Moldova Quo Vadis: Neutrality And European Integration? Problems Of Policy, by Igor Talcan
This thesis is an interesting one and it looks at the problem of Moldova’s troubled attempts to integrate with Europe over the past thirty years in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The author gives some pointed advice to Moldova and while it is unclear if anyone read or heeded the advice, the cynical and worldly-wise tone of the advice struck me as precisely the right way to go about it. Admittedly, I have little personal experience with Moldova, but the problem of the Russian near-abroad is one that I am intrigued in and I have visited Estonia and seen the way that a small nation can prove itself to be western enough to secure NATO and EU admission by firmly rejecting the overlordship of Russia and seeking the far more beneficial rule of Europe . The author clearly writes with an interest in supporting Moldova’s case for entering the European Union but he has some very critical things to say about the failures that Moldova has had in making its neutrality a credible one through strength and in seeking the assistance of the West when it would have been far easier for it to obtain.
This thesis is a bit more than 100 pages and begins with an introduction that discusses the case of Moldova and the EU view of neutrality and alignment (1). After that the author discusses neutrality as a national security strategy on the broad scope and then specifically looking at the case of Moldova in particular (2). After that the author discusses the compatibility of both neutrality and alignment with NATO as it relates to EU enlargement by looking at the cases of Austria and Latvia (3). The author then gives a grimly realistic look at the case for Moldova’s entry into the EU as it relates to EU goals and standards and Moldova’s experience post-independence with Russia (4). This leads to a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of both Austria and Latvia before accession and where Moldova stands relative to each (5). Finally the author gives some trenchant but very worthwhile recommendations for how Moldova can belatedly enter the EU by tilting its ambiguity in favor of the EU and NATO and obtaining their help by showing a commitment to Western norms and ways (6).
As a practical paper, this thesis gives Moldova some obvious lessons on what it would need to do to get onboard the “last train” to Europe. To be sure, Moldova has wasted a lot of time trimming its sails between Russia and Europe, with its weakness allowing Russia to exert a high degree of power over it. The author presents Moldova in a contrast with two nations that have successfully integrated with the EU in a way that Moldova has not. The first of these nations is Austria, a nation which has (like Moldova) made a commitment to neutrality, but one whose economic strength makes it attractive to the EU and which offers extensive peacekeeping services which manage to serve Europe’s overall security needs even if it does not have a combat-oriented military, neither of which are qualities that Moldova has in its favor. The other nation that the author compares Moldova with is Latvia, a small post-Soviet state which was not so far from Moldova when they both became independent from the Soviet Union. Latvia, though, made a firm commitment to join NATO to meet its security needs and send a clear signal that it wanted to be part of Europe and not Russia’s near abroad, and fulfilling the goals of NATO membership simultaneously demonstrated its fitness for belonging to the EU.
 See, for example: