NEWS: “There is no doubt that the last impediment to the open accession of the Republic of Moldova to NATO - art. 11 of the Constitution - is extremely irritating to the president and the PAS parliamentary majority, but they can't do anything, for now.
Even though PAS holds the parliamentary majority, it needs five more votes to amend the Constitution and there is no way of getting them. For this reason, as many believe, the actions of the state bodies against the opposition deputies are aimed at identifying the right levers to push and have them vote for the exclusion of the neutrality article from the Constitution.
Since the beginning of November, before the NATO summit in Bucharest, officials in Chisinau increased their activities in that direction. On November 10, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu met in Paris with the French Minister of Defense Sébastien Lecornu to discuss collaboration in the military field”. Popescu later announced that “we agreed to improve the dialogue between the Defense Ministries of the two states”. Improving the dialogue also translates into joint military exercises. And all this against the background of attempts to amend the Constitution and cancel Moldova’s status of neutrality”.
NARRATIVES: 1. The pro-European government in Chisinau wants to force the Republic of Moldova’s entry in NATO and is even ready to risk a war with Russia. 2. The government in Chisinau is putting pressure on the opposition, including through the judiciary, to eliminate the neutrality status provided in the Constitution.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: The neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova is provided for in the Constitution voted in 1994 by a leftist parliament. Maintaining the status quo is promoted by pro-Moscow politicians, who present it as a guarantor of the country's security, although the Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown that it is not.
The collaboration of the Republic of Moldova with NATO started back in the 90s, and one of the most important NATO projects was the evacuation of large quantities of pesticides, left over from the Soviet era and which were a danger to the environment.
However, the North Atlantic Alliance is still presented as a scarecrow to a large part of the population of the Republic of Moldova, who sees it through the lens of Soviet propaganda and, more recently, of the Russian Federation.
The “risk” of the Republic of Moldova's accession to NATO or the setting-up of military bases of the Alliance on the territory of the Republic of Moldova are frequently invoked by pro-Russian politicians in Chisinau, although there have never been any discussions in this regard at formal level.
Disinformation about NATO's supposed activities in the Republic of Moldova, the construction of military bases or even the potential accession to NATO appear periodically in the Russian and Russian-language media in the Republic of Moldova, fueled by statements or insinuations by some left-wing politicians.
Government representatives have repeatedly stated that the status of neutrality is not a guarantee of security, but no steps have been taken to amend the Constitution in this regard.
PURPOSE: To present the pro-European government in Chisinau as one controlled by the West, which puts its interests in the foreground, to the detriment of those of the citizens. To inoculate the idea that the current government is hostile to Russia and dangerous to security in the region. To present the cases and lawsuits against some politicians involved in acts of corruption as politically instrumented, with the aim of putting pressure on the opposition.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Joining NATO has never been formally discussed and currently there is no initiative to amend the Constitution and renounce the neutrality status; moreover, the pro-Europeans in power have not even announced their support for such an initiative. And even if the population and the political class would like the Republic of Moldova to join NATO and there were talks about it, it is very unlikely that the Republic of Moldova would be accepted into NATO as it is today: with an unresolved territorial conflict, with a foreign military presence on its territory and with one of the smallest defense budgets in the world, of less than 0.4% of the GDP.
The government in Chisinau, which has repeatedly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is trying to get more support from the West, and has received guarantees of assistance to strengthen its defense capabilities, but this does not mean joining NATO - even neutral countries must have the ability to defend themselves.
Several pro-Russian politicians from Chisinau, such as the ex-leader of the Socialists Igor Dodon and the leader of the Shor Party, Ilan Shor, are targeted in corruption cases, and the affiliated media are trying to present the cases as political, at the behest of the government. Allegations of corruption against them – and, in some cases, investigations and prosecutions – predate the war in Ukraine and the coming to power of PAS.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: There are government representatives who would opt for renouncing the neutrality status and join NATO, but these decisions would be impossible in the short to medium term.