Moldova’s government has endorsed a new defence strategy and sent it to the parliament for approval, just days after the appointment of the country’s new Defence Minister Eugen Sturza in the face of fierce opposition from President Igor Dodon.
Earlier this year, pro-Russian Dodon cancelled the strategy previously endorsed in 2016 by his predecessor Nicolae Timofti. The government issued the new strategy shortly after winning a political battle with Dodon over the appointment of pro-Nato candidate Sturza.
The government used a Constitutional Court ruling that the president can be suspended for his refusal to appoint the defence minister proposed by the government to appoint Sturza. Dodon was temporarily suspended while parliament speaker Andrian Candu, as acting president, made the appointment.
On his appointment, the new defence minister said his priorities will include the modernisation of the army and training the military.
Among the main actions envisaged under the new strategy, for the years 2017-2021 are modern equipment for the army, reviewing the responsibilities of the force structures, and harmonising the legal provisions that regulate the national defence system with European norms, a government statement said.
Chisinau wants to earmark 0.5% of GDP — MDL960mn (€47mn) in 2018 — to carry out the new defence strategy, unimedia.md reported quoting the document. The cost will be covered from the state budget and external sources, the government statement said without elaborating further.
“My position is that Moldova is a neutral country. At the same time, neutrality does not mean isolation. We should continue to offer our military the possibility to be well trained and we should have a professional and well organised army,” Sturza said.
This was reflected in the new strategy which refers to dialogue with both the EU and Russia.
"The Republic of Moldova will continue the political dialogue and specific cooperation with the European Union by intensifying the cooperation in the fields of common security and defence policy with a view of conflict prevention and crisis management, as well as to achieve regional stability,” the strategy specifies in regard to the country’s cooperation with the European Union.
Separately, “... the format of the bilateral dialogue with the Russian Federation will be maintained in order to identify solutions on subjects of common interest,” the strategy specifies on a more moderate note.
Dodon called in August for a new national defence strategy “to account for both external and internal threats”, after cancelling the draft inked by Timoftu and the pro-EU government the previous month.
The revised strategy should be sent to parliament by the end of 2018.
“I remind that I have previously signed a decree by which I cancelled the strategy [endorsed last year] therefore at this moment it is in force the strategy enforced in 2011,” Dodon explained. He said in June, when issuing the decree, that the 2016 strategy “no longer reflects the national, regional and international security environment”.