Are Bulgaria and Moldova turning towards Moscow?

Candidates who are seen as pro-Russian won the presidential elections in both Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova on Sunday. The opposition candidate Rumen Radev won in Bulgaria - prompting Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to announce his resignation. In Moldova the election winner Igor Dodon has announced that his first trip as president will be to Moscow. The press is keeping a close eye on developments.

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Observador (PT) /

Brussels leaving the weak in the lurch

The bureaucrats in Brussels are to blame for the success of the pro-Russian candidates, Observador criticises:

“These victories are a sign that the EU is shrinking into a group of bureaucrats in Brussels who govern for themselves and a select few and leave the weakest member states to fend for themselves. … For several years Moldova had political leaders whose main goal in foreign policy was to move closer to the EU and Nato. But that wasn't enough to solve the country's huge social and economic problems. Bulgaria is already a member of the EU but it has similar problems. Brussels and the Brussels democracy make all kinds of promises to those knocking at the EU's door (not just Moldova but also Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine) but then they don't go a single step beyond that. … How long will this unreasonable stance last?”

Webcafé (BG) /

Don't lump Bulgaria and Moldova together

The online platform Webcafé takes issue with the fact that Bulgaria and Moldova are being tarred with the same brush after the presidential elections:

“Rumen Radev is an entirely different kettle of fish than Igor Dodon, who won the election with the promise that he would integrate Moldova into the Eurasian Economic Union in which Russia and its former satellite states have formed an alliance. Moldova belonged to the USSR until 1991 and 19 percent of its inhabitants are Russians. … Dodon wants to visit Moscow first. Radev has announced that his first visit will be to [one of Romania's leading corruption fighters] Monica Macovei to exchange insights on judicial reform. Incidentally, in a few months' time Bulgaria will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its accession to the EU and will even hold the rotating EU Council presidency in 2018. So much for all the clichés and prejudices, which are clearly not just a problem in Bulgarian journalism.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Small states ground up between East and West

Moldova and Bulgaria are victims of a new East-West conflict, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“The opposition camps in both countries with their left-wing populist, pro-Russian platforms have effectively harnessed the people's anger. Paradoxically, the reorientation towards Russia has been reinforced by demographic aspects of the ties to the West: the qualified and Europeanised section of the population is moving to the EU, leaving the old, the poor and the pro-Russian behind. For them the socialist era and dependence on Russia represent the stability and modest prosperity which the new presidents, the Moscow loyalist Igor Dodon in Moldova and the rakish former commander of the Bulgarian air force Rumen Radev, have promised. … But the dilemma of the smaller states is real. They are being ground up in the escalating conflict between East and West. The EU and the US would do well to take this seriously.”

NaTemat (PL) /

Putin rubbing his hands

The elections in Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova will give Moscow another boost, journalist Katarzyna Zuchowicz writes in her blog with naTemat:

“Almost a week after the US elections, Moscow has received another nice surprise. This time the voters in Bulgaria and Moldova have given Putin a special gift: pro-Russian presidents have taken power in both countries. 'Yet another victory for Putin', commentators rail. Because, they say, it is increasingly clear that the Europeans' love for the EU is fading. And Putin can easily benefit from these developments. Molodova is not in the EU, and what's more it's highly dependent on Russia, although pro-European forces seeking integration in the West have been in power there since 2009. ... But the process of integration has dragged on and the people have lost their patience with the EU. And there have been corruption scandals involving pro-European politicians. Moldova has simply had enough.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Voters didn't make pro-Russian choice

The outcomes of the presidential elections in Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova were pro-Russian only at first glance, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung observes:

“These votes were not primarily geopolitical decisions but rather protest votes against a political class that is perceived as corrupt. In terms of the political situation there are major differences between the two countries, but in both cases there is a clear pattern. In both countries the accusation of Moscow-orientation was used as a weapon again and again, to the point where all the ideas associated with it were damaged. This, however, is where the parallels end. In Moldova the pro-Russian victor is not just a Kremlin man but also a player for the local 'pro-Western' oligarchies, while Bulgaria's new president has clearly stated his commitment to the country's pro-Western course.”

Contributors (RO) /

The future of Moldova is European

Socialist Igor Dodon was elected as the new president of the Republic of Moldova on Sunday just over 52 percent of the vote. His pro-European rival Maia Sandu secured just under 48 percent. But she is nonetheless the real winner, political scientist Sorin Ionita stresses on the blog portal Contributors:

“In today's Europe no candidate or movement has started from scratch, without resources or access to the traditional media, and yet won 38 percent in the first round and 48 percent in the second. That shows that Moldovan voters have literally become more Western even if those voters don't form the majority yet. It shows that the rapprochement with the EU is working, that Chişinău's open-door policy vis-à vis the EU brings results, and that the future belongs to it. Provided the country can develop in peace, without out a political disaster being inflicted on it from abroad. Dodon won in Transnistria today, but Maia Sandu won the future, and she won in Europe.”