Friday

16th Nov 2018

Russian decision boosts Moldova's EU entry prospects

  • Supermarket in Transniestria: Moldova has zero prospect of entering the EU with Russian troops on its soil (Photo: EUobserver)

Russia has said it is ready to dismantle Cold War-era arms dumps in Moldova, raising the prospect of an end to the Transniestria conflict and boosting Moldova's chances of future EU accession.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made the offer on the three ammunitions depots located in the disputed Moldovan region of Transniestria during talks with Moldova's foreign minister Iurie Leanca in Moscow on Tuesday (29 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We see absolutely the same final aim: a special status for the Dniester area within the territorial integrity of the Moldovan Republic, a state with constitutional neutrality, which we regard as a substantial contribution to creating a new security architecture in the European continent," the Russian minister said, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

"Of course the sides themselves should agree on this, above all, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, as is proper for negotiating parties," he added, on the need for rebel leaders in Transniestria to negotiate a deal with Chisinau.

Lavrov's statement follows a meeting with EU diplomats in the Russian capital two weeks back in which he said Russia wants to start formal Transniestria conflict-settlement talks in June in the so-called 5+2 format.

The 5+2 group - which includes the Transniestria rebels, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, the Vienna-based pro-democracy body the OSCE, the EU and the US - are to hammer out the details of the June talks at a meeting in Vienna on Monday.

"This is a real breakthrough," a senior EU diplomat told this website.

Transniestria broke away from Moldova in a brief civil war in the 1990s. The unrecognised Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic has in previous talks failed to agree on how much power and what kind of semi-autonomous status it is to have in a new federal-type structure.

But an even bigger sticking-point has been what to do with the Russian military facilities and the 1,200-or-so Russian soldiers which guard them.

The EU has, for its part, torpedoed previous deals which envisaged letting the Russians stay indefinitely. It has also made clear that Moldova cannot enter the EU in its divided state following the negative experience of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot side pulled away from UN efforts to make peace with the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus after the divided island joined the union.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaking at an event in Chisinau on Tuesday promised to help steer Moldova into the EU.

"We are convinced that this [Moldova's EU accession] is in the interests of Moldova, Poland and all of Europe," he said, according to the Polish Press Agency. "You have showed that even in difficult circumstances and in difficult times you can go forward with your head held high."

"We are counting on progress here [on Transniestria]," he added. "We will help you with that."

The Moldovan leader, Vlad Filat, noted that "EU support is an enormous motivating factor" in terms of political reforms and the fight against corruption. "We will continue to act consequentially in terms of EU integration. We are a European country, we have a right to benefit from European values."

Tusk also said that the Polish presidency in late 2011 will work to see that post-Soviet countries are not forgotten in the EU's scramble to cope with crises in north Africa and the Middle East.

Neither leader spoke of prospective dates for Moldova's EU entry.

Leaving aside the small country's technical conformity with accession criteria, Western fears of a fresh influx of poor migrants and more general EU enlargement fatigue stand in Chisinau's way.

The coming-to-power of Filat's pro-EU coalition government following a revolution in 2009 marks one of the EU's few foreign policy successes in the post-Soviet region however, amid backsliding on democratic standards in Belarus, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

Opinion

Taking the Eastern Partnership further

Implementation of the stated objectives of the Eastern Partnership should be drastically accelerated, especially on freer trade and freer circulation of citizens, Moldova's prime minister writes.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us