Moldova’s former interior minister, Dorin Recean, is expected to be approved as the country’s new prime minister by parliament as soon as this week, following the February 10 resignation of Natalia Gavrilita.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu nominated Recean to the post after Gavrilita stepped down after a year-and-a-half in office. Recean is Sandu’s defense and security adviser.
Recean, 48, who served as interior minister from 2012 to 2015, will have 15 days to form a new government to present to parliament for a confidence vote. Moldova’s ruling party, the Party of Action and Solidarity, has a 63 percent majority of parliamentary seats.
The deputy speaker of the parliament, Mihai Popșoi, told VOA that Moldova’s leadership would like to have a transition that is as smooth as possible, given the security situation in the region.
Artur Maja, the secretary general of the PAS, said the change in the government had been planned for a long time.
“It is a planned and controlled transition from a pro-European government to another,” Maja told VOA. “The main objectives of the new government are strengthening the security sector, reviving the economy, and building resilience in the face of the brutal war of Russia against Ukraine.”
The new team, he said, led by the Recean “will continue to focus on the EU accession, necessary reforms on the national level, and our country’s increased contribution to the regional security.”
Iulian Groza, executive director of the Moldova-based Institute for European Policies and Reforms, said, “Last year, there were several discussions not only with the public but across the political spectrum about the need to re-energizing the government.”
“Gavrilita’s government has done a tremendous job in terms of managing the crisis that Moldova was hit with, the economic and energy crisis, and of course, the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine. The government managed to start some systemic reforms,” Groza told VOA; however, he emphasized the changes were needed, and the Moldovan leadership was looking for the right time to go ahead with the replacement.
President Sandu thanked former Prime Minister Gavrilita on Friday for her “enormous sacrifice and efforts to lead the country in a time of so many crises.”
She added, “I know we need unity and a lot of work to get through the difficult period we are facing. The difficulties of 2022 postponed some of our plans, but they did not stop us.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of last year had a tremendous impact on Moldova. Gavrilita said that no one expected her government “would have to manage so many crises caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
“I took over the government with an anti-corruption, pro-development and pro-European mandate,” Gavrilita said. “We were immediately faced with energy blackmail, and those who did this hoped we would give in.”
A member of the Moldovan parliament, Sinchevici Eugeniu, told VOA that the change in the Moldovan government Friday reflects the need for fresh defense measures in the country.
“We need to put a big focus on security in our government, which was one of the factors that motivated us to change the government,” Eugeniu said, pointing to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent comments on state-owned Russian news network TASS that the actions of Western nations could soon turn Moldova into the “next Ukraine.”
The country is focused on maintaining order internally, especially at a time when Russia is trying to destabilize Moldova,” Eugeniu said.
He added that Russia “can destabilize situation from inside. They have a lot of Russian agents undercover as representatives of different, especially pro-Russian political structures in Moldova, and they are now putting a lot of money for the destabilization from inside.”
Recean told his colleagues that as prime minister, his main focus would be to introduce “order and discipline” in Moldova’s institutions, breathe new life into the economy, and ensure peace and stability.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the Moldovan pro-Western leadership has been working to establish closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, was granted European Union candidate status on the same day as Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ability to defend itself is particularly important for Moldova. “As long as Ukraine stands strong, we stand with them, and we want to encourage other countries to help Ukraine as much as possible,” said Eugeniu.