Europe meets with Zelensky in Moldova in challenge to Putin
Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Moldova on Thursday for a summit of European leaders with strong symbolic value, in this small country bordering Ukraine which also lives in fear of Russia.
About 50 European leaders are meeting just 20 kilometers from Ukraine to send a message of support to this former Soviet republic, as a new air attack hit Kiev overnight, killing at least three people. “I’m happy to be here”, launched the Ukrainian president in front of the cameras, before thanking the Moldovan people “for having welcomed many refugees since the first day of the war”.
The heads of state and government of forty-seven states were invited to Château Mimi, a wine estate in the village of Bulboaca, 35 kilometers from the capital Chisinau, for the second meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). “We are going to confirm once again our support for Ukraine which is resisting Russian aggression”, underlined the Moldovan President, Maia Sandu. As during its first edition in Prague in October, the CPE will give rise to a “family photo”. Taken in this village near Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist region of 300,000 inhabitants in the east of the country, it will highlight the isolation of Vladimir Putin. The meeting will however have a notable absentee, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, re-elected on Sunday.
A gathering much larger than the European Union (twenty invited countries in addition to the twenty-seven members of the bloc), this informal body, imagined by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, brings together countries with very different profiles and backgrounds: Armenia , Georgia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Azerbaijan… For Moldova, this is an opportunity to reiterate its impatience to join the EU. “Moldova’s place is in the European Union,” Maia Sandu said on Wednesday. She received a message of encouragement from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who praised the country’s “enormous progress” in its reforms.
The question of accession also arises urgently for Ukraine, partly occupied by Russian troops. It obtained the status of official candidate at the same time as Moldova, in June 2022. But the road is still long. Emmanuel Macron called on the EU to rethink its governance and to “invent several formats” to meet these aspirations. Leaders are also expected to discuss Ukraine’s security on Thursday, as NATO foreign ministers gather in Oslo to respond to kyiv’s request to join the Atlantic Alliance.