Friday, October 2, 2009

Discretion is the better part of valour

It is refreshing to hear Vlad Filat speaking the truth into Moldova's relationship with Russia.  Statements regarding (a) the need for Russia to withdraw its troops, (b) the language spoken in Moldova (Romanian), (c) a desire to get closer to NATO and (d) Russia's dominance of the media in Moldova are all true and will play well back home with a liberal electorate keen for change.

Unfortunately however, they may have the opposite effect to that intended.  Russia doesn't take kindly to being given black eyes in public - consider the treatment they have meted out to Saakashvili and Iusenko over the last few years.

A smarter mode of operation would be to allow others (bloggers, foreign partners, NGOs) to make those kind of statements and instead quietly focus on actions.  For example, rather than publically complaining aboiut Russia's media dominance, just re-auction transmission rights under a new system designed to ensure greater pluralism.  Rather than complaining about Russia's propensity to turn off the gas as political weapon, build gas storage and renewable energy production facilities, and introduce carbon taxes.  Rather than making statements about possibly joining NATO one day, make other proposals to get western military boots on the ground in Moldova (e.g. training of the national army).

Above all, build in Moldova a strong economy and a strong democracy, in order to strengthen Moldova's negotiating position.

The AIE needs to be smart as well as determined.

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