Moldova's pro-Russian president calls for early elections

Moldova's pro-Russian president calls for early elections
Moldova's new president Igor Dodon has called for Moldova to join Russia's Customs Union.
By bne IntelliNews November 15, 2016

Incoming Moldovan President Igor Dodon has called for early elections in his first interview given to Rossia24 on November 14, hours after he won the presidential elections.

Dodon said he wants early parliamentary elections next year to create a government that will support his plans.  However, calling early elections can be done only after the legislative process is stalled by political deadlock, which has not been the case since the formation of the majority coalition in January.

Dodon has in the past criticised Moldova’s Association Agreement with the EU and called for Moldova to join Russia's Customs Union. As president, he can ask for a referendum on this issue, but parliament still has to approve any subsequent legislation.

Speaking to Izvestia several days before elections, he confirmed plans for a referendum on the EU Association Agreement. He reiterated that he and his Socialist party would vote for abolishing it, but admitted that this is a decision to be taken by the electorate and parliament.

Dodon toned down his remarks about the agreement during the presidential campaign, to avoid creating tensions with the many Moldovans working in the EU. However, he has constantly stressed that Moldova must hold a privileged relationship with Russia and should become a member of the Moscow-led Customs Union, while maintaining at the same time the benefits of a special relationship with the EU. He has advocated for maintaining the visa-free regime with the EU and for for Moldovan goods being tax-free exported to Europe.

Dodon’s Socialist Party PSRM is the largest in parliament since the elections in November 2014, but the majority is controlled by the ruling coalition formed around the Democratic Party (PDM) of Vlad Plahotniuc. Attempts to oust the government by a non-confidence motion on a very popular topic such as the theft of $1bn from banks to be paid from public money failed before the presidential elections.

In his Rossia24 interview, Dodon also criticised the current government’s plan to evacuate Russian troops from the separatist region Transnistria, backing the Russian foreign affairs minister Grigori Karasin, who rejected such plans voiced by Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities.

Russia does not differentiate between the legitimate Russian peacekeeping troops in Transnistria, under the OSCE mission, and the illegitimate Russia troops (GOTR – the Operative Group of Russian Troops) stationed since the fall of the communism for protecting ammunition and military equipment inherited from the communist era.