The pro-European administration in Chisinau resists efforts by the Communist Party to call for a plebiscite on joining Moscow-sponsored Euro-Asian Union.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 21/09/12
President Nicolae Timofti reaffirmed Moldova's commitment to European accession, despite heavy pressure from Moscow. [Reuters]
A decision by the Moldovan presidency to reject a communist-backed proposal calling for a referendum on the country's accession to the Russia-based Euro-Asian Union has reaffirmed the country's European aspirations, despite heavy pressure exerted on the ruling coalition in Chisinau.
The Communists' Party (PCRM), the main opposition group and largest single political group in the Moldovan parliament, asked for an extraordinary session of the legislature to be held after President Nicolae Timofti rejected their initiative early this month.
Parliament Speaker Marian Lupu, who is also the president of the Democratic Party, one of the three pro-European parties in the ruling coalition, declined the communists' request, prompting the latter to call for Lupu's resignation.
"The president believes that organising such a referendum, which lies on false grounds and is clearly devoid of any perspective, aims at blocking the country's European integration process, destabilizing the internal political situation and a continuous polarization of the society," the Moldovan Presidency said in a statement released to SETimes.
In August, Moldova's Central Electoral Commission also rejected the communists' proposal on the grounds that 85 percent of the 200,000 signatures the party presented in support of its initiative were forged.
"The theme proposed for the referendum -- the Republic of Moldova's accession to the treaties of the Euro-Asian Economic Community -- contravenes our state's European vector established by the citizens at the latest parliamentary elections, and assumed by the current ruling coalition as a national development strategic project," the office of the presidency said.
The latest polls show the population is divided in its support for the EU and the Russian-backed project, which is meant to be an economic counterweight to the communitarian bloc. Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have so far joined the community, which was first articulated by then Russia's Vladimir Putin in October 2011 when he was prime minister.
Analysts said that some Moldovans' reticence towards the EU is sparked by the ongoing economic crisis in Western Europe. "Moldovans feel a certain state of restlessness which adds to a lack of clarity concerning the end of the European integration process," Petru Bogatu, a writer, political analyst and professor at Moldova State University, told SETimes.
"But despite all this, no political party has a significant base for opposing the pro-European course the country has embarked upon," Bogatu said, referring to the communists' referendum initiative. "Their call is marginal, a mere attempt to bring the party back into the spotlight."
During a visit to Moscow last week by Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat, his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev said that Moscow is ready to examine Moldova's entry into the Euro-Asian Union only if the administration in Chisinau agrees.
"The accession to the union has to be a conscious-driven one, and not imposed," Medvedev said.
In a statement meant to encourage Chisinau's current efforts, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Moldova could sign an Association Agreement with the EU within a year.