Republic of Moldova: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the press conference

(Source: EEAS)

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Ms President [of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu],

This is my first visit to the Republic of Moldova in my capacity of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy. And I am very glad to be here today, together with my friend, Commissioner [for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Olivér] Várhelyi.

I would have hoped that this visit could have taken place in less difficult circumstances. The circumstances are difficult, you know very well why, because in your borders there is the biggest threat to peace and stability in Europe since World War II. The Moldovan authorities and the Moldovan people have shown their generosity in providing immediate support to the refugees fleeing Ukraine – be it Ukrainians or third country nationals. Because I want to use this opportunity to stress that, according to the values of the European Union, all people deserve the same treatment without discrimination, affecting any refugees on the basis of whatever characteristics – be it national or ethnic or whatever. They all deserve the same treatment.

I have to recognise that in the last week, [the Republic of] Moldova has provided safe passage to more than 100,000 refugees that are escaping the war in Ukraine. It has provided refuge to mothers and more than 20,000 children fleeing the bombs in Ukraine. I would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to you, Ms President, and your country. We see your efforts and solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and we will support you where we can. Because we know that this is going to be a heavy burden on your people.

But then, the problem is not only Donbas, the problem is not only Ukraine. What is at stake is the stability in Europe and the whole international order. You can be sure, and that is why we are here today, to stress our support and solidarity with the Republic of Moldova in the current situation, across all areas – from humanitarian, energy and electricity, macro financial assistance and security and defence.

Allow me to say something on something about each of these areas we are working on together.

On electricity, we are currently looking at supporting energy security in [the Republic of] Moldova and bringing the country towards the European Union electricity grid and we hope to have an assessment by the European network (ENSTO-E) quickly.

Several Member States have already pledged humanitarian supplies, some of which have already arrived. And Commissioner Várhelyi, who is in charge of the countries in the neighbourhood, will say more about this.

Let me concentrate on what is specifically my duty, which are the areas of security and defence, in particular when it comes to strengthening [the Republic of] Moldova’s resilience. We will support [the Republic of] Moldova in strengthening [the Republic of] Moldova’s cyber security. An expert mission is here already, in Chisinau, as we speak, to assess the needs and identify concrete support measures, that can be implemented at very short notice.

Secondly, we are going to use our European Peace Facility to provide the Moldovan armed forces with medical equipment and support in case of crisis. We will discuss today options for additional assistance and logistics, if needed.

Third, it is important also to stress how we can fight against disinformation. Disinformation has become a fully-fledged war and this has become an active component of what has happened in Ukraine. I think that we are ready to support [the Republic of] Moldova on that, providing its citizens the right to information. The right to information is one of the most important rights of a citizen and we are engaged on this file.

We also discussed the Transnistrian conflict settlement process. The European Union will continue supporting a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the conflict on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognised borders, with a special status for the Transnistrian region. We agreed today to hold a high-level political and security dialogue with [the Republic of] Moldova in a couple of weeks to take stock on these points further.

Let me stress that we confirm [the Republic of] Moldova’s right to choose its foreign policy course and we believe strongly that [the Republic of] Moldova belongs to the European family. We will continue cooperating intensively on the basis of our Association Agreement. Commissioner Várhelyi can also give more details about how this agreement is being developed. We are here to stress the importance of our engagement in our partnership.

We are, certainly, at a critical juncture. Everything we believe in and has been framing our lives – international rules, principles and progress achieved since the end of the Cold War – are being challenged.

I would like to thank [the Republic of] Moldova for supporting the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Ukraine. I think that the international community stands together on this issue.

Thank you, President, once again, for your support to the people escaping the war. You can be sure about our strong support to the Republic of Moldova from any point of view – from our Association Agreement to support to the problems that you are facing with the amount of refugees that you have to take care of and our strong and continued partnership.

Thank you President.

 

Q&A

  1. Would you please tell us exactly what are the security risks for the Republic of Moldova, also in the context of your declarations on Monday, HRVP Borell, stating that Moldova is one of the countries where Russian pressure might go up in the upcoming days?

 

You are in a geographical situation, that is in immediate vicinity of a war. Taking flows of refugees. And as President [of Moldova, Maia Sandu] has said, you can hear, and you can see, the war directly, the noise of the bombs falling on Ukrainian people, several kilometers across the border. And that is certainly something that generates concern, because the instability at the border can creates problems. But as President [of Moldova, Maia Sandu] has said, we don’t believe that there is a risk of the war expanding to any other country in the vicinity, in the neighborhood. But apart from war, there are other ways and means in order to inflict concern. Disinformation is one of them. I mentioned Georgia, I mentioned the Balkans, I could have also mentioned the Sahel where we are concerned on the political stability, depending on what the Russians decide to do in the future. But this, for the time being, what is a concern in particular  is the flow of refugees, and the stability of the border of [the Republic of] Moldova, without putting the question in military terms.

  1. Chisinau decided not to join so far the European sanctions. Have you expected a different decision on behalf of Chisinau? Especially since Ukraine already withdrew its Ambassadors from Kyrgyzstan and Georgia for similar decisions.

We respect fully the decisions of Moldova. Moldova is a sovereign and independent country. It has its own foreign policy, and we respect fully its decisions.

 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-219581

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