Moldova remains in a geopolitical limbo after elections
Moldovans went to the polls to elect a new parliament this Sunday. The pro-Russian Socialist Party (PSRM) came on top with over 31 percent. The pro-European ACUM coalition is trailing with nearly 27 percent and the ruling Democratic Party (PDM) received over 23 percent.
The results came after a rough campaign marred by populism, fraud allegations, fake accounts linked to government employees and an alleged attempt at poisoning of the ACUM candidates. According to the international observation mission, the voting itself was generally well-run despite allegations of pressure on public employees, strong indications of vote buying and the misuse of state resources.
No party received a clear majority, leaving Moldova in political limbo. ACUM leader Maia Sandu has pledged not to enter into a coalition with the Socialists nor the Democrats, leaving the other two parties to negotiate the future government or choose snap elections.
Socialists are seen as a pro-Russian party whose former leader and incumbent president Dodon has expressed his intention of cancelling the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. On the other hand, Democrats are de facto led by Vladimir Plahotniuc, Moldova’s richest oligarch.
The elections were portrayed as an important geopolitical moment for Moldova as it could finally decide whether its path will lead towards Europe or Russia. However, with no conclusive winner, Moldova looks to remain in an uncertain position between the EU and Russia without a prospect of closer cooperation with the EU.
Fundamental rights generally respected in competitive #Moldova #elections, though campaign tainted by violations, international observers say➡️https://t.co/FVCUKlhd5W ?? #Alegeri2019 #Moldova2019 pic.twitter.com/VO5R1G3wdR
— OSCE/ODIHR (@osce_odihr) February 25, 2019
While foreigners tend to look at the broader geopolitical situation development, Moldovans keep migrating to EU and Russia at large amidst poor economic situation and omnipresent corruption.
Tensions rising in Kashmir
The conflict between India and Pakistan is peaking once again over the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 40 Indian paramilitaries in the disputed Kashmir region on 14 February. Potential conflict escalation could have unforeseen consequences since both countries are nuclear powers.
Everything you need to know about the conflict in Kashmir. pic.twitter.com/2IOuCxoozV
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 26, 2019
A terrorist group of Jaish-e-Mohammed officially claimed the responsibility for the attack. The main goal of the group is to merge Kashmir region with Pakistan. The group also operates from Pakistan and has ties to the Pakistani secret services; therefore, India blames the Pakistani government.
While the motives and the ties of the group to the Pakistani regime are clear, its non-state-actor status makes it hard for India to mount any military response against the group without provoking Pakistan. However, Indian PM Modi threatened Pakistan it will pay “heavy price” for the attack. He is under great pressure with the April parliamentary elections approaching in India.
India chose to tackle the challenge by the threatening to cut the water flow of the Indus river and its tributaries to Pakistan via the existing dam network. So far, the use of water from the rivers was regulated by a longstanding treaty. This, however, may soon change.
On 26 February, India conducted its first aerial bombing across the ceasefire line. The Pakistani authorities claim there were no casualties or damage after the bombing. Pakistan conducted its own airstrikes over the ceasefire line and claimed to have shot down two Indian jets.
Protesters took over the streets of the Western Balkans
Following the pattern of the past weeks, thousands of Serbs marched through the streets of Belgrade on 23 February. Citizens attending the 12th anti-government protest wore medical masks to point out the country’s poor healthcare and to mock President Aleksandar Vučić, whose recently published photograph with a hospitalized child was bitterly criticized and called a cynical political gesture.
The slogan “1 in 5 million” has dominated the campaign since the President proclaimed that he would not meet the public conditions “even if there were 5 million people in the streets.” The protesters demand the resignation of President Vučić and the government led by his Serbian Progressive Party.
The upheavals have roots in the broken system characterized by attacks on the opposition, expanding control of media, deficiencies in the social and legal justice, and general violations of the democratic values. In its newest report, the organisation Freedom House has downgraded Serbia from “Free” to “Partly Free.”
On 21 February, demonstrations organized by the opposition leader Luzim Basha were also held in Tirana, the capital of Albania. The first event that was expected to run viciously ended peacefully. The organisers deceived the police units by creating a cordon to separate the protesters. Albanians expressed their disapproval with corruption scandals of Prime Minister Edi Rama, which resulted in a collective resignation of opposition MPs in order to call for new elections. The EU, however, condemned their move, seeing it as “undermining the basic principles of democracy.”
Three months after #1od5miliona anti-govt protests began in Serbia, tens of thousands will take to the streets again tonight in cities and towns across the country.
Join us at 6pm for live coverage from Belgrade.
Key facts of the protests: https://t.co/TD7QML27rV pic.twitter.com/twjhJh0A4h
— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) February 23, 2019
Finally, along with the Serbian events, Montenegrin activists backed by opposition parties waged for the resignation of President Milo Đukanović’s and other state officials. The country’s long-time leader is blamed for systematic corruption, social poverty, toughened media censorship, and overall loss of human rights. The President has been denying all accusations, despite some documents recently revealed obtaining questionable funds for his ruling party.
Cover image source: Indian border security forces at the Wagah border with Pakistan| Wikimedia Commons / Giridhar Appaji Nag Y
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a bi-weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into a broader context.
Responsible editor Ondřej Zacha
Organisation: Matej Spišák
Authors: Jan Fridrichovský, Luboš Přikryl, and Kristína Urbanová
The text has not undergone language revision.