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Breaking news5 May 2022 11:19

European Parliament resolution on the state of play of EU-Moldova cooperation

European Parliament resolution on the state of play of EU-Moldova cooperation:

(2022/2650(RSP))

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on the Republic of Moldova and on Eastern Partnership countries,

– having regard to the Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Moldova, of the other part[1], which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and which fully entered into force on 1 July 2016 (AA/DCFTA),

– having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2020 on the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with the Republic of Moldova[2],

– having regard to the Republic of Moldova’s application for EU membership, submitted on 3 March 2022,

– having regard to the Versailles Declaration of 10-11 March 2022,

– having regard to the statement of 29 April 2022 by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, on the recent security incidents in the Transnistrian region,

– having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the Republic of Moldova has been disproportionally affected by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, mainly due to the arrival of more than 450 000 refugees since the invasion began – nearly 100 000 of whom have stayed – which is the highest number per capita of all countries that have received refugees from Ukraine, but also due to lost trade as well as increased energy and transport prices;

B. whereas the Republic of Moldova submitted its application to join the EU on 3 March 2022, attesting to the long-standing determination of the Moldovan authorities and a large part of the population to advance Moldova’s European integration;

C. whereas the European Union and its Member States have provided the Republic of Moldova with financial and in-kind assistance to cope with the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including EUR 13 million in humanitarian assistance, EUR 15 million for administrative support for the temporarily displaced, EUR 15 million to support the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to Moldova and Ukraine, and in-kind assistance under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism; whereas on 5 April 2022, the EU, its Member States, G7 countries and other like-minded states pledged EUR 659.5 million at the launch of the Moldova Support Platform; whereas the EU provided Moldova with EUR 60 million through a new budget support programme in order to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices on the most vulnerable people;

D. whereas on 17 March 2022 an agreement was signed between the EU and Moldova on border management cooperation, enabling Frontex to support the Moldovan authorities in daily border management and border security activities;

E. whereas there have been concerns of potential false flag operations in Moldova since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine;

F. whereas in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, Russia maintains at least 1 500 troops on the ground, supplemented by an additional 5 000 soldiers from the so-called armed forces of Transnistria;

G. whereas on 22 April 2022 Major General Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, stated that one of the goals of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is to create a land corridor to the Transnistrian region; whereas Major General Minnekayev also falsely claimed that acts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population had been observed in Transnistria;

H. whereas on 25, 26 and 27 April 2022 a number of security incidents took place in the Transnistrian region, including a grenade attack on the building of the so-called state security ministry in Tiraspol, explosions damaging radio masts in the village of Maiac, and alleged gunshots fired around the Cobasna ammunition depot;

I. whereas the Cobasna depot, located within the Transnistrian region on the Ukraine-Moldova border, contains approximately 22 000 tonnes of Soviet-era ammunition and military equipment guarded by the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF); whereas, in spite of commitments made in 1999 and again in 2021, the Russian Federation has failed to ensure the full destruction of these weapons; whereas concerns persist that this equipment might be utilised in armed conflict in either an operational capacity or to exert pressure on the Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities;

J. whereas Russia has used its gas exports to Moldova as a tool for advancing the Kremlin’s economic and geopolitical interests in the country, most recently by artificially creating a gas supply crisis in the latter part of 2021;

K. whereas Moldova’s main supply of electricity comes from the Transnistrian region from a power plant owned by the Russian company Inter RAO;

1. Commends the great solidarity shown by the citizens of the Republic of Moldova towards the refugees from Ukraine that have been fleeing Russia’s war of aggression, its destruction of Ukrainian cities and towns, and its perpetration of atrocities and war crimes, by opening their homes to welcome them in their thousands; welcomes the efforts undertaken by the authorities of the Republic of Moldova to support the Ukrainian refugees;

2. Expresses its conviction that the EU must demonstrate the same degree of solidarity with the people of Moldova and support as determinedly as possible the country’s efforts to cope with the consequences of the Russian war of aggression;

