The other day I found a television station from the Republic of Moldova using the buttons on the remote control, and not only the topic of the discussion, but also the guest caught my attention. A gentleman with an articulate outfit, verb and speech – qualities that we see less and less when we talk about political actors, writes in an editorial Marina Constatinou published by editiadedimineata.ro
Despite his youth – I checked, he is 40 years old – Tudor Ulianovschi, the guest of the talk show, seemed to master important files of Moldovan and international current affairs. It would not be surprising – he has 17 years of active diplomacy and has climbed step by step in his diplomatic career (Attache,Secretary III, Secretary II, Secretary I, Counselor, head of Directorate, Charge of affairs, Ambassador, Deputy Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, but also Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration).
Coincidentally, on the same day I also read some press headlines about a possible new candidate for the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova. In the picture, Tudor Ulianovschi, the one I had watched with interest on a Moldovan television station.
It made me curious.
… he was one step away from becoming Director General of the World Trade Organization – one of the most important and complicated international organizations, being the youngest candidate in the history of international structures.
It was not a success, because he lacked support from its own country, but the participation in the competition and the top 3 positioning at the beginning of the international race by the American and European think-tanks, increased its visibility at the international level.
He was the only candidate among the eight, registered in this global race to be voted in from the first round by both the US and China. You have to be able to do that in order to win the trust of the two great superpowers, who by the way lead the world trade system.
His name, circulated in the context of the upcoming presidential elections
Lately, his name has been circulated in the context of the upcoming presidential elections where the current head of state, Maia Sandu, has so far announced his candidacy, and for which the leader of Our Party, Renato Usatîi, has expressed his interest.
Given the fact that we talk about a counter-candidate of a current head of state who has a good image in Europe and the United States, but who, inevitably failed in the exercise of power, sees less encouraging figures in the opinion and social polls, it is almost natural to be interested in some „presidential alternatives with big potential”.
I find Tudor Ulianovschi as a technocratic and apolitical former minister, that is, he did not become a member of any political party during his 17-year government activity, the only foreign minister that Chisinau had who was not educated or born in the Russian Federation, the others either were schooled in Moscow in same institutions as Serghei Lavrov, or they were born on the territory of the Russian Federation. After government work, he has successfully transitioned into international business, becoming an important figure in the business environment of Canada, the USA and Europe.
Now he is active in international business
He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the American Solar Energy Industries Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Renewable Energy Association, as well as a member of the American Business Association for Central and Eastern European States.
Since 2019, he is the senior vice-president of the Canadian-American company „Grasshopper Energy” in the field of green energy and vice-president of the „2050” Sustainable Infrastructure Fund. He constantly works with various investment funds and financial structures.
„A man like Tudor Ulianovschi, educated in Austria and the USA, a diplomat and a good negotiator, should have already been in the Administration/Government of Maia Sandu and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs, for example or why not, the Minister of Economy, Infrastructure and Investments „, consider some opinion leaders, well acquainted with the situation in the Republic of Moldova.
„A pro-European counter-candidate, fighting for the same electorate as Maia Sandu?” , a question that raises an eyebrow.
Those who circulate his name as a candidate for the Presidency let it be understood that it comes against the background of a disappointment among the electorate regarding the failure of the current government to fight corruption, reform the judiciary, stop the depopulation of the country, regarding lack of economic growth, etc. .
Among the main problems that are cited are the „dubious” increase in natural gas prices, now four times higher, but also the dubious contracts from the period of state of emergency in the country, signed by the Commission for Exceptional Situations, which did not organize tenders and selected companies in a non-transparent manner or the substantial increase in the salaries of ministers at the expense of the salaries of those who contributed to the educational and academic training of those who govern.
I find out the address and write him an email. And he accepts the dialogue.
… „I have a much more pragmatic vision for negotiations with the EU, I would not allow domestic producers to be disadvantaged in favor of large foreign corporations or the economic interests of other states. The WTO taught me to understand how big international actors fight to protect their own economic and commercial interests and made me believe that the economy is not politics or diplomacy, and that a small country like the Republic of Moldova can impose itself on the world stage only through a smart foreign policy and sound negotiations that benefit the national interest. In the context of insecurity in the region, it was necessary and long overdue to see a firm and much more affirmed foreign policy on a global level and not just regionally at the level of the European Union. A state’s foreign policy should not be limited only to regional cooperation such as joining the European Union, which is a priority, but inevitably this process will take several years and will largely depend on the level of economic development of the country and the modernization of all regions of the state. Strategically, it was long ago necessary to move from a passive neutrality to an active one”, answered Tudor Ulianovschi for editiadedimineata.ro .
In fact, as we have seen in the numerous television shows and press articles of late, Tudor Ulianovschi addresses exactly these topics of internal and external current affairs, making analyzes very often difficult to digest, harsh but realistic, and calling things as they are.
What electorate would he bet on
Basically, democracy and political pluralism mean the organization of free, fair elections that allow each candidate access to be elected. Indirectly, which means that the presentation of another candidate from the center-right, or perhaps even from the center-left, but certainly pro-European, cannot be excluded.
Current opinion polls show that 30-35% of the electorate is undecided or does not vote, if only the current candidates who are foreshadowed in the polls and the press remain. There is, therefore, a vacuum on the center-right side, but also in the center-left area where there would be Russian speakers who are not pro-Putin, and who are undecided. This electorate must be captured.
Several analysts and political experts from Chisinau appreciated the sudden return to the media space between Prut and Dniester of the diplomat Tudor Ulianovschi. „Considered an outstanding professional and diplomat, Ulianovschi is the only one who can compete with Maia Sandu on the external level and has enough relationships with international decision-makers who influence the power games in the region. The former head of Moldovan diplomacy is not a member of any Moldovan political formation, so he can benefit from the political support of several extra-parliamentary parties”, noted a political commentator from Chisinau recently.
