NARRATIVES: 1. The pro-European government in Chisinau is closing universities and schools to procure Western NATO weapons. 2. NATO’s military aid will cause problems for the Republic of Moldova and will turn the people into cannon fodder. 3. Neutrality is the only way to ensure the security of the Republic of Moldova.PURPOSE: The narratives aim to discredit the pro-Western orientation and disrupt the European path of the Republic of Moldova. They are also trying to inoculate the idea that a possible renunciation of neutrality and joining NATO would be catastrophic for the Republic of Moldova.
CONTEXT: The danger of the Russian war in Ukraine brought the issue of national security to the fore, as the Republic of Moldova has a secessionist region on its territory militarily supported by the Russian Federation since 1992, when a war on the Dniester took place. In this context, the issue of equipping and modernizing the National Army was raised. The Republic of Moldova has one of the smallest defense budgets in the region, which has never exceeded the level of 0.4% of the GDP. The Council of the European Union approved this summer an assistance measure under the European Instrument for Peace in the amount of 40 million euros for the benefit of the Army of the Republic of Moldova. Also, in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine, experts in Chisinau warn that the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova is not enough to ensure its security.
Former president Igor Dodon, who is under house arrest, being prosecuted on five counts, including treason, illegal party financing, corruption and illicit enrichment, has given several interviews to the Russian press, making accusations against the pro-European government in Chisinau.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: In the Republic of Moldova, a reform of the university system is taking place, some higher education institutions being merged with others. This reform is primarily dictated by the small number of students, partly caused by the major demographic issue that the Republic of Moldova faces. However, the reduction in the number of universities has nothing to do with the cooperation with NATO, the defense budget or other collaborations in the military field, as Igor Dodon insinuates.
The cooperation of the Republic of Moldova with NATO takes place within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). Participating in it offers the Republic of Moldova a real opportunity to strengthen its national security and defense capabilities, to benefit from the expertise and experience of NATO member and partner countries in the field of security and defense, assistance in the training of personnel, language training of National Army officers, etc. . Also, PfP ensures access to information, statistics, sources of political, technical and financial aid. A special aspect is the familiarization of the military with the manner of conducting peacekeeping operations.
Also, the Republic of Moldova cooperates with NATO in the fields of science and environmental protection. By means of the NATO Special Trust Fund, under the project on the destruction of pesticides and dangerous chemical products, thousands of tons of dangerous pesticide waste have been neutralized, for the benefit of the health of the population of the Republic of Moldova. Under the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program, the Republic of Moldova has projects with NATO regarding the creation of a training center in the field of cyber security, a chemical laboratory for the analysis of pesticides in the Republic of Moldova, the regional project regarding the harmonization of the geography of earthquake risks in Bulgaria, Romania and the Republic of Moldova and assessing the risks of landslides in the central part of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the development of a multinational telemedicine system for emergency situations.
All these types of cooperation are for the benefit of the security and well-being of the population, not to the detriment of the Republic of Moldova, as Igor Dodon claims. In fact, the narratives that the former pro-Russian president repeats are part of the anti-NATO and anti-Western rhetoric supported by Russia, including in the former Soviet republics, in order to keep them within its sphere of influence. They have intensified along with the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The money pledged through the European Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace is intended to strengthen the capabilities of the logistics, mobility, command and control, cyber security, etc. units for the Military Medical Service and the Engineering Battalion, which do not directly target the military capability of the army.
However, the principle of neutrality does not prohibit the development and equipping of the National Army or international cooperation or missions. The world's best-known neutral state, Switzerland, has a well-equipped and trained army; moreover, the Swiss Parliament has recently approved the purchase of 36 F-35 fighter jets , manufactured in the United States.
At the same time, the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova is being violated by the Russian Federation, which illegally maintains its troops on its territory.
The government in Chisinau has not said anything about renouncing its neutrality. On the contrary, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the authorities have emphasized several times the fact that the Republic of Moldova respects the principle of neutrality.