Tens Of Thousands Rally In Moldovan Capital In Pro-EU Demonstration

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Tens Of Thousands Rally In Moldovan Capital In Pro-EU Demonstration

By RFE/RL's Moldovan Service May 21, 2023

CHISINAU -- Tens of thousands of people rallied in the Moldovan capital in support of closer ties to the European Union, as Moldova's pro-European government continues struggles with political crosscurrents from Russia.

The May 21 event, pushed by President Maia Sandu, drew criticism from some opposition parties and even some pro-European lawmakers, who said it was an improper use of government resources.

Police estimated turnout at around 75,000 people.

The rally, which featured an appearance by the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, came days before a meeting of the European Political Community summit on June 1, where Sandu wants to secure promises that Moldova will start membership negotiations with the European Union soon.

The summit will be the first such meeting of the 44-member grouping, which was the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The grouping is meant to improve cooperation between the EU and nonmembers, including aspiring countries in the Western Balkans and the Caucasus region.

Moldova was invited together with Ukraine to open accession negotiations with the EU in June last year, just months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

One of Europe's poorest countries, Moldova received hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in the aftermath of the invasion and became increasingly concerned about a possible spillover of the war.

Sandu, a former World Bank official educated in the United States, came to power in November 2020 on a pro-reform ticket

She replaced Igor Dodon, a Moscow-backed Socialist president whose term had been marred by economic doldrums and corruption scandals.

Sandu's push for closer EU ties has unnerved Moscow, which maintains open support for some Moldovan political figures.

Sandu's government has also accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country.

Russia continues to station more than 1,000 troops in Transdniester, a sliver of land between Moldova proper and Ukraine, ostensibly for peacekeeping operations and guarding of a huge Soviet-era munitions depot.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/moldova-pro-european-union- rally-sandu/32421209.html

Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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