A scene from the United Nations. With Lavrov as a bonus
„In the summer of 2018, while I was head of diplomacy in Chisinau, I managed to convince all the political factors in the country and the majority of countries in the world to support the first Resolution proposed by the Republic of Moldova at the UN regarding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Moldovan Transnistrian region. A resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly and promoted by me personally at the UN agenda, but also in the great chancelleries of the world, since this Resolution was co-sponsored by 15 other countries and was subject to debates in the plenary of the UN General Assembly. At that time, the diplomacy of the Russian Federation made considerable efforts behind the scenes to exclude this topic from the UN agenda, but I steered the ship of diplomacy of the Republic of Moldova in an intelligent manner, to prevent and counter through various diplomatic pirouettes these dubious moves of the Russian Federation, fighting to keep the subject on the UN agenda and its adoption with the vote of the majority of UN member states. After long hours of debates and speeches from the UN tribune, in the end, we won, and the next day Sergey Lavrov, the head of Russian diplomacy, calls me directly and says: Tudor Xenofontovici, you hit me hard under belt and you wrinkled the image of diplomacy of the Russian Federation at the UN in New York, exactly where I was ambassador for 10 years. I did not expect that a 35-year-old foreign minister of Moldova would beat me at the UN, but in the future I would prefer to address the problems only bilaterally, not multilaterally”, Tudor Ulianovschi tells us, recalling that important post-factum discussion with the head of diplomacy of the Russian Federation.
„He spoke to me in Russian, I translated for you what I will write someday in my diplomatic memoirs „, adds the former Foreign Minister. He has also revealed his answer to his Russian counterpart: „Serghei Victorivici, you are the soldier of your country, and I am the soldier of my country and nation. I think that, together with this scene from the UN and after assuming our post-UN commitments, we should decide on a concrete plan to evacuate the ammunition and weapons from Cobasna”. Discussions, calendar and evacuation plan were initially accepted by both sides, but unfortunately not carried out until now because in a few months the composition of the Government in Chisinau changed following the parliamentary elections in the spring of 2019.
What would he bring differently
Returning to my raised eyebrow of a possible candidacy to the competition with a pro-European, I wanted to find out what is different in Tudor Ulianovschi’s vision and how, concretely, he thinks he can offer solutions. Because, in the current situation, it depends enormously on how and who will really speed up the pro-European process.
„In the absence of an institutional memory, everything seems like a premiere, but let’s move from diplomacy to economics,” he says.
Being asked ” why not enough direct investments are attracted to the country’s economy ” , Ulianovschi spoke about the increased degree of unprofessionalism in the management of some relevant ministries, stating that when some potential foreign investors still arrive in Chisinau despite regional security risks , the Government does not present them with any feasibility studies or business plans developed by the state’s specialized agencies, because it does not have them and does not anticipate how it could convince foreign investors to invest in the economic climate of the Republic of Moldova.
The former head of diplomacy from Chisinau offered as an example the lack of a governmental „follow-up”, particularly following the visit to Chisinau of a delegation of businessmen from the United States in September 2022, at the initiative of the Business Association for Central and Eastern Europe from Washington. According to him, they intended to invest in areas such as infrastructure, IT, renewable energy, health, defense, etc.
„Unfortunately, none of the 12 companies has been able to invest in the Republic of Moldova, including the company where I have been active for the last five years, has not been able to come to the market of the Republic of Moldova for various reasons”, he said.
In his opinion, it is legally incorrect and lacks constructivism to talk about joining the community bloc without the territory on the left of the Dniester. According to the former head of diplomacy from Chisinau, the geopolitical context is favorable for the expansion of the European Union, and the authorities in Chisinau must do everything possible to capitalize on this opportunity.
„I also demonstrated at the UN that the Transnistrian region is part of the Republic of Moldova, which is from a constitutional point of view an integral and unitary state. Therefore, if we end up closing all 35 chapters for the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the European Union, I believe that the integration should be done together with the Transnistrian region. If, however, the Transnistrian settlement will be delayed, the Republic of Moldova must go forward on the European road, with the current separatist region coming into the constitutional field of the Republic of Moldova when the settlement process is completed. However, I hope, and the current country leadership is obliged to make all efforts, that the reunification with Transnistria is achieved until the end of the negotiations and the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the EU”, said the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. At the same time, the former head of Foreign Affairs from Chisinau stated, the negotiations with the EU must also include the Transnistrian region in order to make the EU attractive for the inhabitants of the left side of the Dniester.
He appreciates that the Republic of Moldova in the last two years has benefited externally ” and from the favorable geopolitical context in the region, unfortunately, generated by the war of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, which created the necessary premises for some „tectonic” movements of Brussels with regarding the future expansion of the European community space, but this historic decision was only possible thanks primarily to Romania’s diplomacy, which made an extraordinary effort for the Republic of Moldova in launching the EU accession process .
Will he become a candidate or not?
Well, he is a diplomat, negotiator, offensive, „sporty” enough to slalom among the hot current affairs, present in the sights of the local media in recent months.
Will he be a candidate or not? ” The question is good not only for Tudor Ulianovschi, but for all those citizens of the Republic of Moldova, including from the diaspora, who want to change things for the better in Moldova. I think I can contribute to this process too, but for now let’s be patient. Any rational politician does his calculations .”
The long discussion we had did not convince him to announce exclusively for www.editiadedimineata.ro his candidacy for the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova. He will do it, if he decides, at the time he considers appropriate. But he seems ready for this moment. Plus, on the Facebook page, the motto is „Quo non ascendam” (to what heights may I not rise)…
Photo: Tudor Ulianovschi, personal archive