On 11th of October 2017, Foreign Policy Association launched a pilot initiative to create a platform for discussion on the topic of regional and international security. The topic of the event was “The Republic of Moldova’s contribution to regional and international security: participation of the National Army in the military exercises”.
The scope of the round table was to involve experts from the public sector, civil society, academia and the development partners in discussions on the dynamics and developments in the Moldova defense sector.
The pilot initiative’ opening session was held under Chatham House rules and focused on the role of decision-makers in overseeing the participation of the Moldovan Armed Forces in international military exercises. The participant to the roundtable included security experts from civil society and representatives from security-related ministries. The discussions covered internal factors and took into consideration the larger regional and international context.
The experts discussed the Republic of Moldova’s commitment to participate in international operations and peacekeeping missions under the UN, OSCE, EU and NATO mandate, a topic of particular importance in the context of recent President’s interdiction for the Armed Forces to participate in military exercises. Another subject of debate was the troop’s preparedness level and their cooperation with Euro-Atlantic partners. The participants concurred that there needs to be more internal cohesion when it comes to the investment in developing the Armed Forces capacity, especially when the level of equipment and readiness of the National Army is only 1/3 of the Russian special troops deployed illegally in Transnistrian region without the Republic of Moldova’s consent.
Finally, the invited experts spoke about the modest budget of the Armed Forces which varies between 0.3-0.5% of GDP, barely covering the operational needs. The defense expenditure for 2017 allocating 71.8% for the staff maintenance, 28% for technical and military supplies and 0.2% for the infrastructure renovation. The procurement of new equipment, investment in research and development, and social support for the military is not on the current agenda of decision makers in Moldova.
In a comparative perspective, Moldova invests by far the least of all Eastern Partnership countries. The current defense budget of 0.4% of GDP or 7$ per capita annually is almost 5 times lower than in Georgia (2.6% of GDP or 33$ per capita), 11 times lower than Ukraine (4.6% of GDP or 77$ per capita), not to mention countries like Azerbaijan (4% of GDP or 139$ per capita), Armenia (4% of GDP or 142$ per capita), Belarus (1.3% of GDP or 150$ per capita) and Russian Federation (5.3% of GDP or 483$ per capita. Therefore, the Moldova defense sector can be considered the “Cinderella” of financial allocation not only in regional but also in global perspective.