Moldova’s President Maia Sandu has nominated her security advisor and secretary of the national security council, Dorin Recean, to head the government as the new prime minister.
Sandu made the appointment after Natalia Gavrilita announced her resignation on February 10 after one and a half years in office. The change of prime minister came shortly after Ukrainian officials warned of a plot to destabilise Moldova. The replacement also addresses public disappointment about the slow progress of reforms in key areas such as justice and the deterioration in the standard of living amid high inflation.
Sandu is expected to become more actively involved in governing the country after Recean’s appointment.
Gavrilita announced her resignation following a meeting held by Sandu with members of the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), which holds a robust majority in parliament. The transition to the new government will most likely be smooth. Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said that most of the ministers will keep their seats.
Gavrilita has not detailed the reasons for her resignation: she only implied that she enjoyed more support from the country’s foreign partners than internally — but avoided pointing fingers. Rumours about factions within the pro-EU PAS have been circulating for some time.
Sandu has not openly criticised Gavrilita, but remarks about the government’s activity that “could have been better”, voiced since last October, heralded the managed replacement of the head of the cabinet.
“We agreed, as a team, that a reset is needed to provide more discipline and an emphasis on security and the economy,” explained PAS MP Radu Marian.
Marian added that the executive should be able to deliver a more immediate response to the security challenges in the region.
Gavrilita’s replacement, Recean, is known for his terms in the cabinets of Vlad Filat and Iurie Leanca during 2012-2014 when he restructured the interior ministry. After that, he moved into the private sector, until he was appointed as presidential adviser in February 2022.
Previously, he studied economics and had an academic career at the Academy of Economica in Chisinau before becoming interior minister.
Moldova’s stability at risk
A couple of days earlier, Ukraine passed to Moldovan officials a document allegedly leaked from Russia about a detailed plan to undermine political stability in Moldova.
A day after the replacement of the prime minister in Moldova, a Russian missile again crossed the country’s airspace. The missile did not just touch Moldova’s territory, like the previous ones, but crossed it and reached within 35km of the Romanian border.
Moldovan officials have talked of the need to develop defence and particularly air defence capabilities, but at present Moldova is unable to respond militarily to such events.
“We have decided that now is the time for a government reset, in the context of the very complicated security situation. These days I see the statements of [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy. We are also aware of the existence of criminal groups, which try to undermine the state of the Republic of Moldova through several methods. These challenges require an immediate response and the new government must be formed quickly, to start functioning quickly," stated Marian told ProTV.
The PAS MP also criticised Gavrilita’s cabinet for the lack of "discipline and prioritisation of the problems arising in Moldova".
"There is a greater need for prioritisation and discipline in all government actions. We are on the verge of war. Also, in 2023 we want to give more priority to topics related to the economy and economic growth. We must return to growth," said Marian.