When Goliath Meets Goliath: How Russia and the EU Created the Vicious Circle of Instability in Moldova
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Moldova (like most of the post-Soviet countries) suffers from state capture, endemic corruption and a lack of prosperity. This article examines the policies of the EU and Russia in Moldova and in particular how they have contributed to the dysfunctional institutions, political instability and social unrest that have become a permanent feature in the country’s development. Comparing Russia’s and the EU’s policies on the eve of and after the Parliamentary elections in Moldova of 2014, it argues that Russian and EU policies in Moldova are similar in their strategies. They both focus on creating a support base for their vision of Moldova’s future among local elites and both thereby become involved in domestic politics. The winners are the domestic elites that use external assistance to maintain existing structures and institutions that support an inefficient state which continues to extract rents and through which they manage to stay in power. A consequence of the preservation of inefficient state structures and mechanisms is the uneven distribution of power and resources, flourishing corruption and the impoverishment of the population. The elite-oriented policies of both Russia and the EU reinforce, rather than improve, the status quo in Moldova and contribute thereby to greater domestic instability, prevent substantial economic growth and increase existing social problems in the country.