Moldova has called on the European Union to approve its membership of the bloc “as soon as possible” due to what its Europhile government perceives to be an impending Russian threat to destabilize the country.
In an interview with the AFP news agency, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said she hopes Brussels will give the green light to begin negotiations “in the next months,” as the country seeks protection from Russia amid claims the Kremlin is seeking to encroach on its democracy.
“Nothing compares to what is happening in Ukraine, but we see the risks and we do believe that we can save our democracy only as part of the EU,” Sandu told AFP, warning that Russia would “continue to be a big source of instability in the years to come.”
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Moldova has sought to highlight its Western solidarity in recent times, condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine and opening its doors to more than 765,000 Ukrainian refugees while providing humanitarian support to the war-torn country. Sandu has even suggested the country’s constitutional commitment to neutrality could be revisited to better toe the Western European line in the ongoing conflict.
Despite historic cultural ties with Russia, Moldova’s current leadership is overwhelmingly pro-European and believes joining the European Union will help secure its national security; however, the country also features a pro-Russia opposition that has been protesting the government in the last year.
The country applied for membership in the EU in March 2022 and was granted EU candidate status in June, but there has been little movement for the impoverished country of just 2.6 million people since then.
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The country will have a chance to lobby for a fast-track accession process next month when it hosts the Second European Political Community (EPC) summit, with EU leaders and the bloc’s neighbors flying into its capital of Chișinău.
A key issue for Moldova’s pro-EU administration currently has been the country’s over-reliance on Russian gas. However, the country’s energy minister, Victor Parlicov, announced in March that the independent region of Moldova is no longer in receipt of Russian gas and is subsequently free from blackmail by the Kremlin, ticking another box in its bid to forge closer ties with Europe and the West.