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International experts on the security of Republic of Moldova. Today: András Rácz,Ph.D. Hungarian Institute of International Affairs


András Rácz Ph.D.
Hungarian Institute of International Affairs

Security of an outsider -“ Moldova and the NATO

In the light of the recent unfortunate and frightening events in Georgia, security risks posed by separatist conflicts need to be re-evaluated, both from the military and from the non-military point of view. Concerning the military side, such a reconsideration is of special importance for Chisinau, due to two main reasons. First, the superiority of the Moldovan army over the armed forces of the separatist region is far from being evident. Second, there is a clear intention from the side of Russia to not only hinder the Euro-Atlantic integration of Moldova, but also to legalize the presence of Russian troops on Moldovan soil. Though the valid National Security Concept of Moldova envisages the permanent neutrality of the country, the above mentioned conditions are definitely not the best ones for sustainable, real neutrality.

Neutrality can be an option only as long as a country is able to ensure its own military and non-military security at a reasonable price. This is not the case of Moldova. Considering the current economic situation, any significant increase of the defense spending - equaling only 0,5% of the state budget  - is not realistic at all. If the defense budget of Chisinau cannot be adapted to the new, worsening security environment, then the general strategy needs to be reconsidered.

Another neutral European state, Finland, with a comparable size of population (approx. 5 million) spends 1,5% of its GDP on defense purposes -“ which is nominally more than 185 (!) times higher than the Moldovan spending, though Finland has no separatist conflict on her territory. However, even among these favorable conditions Finland is currently considering to move towards full NATO membership, simply because Helsinki feels being threatened by the growing Russian ambitions and capabilities. Should Moldova, though not having a common border with Russia, but having one with Ukraine, and having Russian troops stationed on her soil, constantly threatened by the existence of the separatist regime, follow a completely different path? I do not think so.
Obviously the NATO membership of Moldova is not a question of a simple political decision, neither in Mons, nor in Chisinau. The process might surely take years -“ but the process itself is the one, which needs to be revitalized. If only the objectives of the Individual Partnership Action Plan are realized, this would already mean a significant improvement in the general security of Moldova.

On the contrary, the recently adopted National Security Concept is not adequate to the current security situation. By prescribing the permanent neutrality of Moldova, it per definitionem excludes the possibility even of a closer Moldova-NATO cooperation, not to mention future membership.

All in all, I personally fully agree with and support the joint letter of Moldovan political scientists, foreign and security experts published on 26th August, in which the authors argued for the need of re-evaluating the security orientation of Moldova.

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