Foreign policy and defense
Moldova is a nation in Eastern Europe. Its capital city is Chisinau. The most important issues in Moldovan foreign policy concern the country’s relations with Romania, Russia and the EU. As Moldova approaches the EU, relations with the Moscow government have deteriorated.
Tensions between Moldova and Russia increased in 2014, partly because of the concern created by Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in the region in March, and partly because of Moscow’s negative reaction to the EU-Moldova association figure signed in June of that year. The Moldovan outbreak state Transnistria’s strong connection to Russia is based on the problems.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Moldova for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Relationship with Romania
Moldova’s relationship with Romania was complicated for a long time. When Moldova declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the reactions from Romania were mixed. The neighboring country was the first nation to recognize Moldova’s independence, while many Romanian politicians expressed a desire to eventually see a reunion between Moldova and Romania (see Older History). Relations became progressively more relaxed as the issue of reunification lost significance during the 1990s.
When the Communist Party regained its power in Moldova in 2001, relations with Romania deteriorated again. The municipal government accused the neighboring country of supporting the opposition in Moldova. The situation worsened when Romania became an EU member in 2007. Even before EU accession, Romania had allowed all Moldavians to apply for Romanian citizenship while retaining their Moldovan citizenship. President Voronin, also leader of the Communist Party, accused Romania of “permanent aggression” against Moldova. When street riots erupted after the communist election victory in April 2009, Voronin accused Romania of being behind the riots, which he called a coup attempt. Subsequently, Moldova imposed a compulsory visa for Romanian citizens.
Since the summer of 2009, when the EU-friendly center-right parties won government power in a recent election, relations with Romania have been good. Romania supports Moldova’s efforts to adapt to the EU. Freedom of movement across the Moldovan-Romanian border has increased since the change of power and poorer Moldova receives aid from Romania.
Relations with the EU
Moldova’s proximity to the EU aims to eventually become a member of the Union. However, the obstacles on the way there are several. The biggest is the unresolved conflict over the future status of the Transnistrian state (see special chapter), but Moldova must also curb widespread corruption, as well as reform both the economy and the judiciary, before an EU membership can become relevant. In addition, measurements show that the previously so strong public opinion for an EU entry has cooled down as poor Moldavians felt that EU adaptation did not live up to their expectations of a higher standard of living.
Moldova joined the Stability Pact for the Balkans in 2001 and thereafter the EU’s cooperation program ENP. In 2007, the EU opened an office in Chișinău for visa applications to Member States. Moldova has been a member of the EU’s Eastern Partnership since 2009 together with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. In 2012, negotiations started on setting up a free trade area with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
In April 2014, visa freedom was introduced for Moldovan citizens in the EU Schengen area, and in June of the same year Moldova, together with Ukraine and Georgia, signed an association agreement with the EU. The agreement gradually gives Moldovan companies free access to the EU internal market. The agreement also provides Moldova with technical and economic development support. In return, Moldova commits itself to living up to the EU’s demands for respect for democracy and human rights, to fight corruption, to strengthen the rule of law and to reform the economy.
Relations with Russia
Moldova has since been dependent on Russia for its energy supply and exports, although dependence has diminished as the EU approaches. A major stumbling block in relations is the conflict over Transnistria, in particular the Russian military presence in the breakaway republic (see special chapter).
Relations with Russia were strained throughout the 1990s, but they improved after the Communists regained power in Moldova in 2001. During their first two years of government, the Communist government approached Russia, but when attempts to resolve the conflict in Transnistria failed, the relationship became colder. An agreement was signed in 1994 between Moldova and Russia on Russian retreat, but the process has stalled. In 1999, Russia promised that all Russian soldiers who were not part of the peacekeeping force would have left the area in 2002, but about 1,500 Russian soldiers still remain in the breakaway republic.
Before the 2005 parliamentary elections, the relationship had become so strained that the Moldovan Communist government accused Russia of supporting the opposition. Moldova invited election observers from the EU, but refused to election observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Relations deteriorated further in 2006-2007 when Russia raised the price of gas and introduced temporary import stops for Moldovan wine.
