Moldova: the march towards Europe

Interview with Emil Druc Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Lithuania

A shifting geopolitical center of gravity

The geopolitical centre of gravity is clearly shifting, there are several signs showing a favourable trend. If we cannot say that the gravity of geopolitics has shifted to Moldova, we can talk about a move towards the region of South-Eastern Europe, which encompasses a much wider geographical area.

As for Moldova, the first symptoms of this shift manifested themselves through several movements: EU’s political decision to grant it the EU candidate status; initiative of the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Romania to set up a Support Platform for Moldova; EU member states’ accord to convene the 2d European Political Community summit in Chisinau; several statements of support by the European Parliament, by leaders of the European institutions, in accordance to which « the future of the Republic of Moldova is in our Union« , as stated by Ursula von der Leyen in her 2023 State of the Union address.

Unfortunately, this pro-Southeast Europe move was spawned by the bloody war against the Ukraine launched by the putinist Russia. Two circumstances played a decisive role in the European advancement of Moldova: the outstanding way in which it managed the massive flow of refugees from Ukraine and the clear pro-European political message of Moldova’s leadership, embodied by a democratically elected president, of whom we are proud, a combative parliamentary majority and a self-motivated government team. Such a pro-European political conjuncture on the board of Moldovan politics is to be observed for the first time since the country’s independence.

Of course, the trend of south-eastward shifting of geopolitics is a favourable one, but this does not mean it is nailed down. It will be considered sealed in mid-December if a positive decision on the start of negotiations is taken by the EUCO, based on the European Commission’s recommendations. Meanwhile, Moldova is working hard to faithfully fulfil the nine recommendations/conditionalities formulated by the Council.

The road to European integration

For geopolitical reasons, EU enlargement is high on the political agenda”, said the “Group of Twelve”, a joint France-Germany’s experts team on EU institutional reforms. Indeed, the positions of France and Europe are clearly moving towards European integration. We could even point out that the move started with the President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Kyiv in June 2022, along with his counterparts from Germany, Italy, and Romania that paved the way for the EU’s historic decision to grant candidacy status to Ukraine and Moldova. This was followed by his statement at the GLOBSEC security forum in Bratislava earlier this year saying, « The question for us is not whether we should enlarge… but rather how we should do it« , which can also be considered as a sign of the move of the country’s position towards European integration. Even if a year before that, France had announced the start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, as one of the priorities of the French EU presidency, at that time it could not be perceived as an opening of the country to EU enlargement. In Bratislava contrariwise, such a statement, made against the background of the war in Ukraine, sounded much more realistic. The Europeans themselves are no longer as reluctant to the EU enlargement as they were before the war. An IFOP poll for the Jean Jaurès Foundation some year ago revealed an increased support for Ukrainians in France and Germany showing that six respondents out of ten were in favor of the Ukrainian candidacy for entry into the European Union.

Together with Germany, France has traditionally been considered as the engine of European integration having played a key role in the adoption of most of the vital EU tools and mechanisms. However, before the tectonic geopolitical movements set in motion by the Russia’s war against Ukraine, France’s primary objective was targeting the European construction from within the EU, in the format of old Europe. The war introduced a new element to the reasoning, namely that the EU’s power can be increased with the EU’s enlargement towards Ukraine and other Southeast European states, including the small ones. Even if the military weight of the countries like Moldova and Georgia is rather modest, they can have their voice heard in the concert of greater Europe. Indeed, what would be more useful for the European security: let these small countries remain in a dangerous limbo, as a jumping-off ground for the Russian troops, or to bring them into EU? Today the answer seems to be unequivocal, but it did not seem so before the war.

Towards an enlarged, more powerful Europe

The expected result of this process is an expanded, robust EU, capable of facing the growing challenges at the continental and global level. In my opinion, the enlargement of the EU will also extensively strengthen the Euro-Atlantic partnership project. The EU and NATO are mutually essential partners for each other, sharing the same values and facing the same threats and challenges. The two bodies have 22 member countries in common and with the expected new enlargement of the EU this number will expand to 26, to which other 7 participants to the NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme (Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Ireland, Moldova, Sweden, Ukraine) should be added. Therefore, in the new geopolitical environment, we would like the EU and NATO to strengthen further their cooperation and continue to play their complementary and reciprocally reinforcing roles in ensuring security, peace, and stability for the benefit of the entire Euro-Atlantic community. I am proud Moldova has over the years put its shoulder to several EU, NATO/UN missions and peacekeeping operations, including KFOR, SFOR, UNMIL, UNMIK, EUCAP, EUBAM etc., as provider of security on the continent and well beyond.

In Bratislava, the French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his regrets for not always having taken into consideration the positions of countries from the young Europe. The President Macron’s affirmations “I think we also lost an opportunity to listen to you” and “This time is over” sound like a sign of “reconciliation” between the two Europes in front of the current common threats and dangers.