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Moldova: Pro-Western government collapses amid crises

February 10, 2023

The government in Chisinau has fallen after a year and a half in office, amid inflation and energy security concerns. The war in neighboring Ukraine has also taken its toll on the small nation.

Moldovan ex-Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita announcing her resignation
The pro-EU prime minister has resigned amid ongoing protestsImage: Elena Covalenco /DW

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita stepped down from her position on Friday citing a lack of support in the former Soviet Republic.

The pro-Western government had been in power for just 18 months, during a period dominated by the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Moldova's President Maia Sandu accepted Gavrilita's resignation and said she would talk with parliamentary groups about a possible replacement.

"Thank you so much for your enormous sacrifice and efforts to lead the country in a time of so many crises," Sandu wrote on Facebook.

According to Moldovan and Romanian media, Sandu nominated Dorin Recean, her pro-Western former defense minister, for the role of prime minister.

Chisinau's push for EU accession

Gavrilita's pro-European Party of Action and Solidarity won a majority in elections in August 2021. Along with Sandu, she pushed for accession into the EU — the country was given candidate status last year.

The government had been planning a series of reforms in line with EU accession to speed up the process while also seeking to diversify the country's energy supply and reduce its dependence on Russia.

Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but a thin stretch of the country along the Ukrainian border, known as Transnistria, has continued to hold close ties with Moscow and claims autonomy from Chisinau.

Russian troops are also present in the separatist region, giving weight to the direct and indirect threats made by Russian officials.

Moldova fears a winter without Russian gas

Moldova's numerous crises

Moldova has been hit by a myriad of problems, including skyrocketing inflation, energy insecurity, and large numbers of Ukrainian refugees crossing into the country.

The threats posed by the war in neighboring Ukraine were made evident on Friday when a Russian missile flew through Moldovan airspace.

The government has also faced widespread protests, organized by the party of pro-Moscow politician in exile Ilan Shor. Chisinau has claimed the protests were backed by the Kremlin to destabilize the pro-Western government.

"I took over the government with an anti-corruption, pro-development and pro-European mandate at a time when corruption schemes had captured all the institutions and the oligarchs felt untouchable," Gavrilita said in her resignation statement. "We were immediately faced with energy blackmail, and those who did this hoped that we would give in."

"In spite of unprecedented challenges, the country was governed responsibly, with a lot of attention and dedicated work. We have stability, peace and development — where others wanted war and bankruptcy," she added.

ab/jcg (Reuters, AP)