(8 November, 2023 – CEPS, 1 Place du Congrès, 1000 Bruxelles)
- Nicu Popescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova
- Gert Jan Koopman, Director General, DG NEAR
- Tinatin Akhvlediani, research fellow, CEPS
After a short introduction, minister Popescu has mentioned his close connection to the place and the organiser CEPS, being a partner to the long process of Moldavia towards a possible future membership. He has added, that this day is especially important in this process as the European Commission has adopted its 2023 enlargement package, recommending to open negotiations with Moldova and being very favourable towards the country.
The minister has concluded, that Moldova has so far fulfilled six out of the nine earlier recommendations, and the three remaining ones are do not rest exclusively on the government. However, they do not want to waste no time with those as well. Concerning the policy chapters, he concluded that nine out of thirty-three is closed now.
He has also explained that similarly to other states, Moldova is also badly affected by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, but he added “Ukraine defends us”, expressing gratitude and admiration to the efforts made by Ukraine in defending not only herself but Europe as well, mentioning a special experience of “hybrid warfare” by Russia.
Concerning economy, he has reported that inflation has gone down to 8% and Moldova has made a serious effort to resist an “energy blackmail from Russia”, finally reaching the milestone result that by December they have consumed zero gas from Russia for heating purposes. The country’s constant development – as he put it – is constantly tested and verified by independent international actors. He has mentioned policy fields e.g. transparency, gender development and media freedom. He has also expressed gratitude for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the Eum which – according to him – has been an important help during the process.
On Moldova’s path to the EU, the state had to face various attempts of de-stabilization by Russia, which has been supporting protests, throwing stones into the local political system, mostly through Romania and oligarchs. He has also given examples, mentioning e.g. the use of pre-paid bank cards, in the value of 50 million Euros, according to estimates of the Moldovan intelligence services.
The minister has also given a short overview of the peacekeeping activities of his state, bringing the examples of Lebanon and Kosovo.
The representative of the European Commission, Gert Jan Koopman, director general of DG NEAR has also started with the importance of this day and of today’s decision related to the enlargement package. He has called this a “landmark moment” and mentioned that Moldova is welcome and praised the state’s performance, emphasising that roughly 94% of the accession process is completed now, and it is time to make the proposal to open accession negotiations. Related to the missing implementations, he has shown optimism, stating the those are on the way and he expects the process to be finished by next March. He added that the process with most of the states from the Balkans is not in such a good shape.
Concerning the tasks ahead, he has mentioned that the upcoming screening process is usually quite long, but there is the intention to conclude it as fast as possible. He added that now the most urgent task is to prepare the negotiation framework and the negotiating roadmaps, which are deemed to be priority tasks by the Commission.
During the questions section of the event, the issue of Transnistria has been raised which so far has been seemingly avoided by minister Popescu. He stressed that everybody involved wants a peaceful solution, this is something that both sides agree on: there is a strong commitment to handle the situation locally and peacefully, as he put it, they are to “bring them along with us”, as there is a strong general support to European integration, but according to our interpretation, this is to be taken as a strong message about the unity of the country.
Talking about this situation, he has used the opportunity to talk about the Russian “hybrid warfare” again, stressing that Moldovan experience with that is bit different than of other states: in their case it is not dominantly being waged by IT tools.
The event was concluded with some wines offered by the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova.