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Moldova optimistic that EU entry talks can begin before June

mihai popsoi - Moldova Invest

Republica Moldova

Moldova optimistic that EU entry talks can begin before June

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

Moldova is “cautiously optimistic” about commencing formal discussions to join the European Union before the bloc’s parliamentary elections in June, according to its foreign minister’s statement on Friday.

The small former Soviet republic, led by pro-European president Maia Sandu, received approval from the EU in December to initiate negotiations for joining the 27-nation bloc, alongside neighboring Ukraine. Both countries are embarking on a lengthy process involving numerous changes and reforms to align with EU standards.

Mihai Popsoi, who assumed the role of foreign minister in January, informed Reuters in an interview that Moldova remains vigilant against potential destabilization efforts from Russia. He mentioned ongoing negotiations with partners to enhance air defense capabilities, though fiscal constraints pose challenges to such endeavors.

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Popsoi indicated that Moldova commenced the EU membership screening mechanism process last week. Screening involves a comprehensive assessment conducted by the European Commission, in collaboration with the candidate country, across various policy domains referred to as “chapters,” to evaluate the country’s readiness.

Upon completion of the report, the Commission may recommend either directly opening negotiations or stipulating certain conditions – known as opening benchmarks – that need to be met first.

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“We hope … (it) will be considered as enough progress to start to open the chapters of negotiations, to have the intergovernmental conference before the June election because we understand that after the election there will be several months of settling down and we don’t have days to lose, not least months. We’ve lost decades,” Popsoi said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Negotiations take place between ministers and ambassadors of the EU governments and the candidate country in what is called an intergovernmental conference.

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Popsoi said he believed there was enough consensus within the EU that even a potential rise in far-right representation in the European parliament was unlikely to hinder the process.

“We tried to go above and beyond when it comes to the domestic reform process because we know that ultimately we are not doing it for the EU, we are doing it for the sake of our citizens, for improving the living standards and the quality of life,” he said.

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