Listen to this article Moldova Seeks Swift EU Membership Amid Concerns Over Russia
Moldova’s President, Maia Sandu, emphasizes her country’s pressing need for European Union (EU) membership as a crucial defense against the Russian threat. In an interview with AFP, Sandu highlights the hope for EU negotiations to commence in the coming months. Moldova, a small nation positioned between Romania and war-torn Ukraine, is set to host its inaugural major summit of wider Europe on June 1, aiming to strengthen its candidacy.
Protecting Against the Russian Threat
Sandu perceives EU membership as the sole safeguard against Moldova becoming Russia’s next target. Moldova, a former Soviet republic, already grapples with challenges in Transnistria, a breakaway region where Russia maintains a small troop presence. While acknowledging that the situation is not as severe as in Ukraine, Sandu asserts that aligning with the EU is vital for safeguarding Moldova’s democracy and mitigating potential instability originating from Russia.
Rallying for EU Membership
In February, the 50-year-old leader, who assumed office in 2020, accused Russia of orchestrating a coup to seize power in Moldova. She calls for a pro-EU rally to mobilize the overwhelming majority of Moldovans who support EU membership. Sandu emphasizes that the conflict in Ukraine has made the distinction between the free world and the authoritarian world starkly evident.
Strengthened Prospects of EU Membership
The ongoing war in Ukraine has bolstered the prospects of EU membership for both Ukraine and Moldova. Both countries applied for EU membership last year and became candidate countries in June 2022, alongside Georgia. Sandu believes that EU membership is a realistic project for Moldova and eagerly anticipates its realization. However, the path to membership may span a decade or more, considering the extensive requirements and standards that candidate countries must meet to integrate into the European single market.
Addressing Challenges and Resolving Transnistria Issue
While Moldova’s smaller size may facilitate relatively smoother EU integration compared to Ukraine, the country must address various challenges. These include enhancing democratic standards, combating corruption, and addressing economic fragility and energy security concerns. Furthermore, the situation in Transnistria, a region with a pro-Russian population unrecognized by the international community, requires resolution. Moldova is committed to pursuing a peaceful resolution and calls on Russia to withdraw its illegally stationed troops.
Commitment to Democratic Principles
Sandu emphasizes Moldova’s commitment to collaborating exclusively with democratic nations that respect territorial integrity and the international rules-based system. Moldova seeks relations with countries aligned with these principles while distancing itself from regimes that violate them, alluding to Russia’s actions in neighboring Ukraine. While Moldova currently maintains a neutral stance, Sandu acknowledges ongoing discussions within society regarding the effectiveness of neutrality and the potential for future changes.
Relying on Support from the European Political Community
Moreover Moldova relies on the support of its allies within the European Political Community, comprising participating countries. The upcoming summit in Chisnau on June 1 holds significant importance for Moldova as it reinforces the understanding that the country is not alone in its pursuit and enjoys the backing of numerous allies.
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