic of Moldova being seen as a potential success story in theregion. As the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek has recently put it: “currently,the Republic of Moldova is the hope of the region.”3 The EU is interested in the existence of asuccessful example that would prove that the principal of conditionality in exchange for developingrelations with the EU is working in this region of the Europe. Among all the countries in the regionand those within the Eastern Partnership, Moldova has the best position in terms of democracy.Furthermore, the European integration idea is enjoying a high support from the part of the country’spopulation. The Republic of Moldova is a small state as for its territory and population size. This meansthat its problems could be easier coped with in accordance with the EU absorption criterion. Butthese features could, however, be a problem because of minimal advantages Moldova can offer. Another problem refers to the EU – Russia disagreement concerning the common2 Euro�arometre �3, �’opinion pu�li�ue dans l’Union Europeenne, �apport, volume 1, terrain � mai 2010 pu�lication � novem�re 2010, �on�dage commandite et coordonne par la Direction generale Communication. http�//ec.europa.eu/pu�lic_opinion/index_fr.htm3 For the EU, Ukraine is not any more a priority, the �epu�lic of Moldova has replaced it www.politik.md/?view=articlefull&viewarticle=5454 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 Statewatchneighborhood. The Union is willing to export its normative order to the Eastern Europe states -an action that bothers Russia that continues to think in the terms of a zero sum game. From theEU perspective, the multilateral cooperation with Russia in the region and the approaching to thecountries within the Eastern Partnership have become issues that are difficult to be reconciled.4The paradox and the risk of this situation would be the fact that Moldova’s approaching to theEU depended on the EU and Russia relations. Chancellor Merkel has recently praised Poland’sefforts to improve its relations with Russia, during a Germany- France- Poland meeting, andhas confirmed Berlin’s support for the so-called “Eastern Partnership”, a thing that could give animpulse to the European support for the region.Conclusions The negotiations with the EU regarding the signing of an Association Agreement, thelaunch of the dialogue concerning the visa regime liberalization and the beginning of internalreforms have enjoyed a positive assessment of the European officials. Thus, as a result of theseachievements, the Republic of Moldova is seen as a potential success story in the region. But we,however, have to emphasize the fact that this appreciation looks more like an encouragement tocontinue the reforms once started. It is desirable that the EU offer Moldova an integration prospect in order to support theinternal reforms. Otherwise, the reform spirit deprived of the European prospect could exhaustMoldovan citizens’ expectations. The Polish presidency could provide such an opportunity toinitiate discussions concerning the Republic of Moldova European prospects. But what is alsoneeded is a maximal responsibility on the part of Chisinau government in implementing reforms– actions that could be used as an argument by the countries with a positive opinion on such anapproach in order to gain support for the Republic of Moldova European way. The 2011 year is an opportunity for the Republic of Moldova when we refer to theacknowledgement of its European prospects because from 2012 will take place a range of eventsat the international and European level that will set the emphasis on topics others than that ofMoldova issue. That is why it is crucial to take advantage of the 2011 opportunity because, likewe have mentioned above, the near future will not offer us another chance like that.4 Alvaro de Vasconcelos (ed.) (2010), A strategy for EU foreign policy, �eport nr. �, European Union Institute for �ecurity, Paris, p. 43This 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