Moldova: Press remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the launch of the EU Partnership Mission in Chisinau

EEAS Press Team

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Minister [of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Deputy Prime Minister, Nicu] Popescu, dear friend, Minister [Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ana] Revenco, Head of Mission, Ambassadors, distinguished guests and colleagues, I am very happy today to be here, in Chisinau, to celebrate the official inauguration of the European Union Partnership Mission in Moldova. Thank you for allocating this fantastic building to the mission.  

You know that Moldova is one of the countries most directly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Everybody is being affected – mostly the Ukrainians, and Moldovans also. In addition, Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova, with interference and with hybrid actions. 

I am here to send a clear message: Moldova is not alone.  You are our strategic partner. You are a future European Union member.  Today, the deployment of this mission is another important political sign of the European Union’s support in these current difficult circumstances.  

This mission will join another 12 [EU] civilian missions around the world. Here, we have the head of these missions – all of them [Stefano Tomat]. I know how complicated it is to manage 12 civilian missions all around the world. This will be another one, a very important one.  A very important one because here, in Moldova, we are facing real challenges, and that is why this mission is an innovative mission, based on three pillars. 

First, it has to contribute to strengthening the crisis management capacities of the security sector of Moldova. We all have been impressed by the solidarity that Moldova has shown with the refugees fleeing Ukraine. I was here in the first days when the war started [and] I witnessed this solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing and escaping Ukraine. I was also impressed by the professionalism of your services in managing it.  So, congratulations to the Minister of Internal Affairs [Ana Revenco]. This mission will also provide a further strategic and operational support to prepare you better for future crises. 

Secondly, the mission will assist in enhancing resilience to face hybrid threats - especially cybersecurity - and countering foreign information manipulation and interference, which is a danger that is growing and growing everywhere and putting our democracies at risk. This will require developing strategies and policies, identifying the necessary capacity building for early warning, detection, attribution of threats, and effective response to them. 

And finally, thirdly, the mission will have a project cell offering targeted operational support to help Moldova respond in both areas.  

Overall, the aim of the mission is to strengthen Moldova’s resilience. And once again, I am very pleased to be here with the EU Civilian Operation Commander, Stefano Tomat - please, Stefano, take a lot of care of this mission - and to introduce the Head of Mission, Ambassador Cosmin Dinescu.  

We are here with an initial team of 15 people [as] staff. This team will grow to at least 40 staff in the coming weeks. I want to thank all [those] who worked to put this mission in place, in a very short time. The deployment of this new civilian mission is part of our strong commitment to work hand in hand with Moldova on comprehensive cooperation on security and defence. Defence is not just the military [side], it is also the civilian side.

But also, the European Peace Facility (EPF) will be providing €87 million of non-lethal support to enhance national security, stability and resilience in the defence sector. I want to stress that it is non-lethal arms. It is non-lethal support, but you know, an army needs a lot of logistics, a lot of organisation. It needs a lot of things which are not arms and this will be provided by this €87 million of support. 

Allow me to say something that I think is important and interesting. Last month, we established a new sanctions regime to target people involved in trying to destabilise this country. Yesterday, we sanctioned the first group of individuals. They are Moldovan and Russian politicians and businessmen, linked to this famous “Bank Fraud” case, which resulted in huge losses for the Moldovan budget, such as Ilan Shor, or Vladimir Plahotniuc, or the parliamentarian Marina Tauber. Others, like Gheorghe Cavcaliuc or Igor Chaika, that are linked to efforts orchestrated by the Kremlin to destabilise Moldova through, for instance, the planning of violent demonstrations, by financial misconduct, unauthorised exports of capital, and support to the Russian Federal Security Service. 

This is the first time that we make use of this dedicated sanctions regime for Moldova. But this list is not final. We are ready to use this new [sanctions] regime any time again when we see attempts to destabilise Moldova economically or politically. 

Ultimately, the European Union presence in Moldova is driven by a shared goal: to ensure peace, to ensure security and stability of both the citizens of Moldova and the citizens of the European Union, because we are facing the same challenges. 

And by making you stronger, by making Moldova stronger, we make also the European Union stronger. So, you can count on our support. We are [all] in the same boat. 

Thank you. 


