Germany on Friday pledged help for EU candidate Moldova as the country struggles to deal with the consequences of the war in neighboring Ukraine — particularly rising fuel costs.
The promise came days after thousands of protesters gathered in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, to demand the resignation of pro-Western President Maia Sandu. Opponents of Sandu blame her government’s policies for high inflation and fuel prices.
Help to bridge energy gap
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Berlin to discuss support for Moldova, which has been particularly hard-hit by the economic effects of the invasion.
Coinciding with the visit, German Ministry of Development said it would support Moldova with an additional €60 million ($58.9 million) of help to overcome the energy crisis.
Development Minister Svenja Schulze praised steps already taken by Moldova’s government to make reforms necessary to become an EU member.
“It is remarkable how quickly and purposefully the Moldovan government has already tackled judicial and administrative reforms in its first year. Now it is urgently a matter of getting people through the winter safely and thus stabilizing this heavily burdened country.”
Moldova’s course of reforms as part of the EU accession process and further support in coping with the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine are on the agenda.
The gas price in Moldova has risen twelvefold in the last twelve months.
Moldova has slashed its growth estimate to zero for 2022. The economy has been damaged by record-high inflation at 34.3% and interest rates rising to 21.5%.
The country faced deep economic woes even ahead of the invasion with more than a quarter of the population living in poverty. It now hosts tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.
East-West fault lines
Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries and, like Ukraine, has been politically divided between pro-Russian and pro-Western factions.
Russian troops have been stationed in the breakaway region of Trans-Dniestr since the end of a separatist war in 1992.
In the early months of Russia’s war in Ukraine, there were fears of a spillover of the war in Ukraine into Moldova.
Amid tensions in Trans-Dniestr, there were fears that Moscow may try to forge a land corridor to the region through southern Ukraine and seize it.
Although Trans-Dniestr effectively seceded from Moldova in 1992 three decades ago, Moscow has not officially recognized the region’s independence.
With just 2.6 million people, Moldova was the smallest of the countries known as “captive nations” comprising the former republics of the old Soviet Union.
rc/wmr (dpa, AFP)