By Paul Ciocoiu
A visit late last week by Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, followed by Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski on Monday (December 4th), showed clear support for Moldova’s European aspirations and encouraged the former Soviet republic’s drive for reforms, analysts and officials in Chisinau said.
“First of all, Barroso’s visit is a clear message of support and encouragement for Moldova in implementing the necessary reforms needed for the European integration. Secondly, it signals Europe being even more open to Moldova,” Nicu Popescu, an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations and European integration advisor to Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat, told SETimes.
In Chisinau, Barroso spoke openly.
“There is no doubt Moldova belongs to Europe,” he said. “If you maintain the speed and increase the profoundness of reforms, I am sure your European choice will pay off.”
But Barroso warned that the second phase comes with significant progress in fighting corruption and reforming the judicial system. He said the EU is keeping a close eye on the settlement of the Transdniestr conflict, which is a priority for Brussels’ foreign policy.
For officials in Chisinau, the visits of the two leaders carry an even heavier significance.
“They come as a proof of acknowledgment of both our European aspirations and efforts towards the European integration,” Vlad Turcanu, spokesman for Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, told SETimes.
“The connection between Moldova and Europe that has been taking shape for a few years is now starting to consolidate,” he added.
The Polish president’s visit is equally significant, Turcanu said.
“For Moldova, Poland’s experience is truly important. Poland, a country which is consolidating its position in Eastern Europe, is a country that knows Moldova’s specifics, just like Romania and the Baltic countries, and this is why its expertise is so valuable to us.”
Poland, along with Sweden, is the initiator of the Eastern Partnership that was launched in May 2009 to strengthen Brussels’ relations with six former Soviet republics: Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
“Moldova is a source of optimism in the region,” Komorowski said Monday.
He assured the Moldovan citizens they will feel the advantages of the European integration as soon as the country signs a stabilisation and association agreement. For Moldovans, these are heartening words.
“It is encouraging to see we finally have a goal, not only for individuals, but for the whole people,” Dumitru Puricaru, a Moldovan studying economics in Bucharest, told SETimes.
Moldova started negotiations with the EU in 2010 and hopes to sign an agreement by the end of 2013.