Q&A (at app 29:40”)

Q. On the security situation in the region, we are very close to the Ukrainian border, and considering the situation that has been escalating, I wanted to ask you if you agree with the recent statements made by the United Kingdom State Secretary Cleverly, that there are certain times when it is appropriate for Ukraine to attack a military target in Russia? The other security issue in the Balkans refers to the security in Kosovo. You will have the leaders of the two countries at the meeting tomorrow. Will you try to put them at the same table, considering that you are pushing for the accord between the two countries? 

You know, I am not a commentator of other people’s declarations. About the situation in Kosovo, I take this opportunity to repeat that the European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms the violent acts against citizens, against the KFOR troops, against media, against law enforcement, in front of the municipal premises in the north of Kosovo. And we stand firmly behind NATO’s mission - behind KFOR - behind our [EU Rule of Law] mission EULEX in fulfilling their mandate. They have been showing an incredible amount of professionalism in fulfilling this difficult mission. They deserve all our support. 

At the same time, I have to say that any unilateral action has to be avoided and calm has to be restored urgently. Violent protests and acts of violence are not acceptable. An investigation on what was happening on 29 May has to take place and [the] perpetrators have to be held accountable because the safety and the security of the citizens should be fully guaranteed. So therefore, we urge Kosovo and Serbia to immediately and unconditionally de-escalate. We expect Serbia and Kosovo to act responsibly and engage immediately in our facilitated Dialogue to find a sustainable solution for the situation in the north of Kosovo. The escalation took place against clear calls from the European Union, in particular from me, to avoid it. And it could have been avoided. Shall the parties fail to de-escalate, it will have consequences in our bilateral relations.  


Q. [In Russian - Can the EU protect Moldova against Russian threats?]

We know there is dissatisfaction from the Russian Federation towards Moldova, that is why we try to support you, that is why we try to support you with this civilian mission and by providing non-lethal equipment to your armed forces. And among them, there are radars that can scrutinise what is happening in the sky, and detect any attempt to attack you.  


Q. Is there any possibility that tomorrow, as part of the Summit, you will try and convene the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia in order to defuse tensions? And secondly, what symbol or signal do you hope that tomorrow’s summit sends to Vladimir Putin in Moscow? 

I have been talking with Prime Minister of Kosovo [Albin Kurti] this morning, a couple of hours [ago in Bratislava]. And tomorrow, I hope that I will be able to meet the President [Aleksandar] Vučić from Serbia to pass the same message. We need to de-escalate. We have to defuse [the tensions]. We have to condemn the violence against the police, against the media. We have to ask the perpetrators to be held accountable, and we have to de-escalate and go back to the [Belgrade-Pristina] Dialogue. There is no other solution. There is no other solution than Dialogue in order to implement the past agreements. I hope that they will be able to get it. But I have to say that we have gone too far and the levels of violence that we witnessed at the beginning of this week have to stop immediately. Otherwise, the situation can become very dangerous.  

And the message to everybody is clear: the European Political Community is something more than the European Union. The European Union is a set of countries linked by a lot of agreements, treaties [and] common policies but around the European Union Member States, there are many other States. Some want to become members [of the European Union], others do not want. But anyway, they share the same principles, the same values, the same attachment to freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion. And these are our values, this is our strength, this is our model. And it is good that everybody that shares this meets together in order to stress “here we are, a political community, refusing war, defending the United Nations Charter, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of everybody and in particular today, Ukraine”. 


Q. I am just wondering what your reaction is to the fact that it seems that President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey is not going to attend the Summit. Is that a disappointment? What kind of message does this send given Turkey’s importance as a geopolitical power and a part of this broader European community that this Summit represents? 

I am one of the most modest members of this assembly. I am not a Head of State or government, I am just the one in charge of building the foreign policy of the European Union. And surely I – personally – would have appreciated a lot to have here the Turkish representative and, in particular, President Erdogan who has just won the elections. 


Q. In your opinion, would it be appropriate in any circumstances for Ukraine to launch an attack on Russian military assets? 

I am in charge of building a foreign policy, and I am supposed to be taking very much care of what I am saying and of what you want me to say.  


Q. [in Romanian – on remarks regarding Moldova’s EU entry with a frozen conflict on its territory - Transnistria]  

There are precedents of Member States that became Member States having a territorial problem inside – that is the case of Cyprus.  


Link to the video (starting at 4:30): 


Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)460 75 45 53