US-Moldova bilateral relations further strengthen

U.S. Secretary Antony J. Blinken meets with Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu

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As the Russian invasion to Ukraine intensifies, the U.S. and Moldova are increasing their cooperation. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu on 18 April in Washington D.C. and discussed bilateral relations and close cooperation between the two countries. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed Russia’s invasion to Ukraine and focused on the Moldova’s humanitarian response to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Secretary Blinken emphasized continued U.S. support to assist Moldova in addressing the economic impacts of the crisis and advancing democratic reforms. Moldova’s energy security was also in the agenda of the two politicians.

On 6 March 2022, Secretary Blinken paid an official visit to Moldova and met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to receive Foreign Minister Popescu, to return some of the very warm hospitality that the foreign minister, the president, the prime minister showed me and our team when we were in Moldova just a couple of months ago. And needless to say, this is an especially timely visit given the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and the challenge that it poses to other countries in the region,” said the Secretary of State before their meeting.

U.S.-Moldova Strategic Dialogue

The Secretary and the Foreign Minister commended the relaunch of the U.S.-Moldova Strategic Dialogue and support to Moldova’s reform agenda.

“We in the United States strongly support Moldova’s independence, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and we continue to work very closely together in practical support of all of those things,” stressed the Secretary of State.

“I’m very pleased much more broadly, though, that we are actually coming together as a result of our strategic dialogue. We welcome you for that, glad that you had an opportunity to meet with other colleagues and for the dialogue to go forward so that our partnership could even strengthen, especially in these challenging times.”

Minister Popescu underlined that, this year, the United States and Moldova have 30 years of diplomatic relations.

“And in this period, the United States has been a strong supporter of Moldovan independence, of Moldovan reforms, of Moldovan democracy,” said the Moldovan Foreign Minister.

“And we are very grateful for this support,” added Popescu, “and this occasion of my visit to Washington with strategic dialogue that we are relaunching now is focused on key elements that would allow Moldova to continuously strengthen its resilience, its capacity to perform as a democratic state and society.”

The two parts structured the dialogue on three pillars. One working group was on energy and economic issues; the second working group on rule of law and anti-corruption; and the third group on political and security cooperation.

“And all – on all of these three fronts, we think that our relation is excellent.  We have a very good interaction with your colleagues, and we’ve always felt U.S. support for Moldova,” underlined Popescu.

The parties also discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen Moldova’s energy security. Since February 24, the United States has committed $100 million in development assistance to strengthen its long-term democratic and economic resiliency.

Humanitarian aid

The escalation of conflict in Ukraine forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, and assistance. In the first five weeks of the war, more than four million Ukrainian refugees were displaced or crossed borders into neighbouring countries.

Moldova received according to government sources 425,227 refugees from Ukraine. The eastern European republic reacted immediately.

On April 6, PM Gavrilita told Secretary Blinken that Moldova is firmly committed in supporting refugees from Ukraine, although the high influx of refugees represents a considerable burden to her country.

“… we will need assistance to deal with this influx, and we need this quickly and through flexible instruments. Unfortunately, this humanitarian crisis comes on top of the developmental challenges that Moldova already had, and it was dealing with global challenges like the pandemic and energy crisis and inflation,” Gavrilita said.

Before the meeting with the Moldovan Foreign Minister, Secretary Blinken praised the humanitarian efforts made by the Moldovan government.

“I have to say, Nicu, that the humanitarian response that you’ve provided to the Russian aggression in Ukraine is extraordinary, something like 400,000 refugees from Ukraine going to and through Moldova, about 100,000 or so will remain in Moldova. And the generosity that Moldova is showing – the Moldovan people are showing – is really exceptional. We have tried to be as helpful as we can be, including at the most recent conference that took place to help support the efforts that you’re undertaking, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Since February 24, the United States has committed more than $30 million in humanitarian assistance to support the humanitarian response in Moldova.

Minister Popescu gave particular emphasis on the new challenging situation.

“As you mentioned, we have had a huge wave of refugees,” he said. “Almost 4 percent of our population are refugees today. Half of them are minors under 18 years old, so this represents 10 percent of our population of minors in Moldova. With that dramatic numbers, we have been handling the situation reasonably well, but of course that affects us all and that will continue to affect our region and our society for a long time.”

 

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Theodoros Benakis - Editor, The America Times

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