3. Recalls that managing the situation of the almost 100 000 refugees who have found shelter in and those transiting through the Republic of Moldova constitutes an increasing financial burden for the Moldovan state, which already finds itself in a precarious financial situation due to the economic slowdown of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in gas prices triggered artificially by Gazprom;

4. Notes that the longer the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine lasts, the more humanitarian, security and socio-economic assistance the Republic of Moldova will require; welcomes the recent adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the EUR 150 million macro-financial assistance (MFA) for the Republic of Moldova to cover parts of its external financing needs; calls on the Commission, in consequence, to further increase financial and technical assistance for Moldova, including through a new MFA proposal; stresses that a new MFA proposal is essential, as the recently adopted package was devised by the Commission prior to the conflict in Ukraine; insists that a new MFA proposal should mainly be composed of grants, rather than loans, in order to stabilise Moldova’s socio-economic situation and strengthen the country’s overall resilience; stresses that the Economic Recovery Plan for the Republic of Moldova, worth up to EUR 600 million, is key for Moldova’s recovery;

5. Welcomes the establishment of the Moldova Support Platform by EU Member States, G7 countries, international partners and like-minded states, intended to mobilise and coordinate international support, as a clear sign of the Union’s and its partners’ commitment to the Republic of Moldova’s European future; urges all Platform partners to ensure the timely disbursement of their pledges and to swiftly increase funding in case of a change to Moldova’s needs;

6. Calls on the Commission to continue delivering humanitarian support via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, activated on 25 February 2022, border management support via Frontex and the relocated EUBAM, and support for the transfer of persons to EU Member States in the context of the Solidarity Platform;

7. Invites the Commission and the Council to broaden the mandate of the EUBAM in order to respond to the ongoing emergency resulting from the arrival of large numbers of refugees from Ukraine and ensure that the mission can provide meaningful support for authorities in the reception of refugees;

8. Calls on the Commission to put forward additional proposals aimed at ensuring the full liberalisation of transport and trade with the EU, such as suspending import duties on all Moldovan exports to the EU, increasing the quotas for Moldovan agricultural products and facilitating labour access for Moldovans in the EU, in light of the disruptions to the Republic of Moldova’s supply chains and export markets;

9. Stresses the important role played by the Republic of Moldova so far in the safety and stability of the EU’s eastern border in the context of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine;

10. Reiterates its call on the Commission as well as on the Moldovan authorities to take into account the particular needs of women and children, who represent the vast majority of the refugees from Ukraine currently staying in Moldova; calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up specific support programmes for refugee women and children at risk of trafficking, in particular specialised support for the victims of such crimes as well as gender-based violence;

11. Welcomes Moldova’s submission of its application for EU membership on 3 March 2022; calls on the EU institutions to grant EU candidate status to the Republic of Moldova, in line with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union and on the basis of merit, and, in the meantime, to continue to work towards its integration in the EU single market and to enhance sectoral cooperation; calls on the Commission to swiftly complete its assessment and to provide Moldova with its full assistance during this process;

12. Underlines the fact, without seeking to prejudge the content of the Commission’s opinion, that the Moldovan authorities are undoubtedly on the right track by adopting key reforms, notably on democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which will ensure that the country complies with the Copenhagen criteria that accession countries must fulfil, and which are aimed at implementing the AA/DCFTA in full; encourages the Moldovan authorities to continue on its path of reforms that will improve the lives of its citizens and bring the country closer to European standards;

13. Calls for a clear and firm political signal to be made at the European Council meeting in June regarding the Republic of Moldova’s European path;

14. Underlines that, similarly to Ukraine, the concrete prospect of joining the EU is an essential element of hope that will maintain the morale of the Moldovan population during this period of extreme insecurity and material hardship;

15. Calls for strengthened cooperation between the Member States and the Moldovan authorities in investigating the 2014 bank fraud and, in particular, in ensuring the repatriation of stolen assets and prosecuting those responsible;

