Moldova’s new PM visits neighboring Romania to boost ties

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca held talks Wednesday with his visiting Moldovan counterpart as the two neighbors seek to boost ties amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Ciuca met with new Prime Minister Dorin Recean at the government headquarters in Bucharest, where the two leaders discussed topics including regional security, economy, energy cooperation. They also discussed Romania’s assistance to Moldova in its bid to one day join the European Union.

In a news conference afterwards, Ciuca noted that the war in Ukraine has had “massive consequences” on Moldova, an EU candidate country since last June, and he vowed to continue supporting the former Soviet republic’s path toward the 27-nation bloc.

“We are witnessing more and more attempts to destabilize the Republic of Moldova by artificially creating tensions, as well as hostile narratives,” Ciuca said, adding that Romania will stand by Moldova “to overcome the current crises and hybrid pressures” it faces.

He added that the two countries, which both border Ukraine, will look to “speed up interconnection projects in the field of electricity,” which he said is important for ensuring Moldova’s energy independence. In recent months, Moldova faced a severe energy crisis after Russia dramatically reduced its gas supplies.

The pro-Western Recean, who took office on Feb. 16 after the previous prime minister quit, called Romania his country’s “most important partner” and said he wants to “deepen the strategic partnership.”

“Bucharest has helped us enormously in overcoming the energy crisis,” he said, adding that Romania also “remains our advocate in all European institutions so that we can rapidly advance the European path.”

Recean said that he discussed with Ciuca the temporary deployment of experts from Bucharest to Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, so they can help its institutions prepare for the process of EU accession. Romania joined the EU in 2007.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Moldova, a country of about 2.6 million, has faced a long string of crises.

These include several missiles that have traversed its skies from Russia’s war next door; skyrocketing inflation; a huge inflow of war refugees, and ongoing anti-government protests supported by Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party.

Recean also met Wednesday with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

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