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Moldovan President Calls EU Aid 'Geopolitical Assistance'

  • RFE/RL's Moldovan Service

CHISINAU -- Moldova's pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, has accused the European Union of providing "geopolitical assistance" to his country in order to keep a series of pro-EU governments in power in Chisinau.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Moldovan Service on May 17, Dodon said he had asked EU officials to freeze a proposed 100 million euro ($111 million) aid package for Moldova.

Dodon also said he welcomed a May 16 decision by the European Parliament to postpone for at least a month a vote on whether the EU aid package should be disbursed to Chisinau.

"Moldova has received massive support from our external partners, and I want to thank them for this," Dodon told RFE/RL. "But too often it was geopolitical assistance used not so much for the best of the Moldovan people, but for keeping in power a series of corrupt, oligarchic governments."

"This is why, when we got the news from our European partners [about the postponed vote in the European parliament] I said it is a pity for the Republic of Moldova, but unfortunately, most of the time this money, was used to prop up the government [of the Democratic Party and Prime Minister Pavel Filip]," Dodon said, adding, "I even told this to [Head of the EU Delegation to Moldova Pirkka] Tapiola."

"So if this freeze of aid will create problems for the government and lead to early [parliamentary] elections, it's all for the best. I want early elections."

Dodon insisted that the next general elections in Moldova, currently scheduled to take place in 2018, will lead to a parliamentary majority for his political allies in Moldova's pro-Russian Party of Socialists.

"We have to start getting used to feeding ourselves. Why was this possible from 2001 to 2007, and now it isn't anymore," he asked rhetorically, referring to the period which coincided mostly with the rule of Communist President Vladimir Voronin.

Other Aid Sources

Dodon also said he has already launched negotiations with other sources of foreign aid on annual financial support ranging from $500 million to $1 billion per year.

However, he refused to confirm whether those negotiations were being conducted with the Kremlin.

"Moldova needs external financing -- not to prop up the current government, but for infrastructure, and for improving the quality of life in the country," Dodon said. "You will see next year when the government changes after the early or normally scheduled parliamentary elections. Another majority will come [into parliament], and I promise you, we have already launched negotiations on this [foreign financial support]."

"You will see from where," he continued. "And not necessarily from the European Union and from the International Monetary Fund."

"There is money in the world," said Dodon, who has visited Moscow multiple times, both before and after coming to power in December. "There are partners. There are friends who are ready to help. And there will be enormous investments."

Earlier this month, Dodon's presence by the side of Russian President Vladimir during the May 9th parade in Moscow, raised eyebrows, as he was the only foreign head of state present at the ceremony.

Dodon has previously vowed to scrap an EU trade deal in favor of a rival Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, and has predicted such a turn away from Brussels and toward Moscow would be inevitable if the pro-Russian Socialists come to power through Moldova's next general elections.

The position echoes the sudden decision in 2013 by then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych not to sign an association agreement with the EU under pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin -- a decision that triggered the pro-Europe Maidan protests in Kyiv that eventually led to Yanukovych's ouster, Russia's annexation of Crimea, and its military intervention in eastern Ukraine.

When asked by RFE/RL about his pro-Russia positions, Dodon insisted he is "a pro-Moldovan president and this will not change."

"Yes, I have good strategic relations with Russia," Dodon told RFE/RL. "I admitted this openly. But I am not against good relations with the European Union and the United States."

"Who made a mistake? The West did," Dodon said. "Why do they play this geopolitical game that I do not want? They financed [corrupt Moldovan] governments during the last seven years because they were afraid of the Russian tanks."

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