Moldova optimistic that EU entry talks can begin before June

Mihai Popsoi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova

© APA | Mihai Popsoi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova

# 16 February 2024 17:06 (UTC +04:00)

Moldova is "cautiously optimistic" that it can begin formal talks to join the European Union before the bloc's parliamentary elections in June, its foreign minister said on Friday, APA reports citing Reuters.

Moldova, the small former Soviet republic led by pro-European president Maia Sandu, was given the green light by the EU in December to open negotiations on joining the 27-nation bloc, along with neighbouring Ukraine. Both countries face a long process involving many changes and reforms to meet EU standards.

Mihai Popsoi, appointed foreign minister in January, told Reuters in an interview that the country remained on alert for Russian destabilisation efforts and that it was negotiating with partners to boost its air defence capabilities, although its budgetary constraints made such efforts difficult.

He said Moldova had started the EU membership screening mechanism process last week.

Screening is the process whereby the European Commission carries out a detailed examination, together with the candidate country, of each policy field, known as "chapters", to determine how well the country is prepared.

Once the report is finished, the Commission then either recommends to open negotiations directly or to require that certain conditions – opening benchmarks - should first be met.

"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.

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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