Moldova is taking the same path to EU membership as Portugal, says Foreign Minister

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Minister Nicu Popescu claims that the European Union has made Portugal a solid and consolidated democracy, more secure and also more prosperous, and this is what they will try to replicate in Moldova.

Moldova is making the same path of integration into the European Union (EU) that Portugal did, and fighting corruption is a cornerstone to consolidate membership, the Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs told Lusa.

“Do you know what the great transformative effect of the EU has been on Portugal? It made Portugal a solid and consolidated democracy, more secure and also more prosperous. That’s what we’re going to try to replicate in Moldova,” Nicu Popescu explained in an interview with Lusa news agency in Brussels.

Moldova has been a candidate to join the European Union since June 2022, together with Ukraine, a process accelerated by Russia’s invasion of this neighboring country in February of that year. The road to Chisinau is a long one, just as it is for Kiev, but unlike Ukraine, Moldova does not set 2026 as the deadline for joining the community bloc.

“There is still a lot to do,” the Moldovan ruler maintained, with rampant corruption being “one of the biggest problems Moldova inherited” after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

The country is struggling with a past of institutions captured by oligarchs, but achieved in 2022 “the best place in the last ten years regarding anti-corruption efforts,” Nicu Popescu stressed. According to the 2022 Corruption Perception Index, Moldova ranks 91st (the best in the last decade) out of 180 countries that make up a list headed by Denmark. Portugal ranks 33rd.

“The work of our government is already being recognized,” added the also deputy prime minister of the country that is in charge of Moldova’s European Integration, namely in the fight against “money laundering and the recovery of state assets stolen by oligarchs, including the Chisinau International Airport, in November 2022 and that was since 2013 “in the hands” of Ilan Shor, a Moldovan oligarch who is this Thursday fugitive.

“People look at us and think: “This is what Spain did, this is what Portugal did. It’s still in the recent memory of politicians, it wasn’t so long ago (…). Romania did this, Portugal did this, it’s hard work”, he reinforced. The example of Portugal, a member state since 1986, was a constant throughout the interview.

The Moldovan foreign minister is also of the opinion that the country is already “part of the practical structures of the European Union” and this was visible during this winter, when “90% of the electricity came from Romania,” which is an EU member state. Russia’s bombing of energy infrastructure in Ukraine, one of the countries that shares a border with Moldova, has affected the Moldovan grid.

Nicu Popescu also rejected that attention is only focused on Ukraine and said that in Brussels they are “doing their utmost to help” Moldova’s accession process, and Chisinau wants to reciprocate: “Our desire is now to increase participation in EU peace missions, for example in Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

There are eight countries that are candidates for EU membership: Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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