21 Aug. — In Moldova, the opposition Socialist Party (PSRM) called for the resignation of the recently appointed Defence Minister and First Vice-President of the Liberal Party Anatol Şalaru. They accuse him of state treason and are preparing to bring a vote of no confidence in him to parliament.
Made public in late July, the program of the coalition government (Liberal Democratic Party, Democratic Party and Liberal Party) describes two issues of importance for Moldova – NATO and relations with Romania – in rather general terms.
The theme of unification with Romania is a subject of bitter dispute in the country and was completely left out of the program. The document only briefly declares the necessity of “deepening of the strategic partnership” over the long-term for solving the overall problem of European integration. Besides that, in it were mentioned joint projects for border control and in energy and transport. Finally, the government program laconically stated that cooperation with NATO would continue within existing frameworks.
However, on 20 August, during his first foreign visit, Anatol Şalaru, who is a citizen of Romania, went much further than the framework outlined by the government (though in full accordance with his party’s position). The press conference with his Romanian counterpart started off with a statement of results. The ministers had reached an agreement on the creation of a unified peacekeeping battalion to be trained in Romania and a bilateral defence commission that would meet twice a year, in each capital alternately.
Outrage evoked subsequent statements. He affirmatively responded to the question about whether Moldova should be expected to join NATO, emphasizing that Romania, the USA and EU remain strategic partners. “I hope that soon there will be two ministries and one army so that it can be made even easier in the future,” he added regarding collaboration with Bucharest (EurActiv).
“This is a gross attempt to violate the independence and constitutional neutrality of the Republic of Moldova,” said the Socialist Party in reaction to his words. They are initiating a vote of no confidence in the minister and insist the government support their demands. The opposition also promises to begin protest actions. “The PSRM demands the total cessation of cooperation with any country members of politico-military blocs, especially NATO bloc members, in the military sphere,” it states in an official statement.
However, Şalaru himself then explained in an interview with Radio Free Europe that, concerning NATO, he was simply expressing his party’s known position in this way although he does also understand “they cannot achieve this now”.
The ruling coalition currently has 52 out of 101 seats in parliament.