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EU Expansion

Moldovan PM: EU accession would 'benefit citizens'

Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca shares his thoughts on aspirations to join the European Union. Leanca also reveals that Germany is a role model for the Eastern European country.

The tiny republic of Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, has for years aspired to join the EU - it hopes to sign an association agreement this November. In an interview with DW, Leanca discusses Moldova's reasons for wanting to accede, the "frozen conflict" in breakaway region Transnistria, and how Germany is a help and role model.

DW: Polls show that Moldovan society is split: 50 percent want European integration and the other 50 percent seek Eurasian integration in association with Russia.

Iurie Leanca: Despite the fact that one part of Moldovan society prefers the Western development model and the other part prefers the Eastern version, we all want one thing: a society that offers opportunities. When you ask our citizens if they want functioning institutions, fair justice, separation of powers, a reliable state prosecutor, and protection of rights, then you get a positive answer.

Europeanization would, without exception, benefit all citizens of Modova. In terms of Eurasian integration, that project hasn't really been thought through. Advantages of Europeanization are tangible, and visible in the example of other countries. In contrast, the prospects of a Eurasian union are not clear.

The Transnistrian conflict has still not been resolved. Observers think that the more the Moldovan government in Chisinau turns to the West, the less likely a resolution is. Is this correct?

Preparations for the opening ceremony of the construction of the Iashi-Ungheni Moldo-Romanian pipeline at Zagarancea village in Ungheni district, Moldova (Photo: EPA/DUMITRU DORU)

The Iasi-Ungheni pipeline reflects Romania's role in Moldova's efforts toward European integration

There are many success stories in the Republic of Moldova. We also want to see these for the Transnistrian region - its isolation is not in our interest. Modernization for Moldova and regularization of Transnistria don't stand in contradiction, witness our efforts regarding the autonomous trade preferences for the Transnistrian region with the European Union. This is an unprecedented step for the EU. It's extremely important to us to ensure customs-free exports to Europe for Transnistrian companies, as this means wages, jobs and new chances.

We also believe that the time has come to discuss the status of the Transnistrian region. Many difficult issues could be resolved if this process were to finally gain momentum.

Does Chisinau's pro-European orientation mean that Moldova is distancing itself from Moscow?

A European development model for the Moldovan republic does not mean deterioration of relations with Russia or with other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. We value our connection to Russia. We have a high level of cooperation and intend to develop this further, without antagonizing our relationship to Europe.

In Russia it's understood that we are building up our state, and not merely participating in any geopolitical project. We don't need that, neither in light of internal developments, nor with a view toward regularizing the Transnistrian conflict.

What role does Germany play in the Republic of Moldova's decision in favor of Europe and in regularizing the Transnistrian conflict?

Germany is playing a very important role. It's our greatest proponent in the EU - Chancellor Angela Merkel's statements about the European prospects for our country are a serious indication of support. Germany's bilateral support has increased over the years; investments in the Moldovan economy are increasing.

Germany is also supporting the implementation of important reforms. The Meseburg initiative on the part of Germany and Russia established the preconditions for dialogue about security questions relating to the Transnistrian problem. In short, Germany has provided strong support. Apart from that, the high levels of democratic and economic development in Germany are an important role model for us.

Iurie Leanca is the current prime minister of Moldova.

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