By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Maia Sandu, Moldova’s pro-Western president, announced she will seek reelection next year and also called on parliament to organize a referendum on her small southeastern European nation’s potential accession to the EU.
“Our future lies in the European family and it is necessary to say clearly — the whole country — which path we choose for Moldova,” she said in a Facebook post and video on December 24.
“I call on parliament to initiate the holding of a referendum next autumn, at which the voice of citizens will be decisive,” she added.
At a summit in Brussels, the EU on December 14 announced the decision to open membership negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine and to grant candidacy status to Georgia.
Moldova’s pro-Western prime minister, Dorin Recean, echoed Sandu, saying that “Moldova is European” and “our future is in the EU.”
Sandu on December 14 also hailed parliament’s adoption of a national defense strategy tying her nation to the West, saying it “is a big step toward strengthening the security and stability of our country.”
Sandu added that the government’s goal is to transform Moldova — which has a population of about 3.5 million people — from “a vulnerable state with fragile democracy” into a “strong, modern, resilient, and European state, capable of taking care of its citizens.”
In her Christmas Eve comments, Sandu asked asks voters to support her for another term as president in the elections expected to take place in November 2024.
It was not immediately clear whether Sandu is seeking to hold a referendum on EU membership at the same time.
It would be the third time Sandu has run for president. She was defeated by pro-Moscow Socialist Igor Dodon in 2016 but scored a victory against Dodon in 2020.
In a Facebook posting, Dodon on December 24 blasted Sandu’s announcement, saying that “after three years in office, Maia Sandu has nothing to offer but a referendum to ‘save’ her from political drowning.”
“She hopes to partner with Europe and that this will bring her a new mandate. But people are no longer as naive as they were in 2020. Today, they associate Maia Sandu not with progress and law, but with poverty, arrogance, and anti-democratic abuse,” he said, adding that the Socialists “have every moral and legal basis” to run the country.