The relationship between the Republic of Moldova and Norway has significantly improved throughout this year, as confirmed by Norwegian Secretary of State Eivind Vad Petersson. He emphasized that the Moldovan-Norwegian relationship is at its highest level since Independence and is making constant progress. This is attributed to the diplomatic efforts of the President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, and Ambassador Liliana Gutan, who have worked intensively since their accreditation on January 19, 2023. A notable success was the inclusion of the Republic of Moldova in the NANSEN Program for Ukraine 2023-2027 with a historic budget of $7.5 billion over 5 years.
Through negotiations and meetings, Ambassador Liliana Gutan successfully persuaded the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February to include Moldova in the NANSEN program. Multiple working sessions were organized in Chisinau in March 2023 to raise awareness among decision-makers about the importance of NANSEN. A working committee was formed, comprising representatives from the Presidency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Finance. From March to August 2023, she facilitated multiple online sessions between Oslo and Chisinau to promote the assistance opportunity.
“Norway, which benefited from the global increase in energy prices, included the Republic of Moldova in a program called NANSEN, along with Ukraine. A massive program, with a total of $7.5 billion for both countries. Part of this money comes to the Republic of Moldova through the grant instrument for gas procurement, essentially for Energocom,” announced Minister of Energy Victor Parlicov during the Parliament session on December 22.
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In this context, PAS deputy Ina Coșeru, who congratulated him on International Energy Day, emphasized that “for the Republic of Moldova, inclusion in the NANSEN program and this funding is important.” She noted that “the relations between Norway and the Republic of Moldova have significantly improved. Inclusion in this program is due to the effort made by the President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu. The improvement of collaboration between Norway and the Republic of Moldova is also due to the accreditation of Ambassador Liliana Gutan in Oslo earlier this year, a fact confirmed by Secretary of State Petersson, who emphasized that the relations are at the highest level since Independence.”
During the meeting of the Ambassadors of the Republic of Moldova with President Maia Sandu, Speaker Igor Grosu, and Prime Minister Dorin Recean on August 16, Ambassador Liliana Gutan highlighted the impasse in absorbing NANSEN funds. The leadership promised personal involvement to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, prioritize energy projects, and prioritize the energy sector in dialogue with Norwegians, at the diplomat’s suggestion.
Efforts continued through multiple visits to Oslo to maintain interest in the Republic of Moldova in Norway. Moldova’s visibility has significantly increased, reflected in the visit of a massive parliamentary delegation led by former Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Soreide to Chisinau in November. Decisive in the positive evolution of the NANSEN project for Moldova was the visit of Minister of Energy Victor Parlicov to Oslo on November 28.
It is worth noting that, already this year, Norway has granted nearly $48.5 million for natural gas purchases and macroeconomic support, disbursed $7.5 million for humanitarian aid, and provided another $35 million. Thus, there is strong support in Oslo for establishing a permanent diplomatic presence in Chisinau and organizing President Maia Sandu’s state visit in 2024. The Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD) has a clearer mandate to prioritize the needs seen from Chisinau in the NANSEN Program. Furthermore, the Norwegian Parliament has reached an agreement for the continued funding of the Republic of Moldova through NANSEN and will begin the ratification procedure for the Moldova-EFTA agreement in the spring.