document.write(''); Tens of thousands of Moldovans are protesting in favor of EU membership - Simo Baha

Tens of thousands of Moldovans are protesting in favor of EU membership


Tens of thousands of Moldovans demonstrated on Sunday to demand their country’s membership of the European Union, whose bid to join the bloc has been precipitated by war in neighboring Ukraine.

The former Soviet republic of 2.6 million applied to join the EU last year and became a candidate country alongside Ukraine in June 2022.

More than 75,000 people took part in the demonstration in the center of the capital, Chisinau, according to preliminary police calculations.

They waved EU flags and chanted pro-European slogans.

“We have come to say loudly, confidently and proudly that Moldovans are Europeans.” President Maya Sandhu, who called for the rally, told the crowd.

He said his country wants to join the 27-nation EU by 2030.

“This is an opportunity for our people to live in peace and prosperity,” he said.

Fulfilling the criteria necessary for EU membership was “a path of great effort… but it is the only path.”

European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola, who also spoke at the rally, said the EU would support Moldova’s bid, adding that it was “already ready for European integration”.

Protection from Russia

Sandu told AFP in an interview earlier this week that Moldova was seeking EU membership “as soon as possible” as a defense against any threat from Russia.

In February, he accused Russia of instigating a coup in an attempt to seize power in his tiny country.

It already has a breakaway region, Transnistria, where Russia has deployed a small number of troops.

In the run-up to the rally, the government ran information campaigns inviting people to attend, and on Sunday deployed more public transport to make it easier for them.

“We want to live better,” Nicolae Basiu, a 73-year-old retiree from a village north of the capital, told AFP.

Aurika Baltag, a 35-year-old student from Chisinau, who attended the rally with her two children, said she would like them to have “a beautiful future in our country … to live freely.”

“We are going through difficult times now. The war in our neighboring country is very stressful for us. We hope we won’t be left in the shadows,” he told AFP.

On June 1, Moldova will host its first major summit for wider Europe, bringing together leaders from all 27 EU countries and the bloc’s 20 neighbors.

However, EU membership may take a decade or more to achieve, given the long list of requirements that candidate countries must meet to sit alongside other nations in the European single market.


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