Increased pressure from Moscow
The new Western-friendly government that took office in 2009 was keen to have good relations with both the EU and Russia. It described itself as “a bridge between east and west”. However, when it became clear that its highest priority was approaching Europe, Russian relations deteriorated. In 2010 and 2013, Russia again introduced temporary stops for Moldovan wine imports.
From autumn 2013, relations with Russia deteriorated significantly when Moscow warned Moldova of “serious consequences” if the country signed an association agreement with the EU. Moscow understood that such an agreement would hamper attempts to resolve the conflict around Transnistria, which is a prerequisite for Moldovan EU membership. Russia also hinted that gas prices could be raised this winter. The President of Moldova declared that the country was determined to forge closer ties with the EU. To further exert pressure, Russia again halted wine imports from Moldova.
Following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014, great concern arose in Moldova for Transnistria to become the next target in Moscow’s feared plans to recapture parts of the former Soviet Union. Tensions rose as one of the outbreak state’s political leaders appealed to Moscow to occupy the area. Moldova responded by raising readiness for the Transnistrian border.
When Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU three months later, Russia responded by signing a series of cooperation agreements with Transnistria. Russia also reacted outraged when a strongly pro-Russian party was refused to participate in the Moldavian election, shortly before Election Day, on the grounds that it had received money from foreign power. The Russian Foreign Ministry said “serious rule violations” had occurred in the elections, including hundreds of thousands of Moldavans living in Russia could not vote.
The match at the top
As a result of the election of Russia-friendly socialist Igor Dodon as president in the fall of 2016, a split occurred around the country’s foreign policy line. While the government wanted to hold on to the EU-friendly line, Dodon advocated closer relations with Russia. Dodon wanted the cooperation agreement with the EU to be torn down and Moldova to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, which, in addition to Russia, consists of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. In May 2018, Moldova was granted the first observer status in the Union.
Cooperation with the EU has continued, but in the summer of 2018 tensions arose in the relationship. After the opposition won the mayor’s election in the capital, the election was annulled, prompting the EU to strongly criticize Moldova and decide to withhold over a hundred million euros in aid (see Calendar).
With Ukraine, relations were strained in the early 1990s due to disputes over certain border areas and the then government’s nationalist policies in Moldova. Tensions eased in 1992 when Ukraine joined Moldova in the conflict with Transnistria. In 1999, Moldova and Ukraine were able to resolve their remaining border disputes.
Moldova’s relations with the United States are good. The Americans provide aid for the privatization of state property in Moldova and the US cooperates militarily with the country to some extent. In 2011, Moldova was visited by US Vice President Joe Biden, who emphasized that the United States continues to support Moldova’s pursuit of political and economic reforms. In the context of the Crimean crisis in March 2014, the United States gave $ 10 million to Moldova to strengthen its border protection against Transnistria. In June of that year, US President Barack Obama took the initiative to assure the US European Allies of US military support in the light of the crisis in Ukraine. The initiative also included states that are not members of NATO. For Moldova, it would help to strengthen the defense. A few days later, the United States pledged $ 8 million in support of Moldova’s EU alignment.
Relations with Turkey have improved as the government of Ankara supported the moderate forces of Turkish-speaking residents of the autonomous region of Gagauzi and urged them to negotiate with the Moldovan government (see Political system).
Moldova was one of the founders of the US. The country became a member in 1991, but it took until 1994 before Parliament approved the membership. The country does not participate in the military cooperation of the CIS states.
Moldova joined the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994, but has not applied for membership in the Defense Alliance even if some cooperation exists, including joint exercises.
The defense is based on general military duty for one year. Moldovan soldiers participate in operations abroad under the command of the UN, NATO or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Osse. Moldova, for example, has a troop in the NATO-led Kfor force in Kosovo.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 3 250 men (2017)
The air Force: 800 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.4 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.0 percent (2017)