Moldova embassy move announcement less than meets the eye

Moldova is currently in the grips of a political crisis, with two different blocs claiming to be the authentic representative government.

June 13, 2019 04:19
2 minute read.
Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova

Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova. (photo credit: GLEB GARANICH / REUTERS)

A day after one of the two dueling governments in Moldova announced that it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel had nothing to say about the matter, a sign that it saw the declaration as little more than posturing for US backing by one of the two sides in a crippling domestic battle in the capital Chisinau, also known as Kishinev.

Moldova is currently in the grips of a political crisis, with two different blocs claiming to be the authentic representative government. This situation followed an inconclusive election some four months ago, which seemed to come to an end on Saturday when the parliament approved a coalition government between a pro-Russian Socialist party and a pro-EU faction.

This coalition would unseat the Democratic Party (PD) affiliated with an oligarch named Vladimir Plahotnuiuc. The country’s Constitutional Court refused to approve the coalition and called for elections in September. The court also relieved president Igor Dodon of office, and appointed in his stead a former prime minister, Pavel Filip, of the PD. Dodon has refused to step down, and has been supported by an unlikely coalition of countries, including Russia and the US.

Against this background, Filip’s government on Tuesday announced that it approved the transfer of the Moldovan Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. This, Filip said in a tweet, “was a long overdue commitment to support our allies.”

The government also announced that it approved the sale of land where a former stadium in Chisinau stood to the US for a new embassy. Dodon, viewed as pro-Russian, blocked the sale, questioning why – according to a Radio Free Europe report – the US needed such a large facility while Russia had only a fraction of the land for its embassy. The US has sought land for a new embassy in Moldova for nearly a decade.

Explaining both the embassy move and the approval of the land sale for the US embassy, Filip’s government issued a statement saying: “We are in a situation in which we have to approve these decisions in an urgent manner, given the political instability and uncertainty in the country, as one of the political parties has always been blocking these two important decisions while trying to take over the power illegally.”

While Israel had no reaction to the announcement of the embassy move, viewing it as little more than the results of internal tussles taking place in the country, the PLO condemned the announced step.

A statement put out by the PLO Executive Committee said that the “unlawful decision” is “an act of unreserved hostility against the Palestinian people and their rights, as well as the letter and spirit of international law, the UN Charter, and relevant UN resolutions.”

The European Union, the statement said, “should halt Moldova’s political and economic integration until the latter rescinds its illegal and provocative action, and realigns its policy with international law and the collective EU position regarding the Palestinian question. States that choose to adopt such illegitimate and unilateral decisions are complicit in Israeli crimes, and bear the political and legal consequences of such measures. They must be treated as the rogue states they are.”

The US moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, followed by Guatemala. Australia, the Czech Republic and Hungary have variously opened trade, cultural and defense offices in the capital.

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