In Romania and Moldova, the incumbent EU Council President conceded that Europe must send “clear political signals” to Kyiv regarding its possible EU membership.
Special Representative for Constanta (Romania) and Chisinau (Moldova)
The war is near here. It’s even taking place across the Romania-Moldova border, where Emmanuel Macron headed back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the first country, France has increased its military presence within the framework of NATO. In the second, concerned primarily with the humanitarian and economic consequences of the conflict, the head of state again recalled his concern about a “danger to our stability for all”. Moldova benefits from support from France and the European Union. Thanks to the €40 million help from the European Defense Fund, Moldova will be able to double its budget for its army. But that’s not enough to calm her down.
Like Ukraine and Georgia, it has applied for membership of the European Union and has joined a small club made up notably of the Western Balkans states. The Commission has to give an opinion this week and the European Council will decide on it at the summit on 24th and 25th June. “The context of the war makes us look at the moment differently,” admitted the French head of state alongside his counterpart Maia Sandu at the door of the presidential residence in Chisinau.
In Moldova, Emmanuel Macron owns even more in Ukraine. On the steps of Europe and while the rumors are urging it on, Emmanuel Macron has confirmed in half a word an upcoming trip to this capital. He was one of the few Western officials not to visit Kyiv since the February 24 Russian invasion, claiming to be waiting for a “useful” moment. The moment seems imminent. “We are in the process of joining forces with Ukraine for a new kind of talks,” the Romanian leader said Wednesday morning on the tarmac at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport after surveying the troops from the base. “We must send clear political signals to Ukraine,” he said. “An unprecedented geopolitical situation is unfolding at the gates of our European Union. Yes, the political context and the decisions that the European Union and several nations have to make warrant further in-depth discussions and further progress,” he said.
“A positive and clear message”
As Russia gnaws at ground in Donbass, Ukrainians continue to expect military aid to resist the offensive. But Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also hoping for a political gesture to recognize Ukraine as a candidate. “We must not separate Moldova and Ukraine under the circumstances we know,” said Emmanuel Macron, who was asked several times for his position. He said he wanted Europeans to send “a positive and clear message” to Moldova. France secures the presidency of the European Union until the end of the month, Emmanuel Macron wisely avoided saying more. He assured that he was working towards a consensus among the 27. Therefore, he stressed that the answer would be “under conditions”. Accession by Ukraine or Moldova is not conceivable for many years, even decades.
For this reason, Emmanuel Macron is pushing ahead with his idea of a “European Political Community” (EPC) that could bring together states on Europe’s edges, some of which have left it, and respond to the immediate stability issues that might arise. It is not a substitute for membership, he assured. The EPC is intended to “complete” the accession process and build solidarity between the Union and neighboring countries. “There must be a pillar of defense and security,” stressed the head of state. But this CPE would not provide guarantees of automatic protection against aggression. “It is unrealistic for it to be of the same nature as Article 5” of the Atlantic Alliance Treaty. In practice, the concrete modalities of the CPE have yet to be defined. But those close to the head of state believe that the crisis Europe is going through should be an opportunity to rebuild a security architecture.
If we have helped Ukraine to resist as much as possible, if – I hope – Ukraine has won (…), we must negotiate, the Ukrainian President and his leaders must negotiate with Russia
Alongside Emmanuel Macron, Moldovan President Maia Sandu is ready to consider the proposal. But she reiterates that her small country of less than 3 million people is ready to embark on the path to Europe. The frozen conflict in Transnistria, a small region in the east of the country controlled by a pro-Russian separatist regime, obviously poses an obstacle to a possible process. The Moldovan president hopes that the European perspective will serve as a lever to reduce tensions solve or dismantle. In the meantime, she assures us that Russia is not trying to use its approximately 1,500 forces stationed in Transnistria to help the war in Ukraine. “The situation is calm and there is no immediate danger,” she said. The recent “explosions” that have occurred there “are of internal origin,” she claims. On the French side we share the same analysis. The Prorussians saved their enthusiasm to prevent the situation from turning to their disadvantage.
In Ukraine, on the other hand, the situation is still just as difficult for soldiers who depend on Western military aid to maintain and maintain their morale. Only 10% of the aid promised by Westerners reached them. On the French side, a military source ensures that everything that should have been delivered has been delivered, including logistical support capacities. But Emmanuel Macron’s comments in which he refused to “humiliate” Russia have raised questions about French support. The President takes it. “Sometime when we have helped Ukraine to put up as much resistance as possible, when – I hope – Ukraine will have won and especially when the fire can stop, we must negotiate, the Ukrainian President and his leaders must do negotiate with Russia,” he said. “The only desirable outcome of the conflict is either a military victory for Ukraine, or at some point a discussion because the fire will have stopped, which will allow an agreement between Ukraine and Russia,” he explained. Formulated at the borders of Europe, these positions must be explained and understood in Ukraine.