The security and defence partnership brings Moldova closer than ever to the EU

European Union
From left to right, Dorin Recean, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, and Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, sign the Security and Defence Partnership.

After the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Moldova in December 2023, a delegation led by Prime Minister Dorin Recean participated in the eighth meeting of the Moldova-European Union Association Council on Tuesday, May 21, in Brussels. During the meeting, the sides discussed the progress of relations with the EU and the preparations for opening accession negotiations. They signed two essential documents: the Moldova-EU Security and Defence Partnership and the Agreement on Moldova’s participation in the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, allowing access to funds to implement social policies. 

They also addressed the internal and external challenges hindering Moldova’s path to Europe, including corruption, vested interests, pro-Moscow circles domestically, and the impact of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

The meeting was co-chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and Prime Minister Dorin Recean, with the participation of the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi.

“Today, we have confirmed that the relations between Moldova and the European Union have never been closer,” Josep Borrell stated.

The first country to sign such an agreement with the EU

Moldova has become the first country to sign a security and defence partnership with the European Union. The partnership aims to address shared security challenges and increase Moldova’s resilience.

“This is the first country, many others will follow, in order to create a network of friends that builds a strong Security and Defence Partnership,” HR Borrell said. 

The security and defence partnership entails a broad spectrum of cooperation, from cybersecurity issues and countering hybrid threats to disinformation, training, and capacity building. This comprehensive approach addresses current security challenges and paves the way for future collaboration. While many of these activities are already in progress, establishing the partnership will provide Moldova with a more structured framework for cooperation with the EU.

Moldova’s paths for democracy

Moldova gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. However, Russia attempted to destabilise the political environment as the country tried to implement reforms and approach Western democracies. In 1992, separatist forces in Transnistria seized power with the assistance of Russian soldiers. Since then, this part of Moldovan territory has remained under Moscow’s control. Relations with Moscow have deteriorated during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Foreign interference, information manipulation, disinformation, and the Kremlin’s open support of pro-Russian political parties attempted to destabilise the country and bring it under Moscow’s sphere of influence. In February 2023, President Maia Sandu accused Russia of preparing a coup against the Moldovan government. In March, President Sandu signed a defence cooperation accord with France, aiming to protect Moldova’s independence from potential aggression by Russia.

President Maia Sandu, the first female president of Moldova, has been a beacon of hope in the country’s quest for European integration. Her strong support for Moldova’s accession to the EU, opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and efforts to reduce Moldova’s economic dependence on Russia are all testament to the country’s unwavering commitment to democracy and European values.

In October, Moldova will organise a referendum on Moldova’s European path alongside the presidential elections.

“At the same time, we expect that foreign interference, information manipulation and disinformation will only intensify in the run-up to these votes. We know we suffer [from] that here in the European Union. Every time there is an electoral process, foreign interference, information manipulation, and disinformation appear, and we have to fight against this threat to democracy,” Josep Borrell noted. 

However, the High Representative highlighted that the European Union will support Moldova’s efforts and security.

“The -Association Council has shown one important fact: Moldova has trustworthy partners with whom it’s building European Moldova, creating a better life for citizens. Reaffirmed to our partners that we are fully determined to implement all the reforms on our EU agenda,” Prime Minister Dorin Recean posted on X.

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