A few days ago, Senator McCain was commemorated in Tbilisi. The legendary Senator McCain.
Usually, posterity does not resort to superlatives when some of the best people are gone. And yet, in the case of Senator McCain, his grip, his courage and moral integrity that have always characterized him, cannot be forgotten, not even by his enemies. At the edge of continental Europe, in Georgia, Senator McCain was often seen as a living synonym for the idea of resistance against the tyranny of oppressive regimes, as a man of his word. Senator McCain will be remembered and honored as one of Georgia’s most prominent defenders, a visionary state man, a man of strong beliefs for whom large states have a moral duty to defend freedom, to uphold democracy and integrity of those states that are threatened by Russian aggression.
The commemoration took place during a very special conference called „World in 2018: Upside Down?,” organized by the McCain International Leadership Institute of the Arizona State University and the EPRC for 4 years consecutively in Tbilisi, Georgia. Inspired by the cause that Senator John McCain has served a long time, the Institute that bears his name also acts as a non-partisan entity. Based on the promotion of action, it makes consistent efforts to advance security, economic opportunities, freedom and human dignity. These annual conferences of McCain Institute have in the meantime become the most important event devoted to global and regional security developments in the Caucasus, which is usually said that it cannot be ignored by any serious researcher.
At the opening of the event, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Managing Director of the McCain Institute, pointed out that 2018 marks 10 years since the end of the Russian-Georgian war and that the purpose of this regional conference under the patronage of Senator McCain is the best possible opportunity to involve regional security experts, relevant decision makers and politicians, civil society leaders and businessmen, meaning all those who matter in guiding the Georgian political elites to the best possible future. Among the special guests of the Conference dedicated to Senator McCain was also the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljurand, who addressed to the future President of Georgia (elections to be held in October 2018) that „any candidate in the highest position in the Georgian state has the obligation to strengthen cohesion in society, uniting all Georgians in the spirit of the strategic goal of making Georgia a viable, Western-minded and democratic state.”
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius urged the Georgian political elites and other nations returning to the “school of politics” this September to begin the new political year with the lessons that they have already learned, the first lesson being the one that the Euro-Atlantic unity is vital, exceptional and indestructible, being the litmus paper that has to show how strong we can be together. “In our neighbor regions”, Minister Linkevicius said, “it is clear that Russia is a super-issue and not a superpower, and that Europe still needs time, energy and resources to find the key with which it will also unravel, but there is a need for that attitude with which the political elites will do everything in order not to betray our common values, principles and commitments. ”
„Georgia will succeed if it speeds up vital reforms for its consolidation as a state, as a democratic nation, as a European, pluralistic, and freedom-loving society, which will surely lead to the defeat of its enemies and, maybe, above all, of the Russian President Vladimir Putin”, Wess Mitchell, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs said, stating that” Georgia’s success as a model of democracy is the concrete contribution of a strategic partner of the United States of America, as well as a crucial country for exports of hydrocarbons – which makes the Kremlin’s thesis that „Western-style democracy suffers a failure in all countries that are on Russia’s borders” ridiculous. State Secretary Wess Mitchell stressed that „the US partnership with Georgia is stronger than ever” and that „Georgia is a symbol of Western freedom and values”, because „Georgia has firmly opted for its democratic future for European integration and for NATO membership, which would strengthen its Western choice.”
I have to mention, on this occasion, that the direct references to the situation of the Republic of Moldova have echoed continuously from the lips of the main speakers, both from the American officials and our European friends. Many of those who have personally known Senator McCain know that he has also sympathized with the free citizens of the Republic of Moldova, with those who think and act in favor of the Westernization and the proximity of the Republic of Moldova to the Euro-Atlantic area. For that very reason, the leaders of the McCain Institute, as well as officials of the State Department, also addressed greetings to Moldova’s free citizens, the ones who are free from oligarchy and Soviet nostalgia. The main message was the firm call of all democratic forces to unity and the creation of pressure to pursue a Westernization option for the Republic of Moldova. Kleptocracy and democracy are antonyms, antithetic, impossible to be put under the same package. At the same time, democratic forces must prove their attachment to the Western world by uniting their forces against „Putin’s friends in the Republic of Moldova, in order to consolidate a state based on law, independent justice, a virtuous and inclusive state, and a democratic European culture.
Please note that, on 4-6 October, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, met with the PAS leader Maia Sandu at the Washington State Department headquarters to discuss the options the Republic of Moldova has in the face of existing pressures. In particular, the PAS leader briefed US diplomats on the increasingly obvious anti-democratic degradation of the current government, culminating in the invalidation of the results of the democratic elections in Chisinau, immediately after the controversial change in the electoral system, the repeated restraint of the fundamental rights of the citizens in the area of free association, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and independence of justice. „The state of democracy is under a permanent assault in our country,” the PAS leader concluded, drawing the US State Department’s attention to the fact that „the political instability and turbulence in the Republic of Moldova is the direct result of endemic corruption and of the turning of state power into oligarchy. The vision of the united democratic opposition is to offer a credible, virtuous alternative to all citizens of the Republic of Moldova, understanding that only by fighting for equal rights and a dignified life against the kleptocracy regime, we can be united and victorious in asserting democratic principles. ”
„The political repression against the democratic opposition reflects, at this moment, in the Republic of Moldova, the clear expression of a political regime agony that relies exclusively on fear and corruption, but also on an obsessive admiration for authoritarian leaders in the ex-Soviet space and beyond. Moldovan citizens want to live in a normal, prosperous and democratic state and will dethrone the current kleptocracy system as soon as they have the opportunity to do it”, Maia Sandu said during the discussion at the State Department. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell reiterated his message to political opposition, urging it „to continue the effort to re-bring the state onto a democratic way in which citizens would like to enjoy their freedoms and rights by developing their virtues on the path of euro-Atlantic integration. In particular, the US official reiterated the firm stance of the US to support Moldova’s strategic orientation to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic area and that „external support is given to citizens and not to governors.”
The PAS leader has also had substantial meetings at the US Congress, which included particularly vivid and productive talks with Congressmen Peter Olson, David Price, Bill Keating and Sen. Robert Menendez. Moldova counts to the US, has always been a leitmotif of Maia Sandu’s talks with the National Security Council (NSC), but also with USAID and Freedom House. The political leaders and officials of prestigious US Centers (International Center for Non-Violent Conflicts, International Center for Private Entrepreneurship, IRI, NDI) have encouraged the political leaders of the united opposition of the Republic of Moldova to fight for the fundamental values of democracy and the rule of law.
The original article, Upside Down, ori despre cum imunizăm democrațiile?, was published on September 14, 2018