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News 27 Apr 17

Moldova’s President Bars Military from NATO Exercise

Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, who wants the country to be militarily neutral, said that the participation of 50 troops in a NATO exercise in Romania was “inappropriate”.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Moldova's President Igor Dodon with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Goettemoller. Photo: NATO.int

Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon has for a second time since the beginning of the year forbidden his country’s military to participate in a NATO exercise in Romania, presidency sources quoted by Moldovan media said on Thursday.

The presidency sources explained that Dodon believes the participation of the Moldovan troops is “inappropriate” and the Defence Ministry had been instructed to communicate his decision to the troops.

The Defence Ministry had pledged to send 50 troops to Romania’s Babadag base for the exercise, and had asked the presidency in Chisinau for approval.

NATO’s Platinum Eagle 17.2 exercise, which brings together contingents from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Montenegro, Ukraine and the United States, started on April 24 and will end on May 4.

It focuses on ammunition, first aid in combat and practicing command and control at the subunit level, according to the Romanian Defence Ministry, the host of the event.

In February, Dodon also refused to sign a presidential decree to approve the participation of Moldovan troops in a similar NATO event.

The president admitted this at a press conference after meeting NATO deputy secretary-general Rose Goettemoeller in mid-February.

The relations between the presidency and the Moldovan Defence Ministry have been tense since Dodon was sworn in.

Vice-minister of defence Gheorghe Galbura has been in charge of the institution since former minister Anatol Salaru was fired by a presidential decree in December.

But on Thursday, when Dodon came to the ministry for a Flag Day ceremony, Galbura did not show up.

Prime Minister Pavel Filip, the head of Moldova’s pro-European government, criticised Dodon at the end of March for his anti-NATO stance, saying that the refusal to allow troops in international military exercises can lead to a weakening of the army.

Dodon, a pro-Russian socialist, has had a clear anti-NATO stance, adamantly calling for Moldova’s neutrality.

He has called for a neutrality treaty with the alliance and opposes a plan for a NATO liaison office in Chisinau.

PM Filip signed a deal with the alliance in November 2016 to open the office and told NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting in Brussels at the end of March that the Information and Documentation Centre in Chisinau would be inaugurated by summer 2017, despite opposition from Dodon. 

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