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Oct 24, 2017 | 19:39 GMT

2 mins read

Moldova: Parliament Appoints New Defense Minister, After Suspending the President

Forecast update

In Stratfor's 2017 Fourth-Quarter Forecast, we highlighted that countries caught in the standoff between Russia and the West would challenge EU integration efforts and potentially increase their cooperation with Russia. Moldova, emblematic of this struggle, has become increasingly polarized between a pro-West Parliament and a pro-Russia president. Though Moldova's parliamentary elections next year may change its position in the Russia-West standoff, the competing visions over its foreign policy orientation are likely to persist.

In Moldova, the standoff between Russia and the West has translated into a bitter contest between the pro-Russia president and the pro-West Parliament over critical political appointments. After a 10-month deadlock, on Oct. 24, Moldova's Parliament formally approved a new defense minister, Eugen Sturza. Moldovan President Igor Dodon twice refused to appoint Sturza on the grounds that he did not have the military qualifications to serve as defense minister. This time, Moldova's Parliament temporarily suspended Dodon after the Constitutional Court ruled that his refusals were unconstitutional to approve Sturza. Dodon is fully expected to be reinstated as president.

Though the conflict over the defense minister has been settled, it won't settle the broader standoff between Dodon and Parliament. In the past, Dodon has criticized Parliament's support for Moldova's EU integration efforts, calling instead for a closer relationship with Russia and the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union. Dodon has also railed against Moldova's military cooperation and training exercises with NATO and the United States, preferring to keep the country neutral when it comes to military and security matters.

Moreover, the temporary suspension of Dodon will potentially widen the rift between the president and Parliament. Dodon had earlier threatened to call his supporters onto the streets over the appointment of Sturza. In upcoming parliamentary elections, Dodon's Socialist party is likely to perform well, which may provide the president with the additional support he needs to move the country away from the West and closer to Russia. But until then, the tug-of-war between Moldova's rival factions and their competing foreign policy visions is likely to continue.

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