In cooperation with our local project partners, the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS), the visit provided exclusive insights into Moldova's EU oriented reform processes and the country's political situation.
The country’s situation is still heavily marked by the consequences of the Russian war against Ukraine and Russia's attempts to destabilise the currently pro-European Moldovan government. All meetings showed the eagerness and ambition to successfully modernise the Moldovan public administration, the economy as well as the judicial system and bring it closer to EU standards. This is not an easy task under the difficult circumstances, but Moldova has e.g. successfully reduced its vulnerability towards Russia’s energy blackmailing by diversifying its energy supply. However, the struggle against external interference in form of disinformation and illegal money flows with the purpose of buying votes continues. A new Center for Combating Disinformation (StratCom) has been established and the EU funded European Partnership Mission (EUPM) provides advice and equipment to the authorities for countering hybrid threats.
In its strive towards the EU, the Moldovan government needs to keep the Moldovan citizens on board, also in regions where the EU skepticism is widespread, such as in the autonomous region Gagauzia. There, vote buying has brought a governor to power who is linked to the fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor.
A complete political isolation of Gagauzia by the Moldovan government could however backfire on the EU course. With the Council decision to open accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine, the efforts of the government and its continuous solidarity with Ukraine have been rewarded. The success will be shown in the long run, if the Moldovan government will be able to hold up the support by the majority of the population and the EU and its member states will continue their political and financial support.
An informed social and political discourse on the Republic of Moldova as an EU candidate country is required in Moldova and Germany. The NEXT4EU exchange visit and lab contributed to achieving that. Further testimonies from participants and a critical reflection of the exchanges with the interlocutors will be published on this website soon.