The Munich Security Conference (MSC) held the second Munich Leaders Meeting (MLM) of the year in Bucharest. In cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MSC gathered around 75 high-ranking participants in the run-up to the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in the Romanian capital.
The main topics were the effects of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the security policy challenges in the region. On the fringes of the meeting, Deutsche Welle spoke to Natalia Gavrilita, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova.
DW: What are the three main risks for Moldova in the context of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine?
Natalia Gavrilita: First of all, the attack on the energy infrastructure in Ukraine. Due to these attacks, we have already had two power outages across the country: on November 15 and a week ago. Today we heard about new potential attacks, including on targets in the nearby Odessa region.
I think the risks related to energy security are the main risks we face – also because of the connection through Ukraine, because we don’t have a high-voltage line that can be connected to the Romanian system. We are working on it and hopefully we will have a common high-voltage line in 2024. Until then, we are very vulnerable.
DW: Projects of this kind have been delayed for years. What makes you think they are being implemented now?
There was no political will. We saw that the Iasi-Chisinau gas pipeline (from Romania to Moldova – editor’s note) only started operating last October, after we took over the government. That was after the first energy blackmail in 2021, but this pipeline is now also helping us gain access to alternative gas sources.
Unfortunately, although in 2019 we signed the contract for connection to the Romanian electricity grid via the Vulcanesti-Isaccea line, the financing of the high-voltage section to Chisinau has only just started (until completion, the line will pass through the separatist region of Transnistria – editor’s note .).
We are sure that all these projects will be implemented now because there is political will, because we understand that the diversification of energy sources is directly related to our security.
DW: To what extent can the internal unrest destabilize the situation in your country?
We are in the midst of a hybrid war with lots of misinformation, with oligarchs funding the protests and placed on international sanctions lists. We cannot say that against the background of rising prices and falling purchasing power, there is no dissatisfaction.
But what has been happening on the streets of Chisinau in recent weeks are provocations carried out with the support of foreign services.
DW: Do you think that Russia still has a strong influence to destabilize Moldova, or are there enough forces that support the course of the government in Chisinau?
First of all, we have a strong parliamentary majority – 63 seats out of 100 in Parliament. There is very good cooperation between the government, the presidency and the parliament. We are all aligned to the same European integration policy, to the same desire to anchor Moldova in the free world.
We have the mandate and the legitimacy that the citizens gave us, we have come for four years and are gradually creating order – and you can see that. We manage to maintain stability even under these very difficult conditions.
DW: Do you have any data on cyber attacks and other types of attacks launched by Russia against Moldova that we don’t see but are being felt in your country?
This year we had about 300 bomb alerts. Just this morning when we were about to fly to Bucharest, there was a bomb alarm on the plane we were about to take. We have new protocols to deal with these crisis situations.
We also had 200 cyber attacks, August’s being the strongest. Together with our partners, we are working to increase our defense capability to counter hybrid warfare.
We also face a hostile information environment: a lot of disinformation, a lot of Telegram channels or websites that are difficult to control even by countries with greater capacities than Moldova.
DW: In Moldova, a debate is being launched by Anatol Salaru, the former defense minister, who spoke of unification with Romania in the event of an attack on Moldova. Do you think that discussions on this topic currently make sense or are they more of a provocation?
At this moment we must maintain peace and stability in Moldova. We must recognize that we have a multi-ethnic society. Therefore, we must take a balanced approach during this period and ensure social cohesion.
Even if it is necessary to discuss the issues related to the global changes taking place and what they mean for us, we must take care of stability and social cohesion.
DW: What would be three very important things that you still need from Romania?
We need help with access to alternative energy sources, we need help to deal with the logistical crisis, which means increasing the capacity at the border – and, of course, financial help.
We know that Romania is already doing a lot for Moldova. We also saw Romania’s efforts to draw the international community’s attention to Moldova at this conference of MLM leaders (Munich Leaders Meeting in Bucharest – ed.). We will continue to work with the Romanian government – and together we will be successful.
Adaptation from the Romanian: Robert Schwartz
Author: Sabina Fati
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Originally published by Deutsche Welle.