In an exclusive interview with POLITICO, Moldova’s Foreign Minister, Nicu Popescu, asserted that his nation deserves a clear path to EU accession, despite the presence of Russian troops on its soil. Moldova is determined to become the European Union’s newest member and is pushing for this goal when Brussels reveals its upcoming expansion plans next month. Popescu emphasized that his country’s EU aspirations should not be held hostage to Moscow’s support for the breakaway region of Transnistria, which has caused security, economic, and border control challenges for Moldova.
Popescu argued that Moldova’s government-controlled territory in Chişinău can join the EU independently of the situation in Transnistria. He emphasized that divided countries within the EU are undesirable, and Moldova is committed to avoiding geopolitical manipulation and separatist conflicts. Moldova’s diplomats in Brussels will present a position paper to the Commission, highlighting their efforts to integrate the country into the European family of nations and initiate self-screening to identify legislative needs for expected accession talks.
Moldova’s pro-European President, Maia Sandu, has criticized Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine and emphasized the need to break historically close ties with Moscow. The EU has provided substantial financial support to help Moldova reduce its reliance on Russian energy and has deployed a civilian mission to address potential security concerns. Polls indicate strong support among Moldovan citizens for joining the EU, and many already hold EU passports, thanks to family ties with neighboring Romania.
While EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, suggested that Moldova’s situation is not unique and cited the precedent of Cyprus with territorial issues, Romania’s Siegfried Mureșan, chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Moldova, expressed the need to resolve the Transnistria conflict before Moldova’s EU membership.
The EU is set to provide an update on its enlargement plans in October, with Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia facing Russian occupation of some of their territory. Given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the willingness of EU countries to support Moldova’s European aspirations remains uncertain.