16. Calls for the EU to provide increased administrative and technical assistance by creating a Support Group for Moldova, similar to the existing Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA), which will increase the presence of EU staff in Moldova and allow SGUA-type assistance to be extended to the country; considers that in light of the Republic of Moldova’s recent application for EU membership, there is an urgent need to set up this Support Group;

17. Stresses that it is unacceptable that Russia has been weaponising its gas supply to exert political pressure on the Republic of Moldova in order to influence the country’s political trajectory and geopolitical orientation, notably after the presidential elections in 2020 and parliamentary elections in 2021;

18. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the Republic of Moldova towards ensuring its energy independence, connectivity, diversification and efficiency, as well as accelerating the development of renewable energy sources; calls on the Moldovan authorities to maintain the country’s commitments as a member of the Energy Community to implementing the EU’s Third Energy Package, in particular the unbundling of gas and electricity transmission and distribution;

19. Welcomes the conclusions of the European Council of 24-25 March 2022; calls on the Member States to jointly purchase natural gas, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen through a common platform that is also accessible to the Western Balkan states and three associated Eastern Partnership countries; reiterates, in this context, its call for the creation of a genuine gas union; calls on the Moldovan authorities and the Commission to work together to produce a clear assessment of Moldova’s gas storage needs for the forthcoming period;

20. Welcomes the successful isolation tests recently carried out by Moldova and Ukraine to temporarily disconnect their electricity grids from Russia and Belarus, followed by their synchronisation with the continental European power grid; urges the EU institutions to use emergency funding to swiftly connect Moldova to the EU’s electricity network/grid and to increase EU financial and technical support necessary to ensure Moldova’s resilience to such energy-related external pressure;

21. Expresses serious concern over the recent developments on the territory of the Transnistrian region and condemns them as dangerous acts of provocation undertaken in a highly volatile security situation; calls for calm in order to preserve the security and well-being of the people living on both sides of the Nistru river and in the neighbouring countries; welcomes, in this regard, the calm and restrained reaction of the authorities in Chişinău, which are helping to promote an environment conducive to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the conflict;

22. Reiterates its firm and unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders;

23. Expresses its concern at the threat to the security and the environment of the region and beyond posed by the munitions stored in the Cobasna depot and calls on the international community to support the Moldovan authorities’ efforts to remove or destroy these dangerous weapons;

24. Rejects and expresses concern about the statement of 3 March 2022 by the de facto authorities in the Transnistrian region announcing an end to the settlement process and making a renewed call for the recognition of the so-called independence of Transnistria; calls on the Russian Federation to fully and unconditionally withdraw its military forces and armaments from the Transnistrian region of Moldova, in accordance with the repeated requests of the Moldovan authorities and with respect for the Republic of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity;

25. Recalls its support for a comprehensive, peaceful and lasting political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders, which should include a special status for Transnistria within a viable Moldovan state and should not affect the country’s European aspirations; recalls the benefits and economic opportunities for the companies and population on both sides of the Nistru river following the application of the DCFTA to the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova;

26. Welcomes the recent initiatives and decisions to increase support in the field of security, notably through the launch of the EU-Moldova High-Level Political and Security Dialogue and substantial assistance measures under the European Peace Facility; recalls the need to continue to strengthen EU-Moldova security and defence cooperation and calls on both sides to make full use of the relevant platforms; calls on the Council and the Member States to offer urgent capacity-building assistance to the armed forces of the Republic of Moldova, given the security challenges that Moldova faces;

27. Commends the Moldovan authorities’ recent actions against Russian propaganda, including the temporary ban on several Russian disinformation websites under the imposed state of emergency and the ban on pro-Russian military symbols; calls on the Commission and the Moldovan authorities to increase their outreach to the population of the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova;

28. Urges the Commission, the European External Action Service and the Member States to assist Moldova with its cybersecurity and strategic communications in order to improve its resilience to possible Russian attacks, and to support the work of journalists and civil society organisations seeking to counter disinformation; calls for the Commission and the Member States to take further measures against foreign interference and disinformation and to support Moldova in this regard;

29. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

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