By Ana Maria Touma
In the wake of the election of Moldova’s Eurosceptic new leader, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday that Bucharest’s objective continues to be Moldova’s European integration and the consolidation of its democracy.
“Our strategic objective is Moldova’s European integration, supporting its clear orientation towards the EU and connecting Chisinau to Europe, as it becomes a solid democracy; it is a process in which Romania can and should play a main role,” Iohannis said.
He was speaking after a National Defence Council meeting – the first high level foreign policy event in Bucharest after Moldovans elected Socialist president Igor Dodon on November 13.
Dodon has spoken in favour of Moldova pulling out of its Association Agreement with the EU, which Romania has been supporting for years, and is also an advocate for rapprochement with Moscow.
The National Defence Council decided to set up a working group at government level meant to oversee the implementation of a strategy on future relations with Moldova.
Iohannis said that the new Moldova strategy is meant to be pragmatic, based on the current complicated context in Europe and the unstable political environment in Chisinau.
His comments came after new Moldovan president Dodon said in an interview with Romanian public television on Friday that he resents Bucharest politicians’ elder-brotherly attitude towards their Chisinau counterparts.
“We’re neighbours, we’ve got historical ties, we’re brothers. But each brother should only be king in his own house. I respect the Romanian state and I want Romania to respect the Moldovan state,” Dodon said.
However, he said that as president, he cannot break off the Association Agreement with the EU, no matter how strongly he might have advocated it during the election campaign.
He also said he wanted to bring Brussels and Moscow to the negotiating table over Moldova’s status.
Dodon then accused the Bucharest government of supporting movements in Chisinau to unite Moldova with Romania.
“I have never been anti-Romanian, but I am an anti-unionist,” Dodon said in the interview.
Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip, a member of the right-wing Democratic Party, is one of the supporters of the Association Agreement and is set to continue the administrative reforms required by Brussels, he said on Tuesday during a meeting with the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.