Moldovan Parliament backs bid to join EU, but divisions remain

March 22, 2024 4:36 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Moldova’s Parliament endorsed an appeal to press on with a drive to join the European Union.

But the opposition walked out of the vote and separatists in the Transdniestria region urged authorities to drop their claim to the enclave.

President Maia Sandu, who says Russia is the biggest threat to Moldova’s security, has made EU membership the cornerstone of her administration in the ex-Soviet state, which lies between Ukraine and Romania.

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A vocal opponent of Russia’s war in Ukraine, she has called for a referendum on EU membership to be held this year.

After a debate coinciding with an EU summit in Brussels, Parliament adopted by a vote of 54-to-0 a declaration saying, “Only joining Europe can ensure the future of the country as a sovereign, neutral and full-fledged democratic state”.

It identified EU integration as “Moldova’s top priority national project.” Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries.

The opposition Bloc of Communists and Socialists, sympathetic to Moscow, walked out of the chamber.

In Transdniestria, a sliver of land which broke away from Moldova as the Soviet Union was collapsing, self-styled President Vadim Krasnoselsky called on Moldovan authorities to recognise his territory and renounce all claims to it.

“There is no other way out,” he said on the enclave’s television. “There can be no more talk of autonomy. You must walk away from these territories.”

His region, he said, was “not separatist,” but “a normal neighbour” seeking peace and stability.

Transdniestria, heavily dependent on Russia for financial support, has no international recognition, not even from Moscow.

It has remained on Moldova’s eastern border for 30 years with little turmoil, but tension has risen since Moldovan authorities imposed customs duties in January on all goods entering and leaving the region.