Moldova considers joining the European Union the only guarantee that it will not be attacked by Russia, which is invading its big neighbor, Ukraine
Tens of thousands of Moldovans demonstrated Sunday, confirming their aspiration to join the European Union in light of the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who called for the stand in front of the government headquarters in the center of the capital, Chisinau, said: “We came to say loudly, with confidence and pride, that Moldova’s place is in the European Union.”
The 50-year-old leader added: “Europe is much more than a political slogan, it is a way of life, a dream that must come true, it is the only way for our children to live in peace,” stressing that she is looking forward to joining the union on the horizon of 2030.
Along with Sandu, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, participated in the demonstration, who expressed her “support” for Moldova, saying it was “ready for European integration.”
The former Soviet republic, with a population of 2.6 million, considers its entry into the European Union the only guarantee that it will not be attacked by Russia, which is invading its great neighbor Ukraine. In June 2022, Chisinau obtained the status of an official candidate for membership in the European Union, a status that Kiev also obtained.
More than 75,000 people attended Sunday’s demonstration, according to police figures, including young and old, waving the flags of Moldova and the European Union in a festive atmosphere. Among them is Orika Baltag, a 35-year-old student, who came with her two children to show the fragile “unity” of the country.
“We are going through difficult times with the war in neighboring Ukraine, and we hope that we will not be left in the shadows and that the European Union will help us overcome this period,” she told AFP.
As for Lyuba Ponta, a 63-year-old pensioner, she worries like “anyone else about Russian threats” and wants to “get out of the recession” into which her impoverished country, which has been witnessing mass emigration, has plunged since its independence in 1991.
Moldova regularly witnesses pro-Russian demonstrations – some of which took place on Sunday – and must deal with the presence of Russian military personnel in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transdniestria in the east of the country.
In February, President Sandu accused Russia of fomenting a coup to overthrow the authorities in Chisinau, and denounced Moscow’s “hybrid war”.
In an interview with AFP this week, the official said she wanted to join the European Union “as soon as possible”, hoping to make a decision “in the coming months” on starting negotiations. “Russia will remain a major source of instability in the coming years, and we must protect ourselves,” Maya Sandu added in the interview.