Experts Reject Popescu’s Idea of Joining the EU without Transnistria

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Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu’s statements, in which he notes that Moldova can join the European Union without Transnistrian region’s territorial reintegration, caused a wave of criticism in the public space. Internet users, as well as experts from Chisinau, question how the country can become a member of the European Union without possessing almost 11% of its territory. They argue that Moldova should integrate into the bloc with its entire territory. Chisinau Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said that Moldova can join the EU even without territorial reunification with the Transnistrian region. This statement was criticized in the public space. Former Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Alexandru Flenchea told that Moldova should be admitted to the EU only with a reunited territory, but the final decision is up to 27 member states of the European Union. “Membership in the European Union is assigned to states, not to individual territories. EU membership is not a concretization where you show achievements; decisions are made by member states. Issues such as unresolved conflicts and foreign military presence are dealt with by member states. As long as there is at least one such opinion in the EU, it is impossible to join the EU in a state of territorial conflict,” Alexandru Flenchea said. Igor Zaharov, public relations adviser to Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu, said that the peaceful reintegration of the Transnistrian region will take place either before or after our country joins the EU. According to political expert Mihai Mogildea, Moldova should make great efforts to reunite the country before it joins the EU bloc, in order to obtain a unanimous vote of the member states for admission to the European Union. “The EU accession process can take place even if the Transnistrian issue is not fully resolved. It means that in the European Union accession process, which may take several years, negotiations can take place even without solving the Transnistrian problem,” Mihai Mogildea said. Earlier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who visited Chisinau, said that conflict in the Transnistrian region should not affect Moldova’s accession process. For now, Moldova is waiting for the European Commission to assess the fulfilment of 9 conditions stipulated in the Notification on the granting of the candidate country status to join the EU bloc. The European Commission will meet in October and the European Council in December. Then a final decision will be announced, which could mean the start of negotiations on Moldova’s accession to the European Union.