Moldova Urges Quick EU Membership Amid Fears of Russian Threat

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Moldova is pushing for EU membership as a safeguard against the looming threat from Russia and hopes to begin negotiations in the coming months, according to President Maia Sandu. In an interview with AFP, Sandu emphasized that joining the European Union is vital for protecting Moldova's democracy. The nation, with a population of 2.6 million, is situated between EU member Romania and war-torn Ukraine and already faces challenges from its breakaway region, Transnistria, where Russia has stationed troops.

Sandu expressed concerns about the ongoing instability caused by Russia and stressed the need for protection by aligning with the EU. While acknowledging that the situation in Ukraine is far more severe, she emphasized that Moldova sees the risks and believes that EU membership is the best way to save their democracy. Sandu, who took office in 2020, accused Russia in February of attempting to orchestrate a coup in Moldova.

Public opinion polls indicate strong support among Moldovans for joining the European Union. Sandu has called for a pro-EU rally to demonstrate the nation's commitment to European integration. She emphasized that the conflict in Ukraine has made it evident that there is a stark contrast between the free world and the authoritarian world.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has increased the prospects of EU membership for both Ukraine and Moldova. Last year, both countries applied to join the EU and became candidate countries in June 2022, along with Georgia. Sandu expressed optimism about the realistic possibility of EU membership for Moldova and expressed a desire to see it happen as soon as possible. However, she acknowledged that the process could take a decade or more due to the stringent requirements and reforms necessary for integration.

Moldova, unlike Ukraine, is relatively small and could be integrated into the EU more easily. However, it still faces significant challenges, such as improving democratic standards and combating corruption. The country's fragile economy, energy security, and the issue of Transnistria, with its pro-Russian population, also need to be addressed. Transnistria, which emerged in 1990 as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, remains unrecognized by the international community and is a source of conflict in the region.

Sandu stressed the importance of finding a peaceful resolution to the Transnistria conflict and called on Russia to withdraw its troops illegally stationed in the region. She highlighted the need for a geopolitical opportunity to resolve the conflict and expressed Moldova's commitment to cooperating only with democratic countries that respect international rules and territorial integrity.

Regarding its neutrality, Moldova is not currently reconsidering its stance, although discussions are taking place within society. Sandu stated that Moldova is working to strengthen its defense sector and is relying on support from its friends, particularly the participating countries of the European Political Community.

The upcoming summit in Chisinau on June 1 will be a significant event for Moldova, as it will demonstrate the nation's international support and highlight the unity among friends in the European Political Community.

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