European Council Summit: “To be” or ...”to be” for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova? What can decision be based on? IPN debate

The Summit of the European Council next week will decide on an existential matter for the Republic of Moldova, for Moldovan society and for each citizen apart and also for the states, societies and citizens of Ukraine and Georgia alike. The possible end scenarios of the Summit that will discuss the three states’ applications to obtain the accession candidate country status were discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Summit of the European Council of June 23-24, 2022: To be” or ...”to be” for Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova? What can decision be based on?”.

Dionis Cenușa, an associate expert of the Eastern Europe Studies Center of Lithuania, said the European Union is an economic and political organization created after World War II. Initially, the idea was to found an organization that would enable to establish peace and to generate prosperity on the European continent. This way, the process started with the elimination of the economic barriers between the principal economies in Europe – France, Italy, Germany. Later the process was extended to cover other states.

“We speak about an international organization with supranational powers. This means that the member states delegate responsibilities that are usually typical of a state. This way, the European Commission, as the main institution, but not the only main institution of the EU, can manage particular areas, such as the policy related to international treaties in the field of trade, fishing and competition policy. So, the European Commission is also a co-legislative institution that, together with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, develops the legislation, but the initiator is anyway the European Commission,” explained Dionis Cenușa, the senior contributor of IPN News Agency.

According to him, the candidate states are those that want to join the EU. For the purpose, they need to submit applications to this effect. The Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia made use of this right. However, to obtain the candidate country status, the given states should first of all have rather advanced relations with the European Union, for example, an Association Agreement. The membership application of a state is examined by the European Commission that presents an opinion based on questionnaires completed by the applicant country. Based on this opinion, the Council of the EU, which is represented by the national governments, is to adopt a decision on the method of assessing the applications. “It goes to the imposition of conditions so that the states that filed applications could obtain the candidate status after meeting these conditions. But it can happened that the Council of the EU is already satisfied with the conditions fulfilled by the applicant for the candidate country status and offers it this privilege,” explained the expert.

An associate expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives “Viitorul” Igor Klipii, a member of the Committee for Unity and Welfare, said that following the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainians to Russia’s aggression, Ukraine submitted an application for EU membership. This way, the neighboring country asked the European Commission to apply the values it has proclaimed and to support a country that is under a military attack.  The Republic of Moldova and Georgia somehow joined this process.

“The fact that the three countries are now at the same stage does not yet mean that they will follow the same path. If we look back, we see that this also implies particular failures for each country, primarily for us, compared with Ukraine, which is a huge country by its territory, population, potential, including its history. All these things do not favor the situation of the Republic of Moldova so that it could faster move towards a closer and clearer relationship with the EU. Georgia, which is smaller than Ukraine, showed greater firmness at a certain moment. Regrettably, it is considered to be oscillating somehow. As regards the pro-European message yet, this is more categorical in society there than in the Republic of Moldova,” stated Igor Klipii, Moldova’s former Ambassador to Lithuania.

According to him, it is now the moment for the Republic of Moldova to show character and to follow Ukraine’s example and ask for greater attention from the EU to Moldova’s fate. “On the other hand, each country should be examined separately. We are the co-signatories of a series of documents and processes within the Eastern Partnership. In times of peace, these statements were made easily, but when time came to act, the Republic of Moldova became more hesitant,” stated Igor Klipii.

The president of the Party of Change Ștefan Gligor said that for the absolute majority of citizens who follow the public agenda and for the community of experts and politicians, it is evident that the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia are not ready to get the candidate country status. But the situation is now exceptional and it is very important for the political leaders of the EU member states and the European institutions to realize how important it is, including for the future of the EU, to treat the situation related to Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia as an exception and with great wisdom.

“The European Union has always had slower dynamics as regards the enlargement to the East. However, when necessary, the political leaders, the European institutions mobilized and tried, to the detriment of bureaucracy, to see an advantage in faster enlargement. For example, we can speak about Romania. Today Romania is not the most efficient member of the European community. But enormous progress was made in Romania in fighting corruption, not yet absolute one,” stated Ștefan Gligor.

According to him, the European Union had the wisdom to take this faster openness step towards the citizens and communities of these states so as to improve their living standards. “Now I think a new huge wisdom decision is needed. Yes, the Republic of Moldova is now mostly a ruin from institutional, efficiency and corruption viewpoints. From the perspective of corruption, we are a catastrophe. Today, our neighbor pays a price that will influence our development course for decades to come. Until now the Republic of Moldova was permanently in a dilemma and tried to sit in two chairs so as to combine two systems of coordinates that have never been compatible.

The public debate entitled “Summit of the European Council of June 23-24, 2022: To be” or ...”to be” for Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova? What can decision be based on?” was the 253rd installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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