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To protect itself from Russia.. Moldova wants to join the European Union “as soon as possible.”

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Moldovan President Maya Sandu announced in an interview with Agence France-Presse that her country wants to join the European Union “as soon as possible” to protect itself from the Russian threat, expressing hope that a decision would be issued “in the coming months” on opening negotiations in this regard.

“We believe that we can only save our democracy by joining the European Union,” Sandu said, days before a pro-European rally followed by an unprecedented European summit in Chisinau.

“Russia will remain a great source of instability in the coming years, and we must protect ourselves,” the 50-year-old Moldovan president said on the sidelines of a Council of Europe summit that ended Tuesday in Iceland.

This former Soviet republic, which includes 2.6 million people, will organize, on June 1, the first major summit that includes expanded Europe, with the countries of the European political group and the most prominent countries of the continent.

In February, Sandu accused Russia of staging a coup to overthrow the authorities in Chisinau.

Sandu, who has held power in Europe’s poorest country since 2020, called a large pro-EU rally on Sunday aimed at expressing support for Moldovans to join the bloc.

“The war in Ukraine has made things very clear: we see very clearly now what the free world wants to say and what the authoritarian world means to all of us,” said the first woman to hold the presidency in the small country, of which an entire region of Transnistria is de facto under Russian control.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a hypothesis that was unlikely so far, which is the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the European Union in the medium term.

“We believe that (accession) is a realistic project and we want this matter to happen as soon as possible,” the Moldovan president said in her interview with Agence France-Presse in Reykjavik, expressing hope that “a decision on opening negotiations will be issued in the coming months.”

The European Union granted Ukraine official candidate status in June 2022 but calls for continued reforms, particularly in the fight against corruption.

And if the accession of Moldova, the small country located on the borders of Romania, a member of the European Union, will undoubtedly be easier because of its size, there are still many many obstacles to its entry into the bloc, and this process may take until the year 2030 at least.

In addition to its fragile economy and corruption problems, Moldova also has to find a solution for breakaway Transnistria, a pro-Russian region of 300,000 people in the east of the country.

“We still have a number of things to do, but we are working very hard and this has become our main goal now,” said the President of Moldova, whose country began withdrawing from the group of independent states led by Russia since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

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