Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 18 March to 24 March 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Vladimir Krsmanovic, Olivier Husson, Claire Aréthuse, Olga Chekhurska, Valérian Cerino, Sarah Wilpotte, Fiona Bessioud, Elisabeth Nagy

The files we follow: Ukrainian domestic policy ; EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process; Foreign policy of Belarus, Russian army in Belarus and Belarus-Ukraine relationship ; United Transitional Cabinet of Free Belarus and the Belarusian diaspora; Domestic Policy of Belarus and political prisoners ; Safe point in Ukraine ; Political situation in Crimea and the “Donbass republics” in the context of the war in Ukraine; Situation in Transnistria/ Moldova; EU-Balkan relations; Foreign policies of Kosovo, Serbia and Albania; Human rights and the fight against corruption in Eastern Europe; Energy, nuclear and renewable energy issues in Eastern Europe.

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Situation in Moldova and Transnistria -Sarah Wilpotte-

On 20 March, in an interview with Europa Libera, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu announced, in the context of the anti-government demonstrations in Chisinau organised by the Sor party, that the Republic of Moldova was beginning to gradually align itself with the sanctions imposed by the European Union on the Russian Federation for aggression against Ukraine and would be sanctioning more Russian citizens “in a few weeks”. He said the list would include about 25 people, about half of them Russian citizens. 

On 22 March, according to an official statement, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Oleg Serebrian met with Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Ambassador Aleksandr Lukashevich, as well as Russia’s special representative in the negotiation process on the Transnistrian settlement, Ambassador Vitaly Tryapitsyn. Among other things, Oleg Serebrian expressed the hope that Russia would not limit the OSCE mission in Moldova and would further support the formula for a peaceful and final settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, respecting Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

On 23 March, Moldovan President Maya Sandu met Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca. According to an official statement, the President thanked Romania for its support, and the Prime Minister reiterated her support for the future of relations between the two countries, stating: “Romania is working to ensure that within the EU, as well as with our other strategic partners, the necessary attention and support continue to be provided in order to maintain governmental, economic and social stability.” During the meeting, they also reviewed the progress of various joint projects between the two countries. 

On the same day, the Moldovan president promulgated the law confirming Romanian as the official language, the presidential press service reported. She stressed that “those who have been telling us for decades that we, the citizens of Moldova, speak the ‘Moldovan’ language and not Romanian – have only one objective: to divide us. This is because once a nation is divided, it is easier to subjugate and control it. A divided nation does not represent a united force that can protect itself. Those who tried to divide us did not care about linguistics, but about how to keep Moldova locked in an eternal national quarrel.”

On 24 March, a joint declaration of the Moldova-EU Parliamentary Association Committee was adopted. It refers to three aspects: Moldova’s accession to the European Union and the Association Agreement, the rule of law and judicial reform, and the geopolitical situation in Moldova. The document recognises the significant efforts made by the Republic of Moldova and the progress made in several key areas, including the fight against violence against women, the fight against corruption and the judiciary, hence the request to the European Commission and the Council to start negotiations for Moldova’s accession to the EU as soon as possible, by the end of 2023. The signatories also ask the European Commission to continue to provide financial support to Moldova. Furthermore, the declaration supports sanctions against Moldovan citizens known to have corrupted Moldova’s political and economic institutions, and condemns Russian aggression and threats on Moldovan territory, calling on member states to support the country against destabilisation attempts.

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