Presentation of the policy brief: “New challenges and opportunities for resetting Moldova-Ukraine relations after the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova”

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On 27 May Foreign Policy Association of Moldova (APE) organized the special edition of online analytical debates APE Policy Paper Presentation: «New challenges and opportunities for resetting Moldova-Ukraine relations after the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova».  The study was presented by Natalia Stercul, Program Director within the Department of Eastern Studies of APE, and special guest Mr. Sergiy Gerasymchuk, Deputy Executive Director and Regional Initiatives and Neighborhood Program Director within the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”. The study is a part of the project Moldova reality check – Study visit to Moldova for the US and European experts, journalists, and public officials, funded by the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The discussion was moderated by the Executive Director of APE, Mr. Victor Chirila.

At the beginning N. Stercul presented main thesis of the policy paper. Natalia mentioned three main questions of her study: What is meant by resetting Moldova-Ukraine relations? What is the correlation between the opportunities and challenges of implementation of the bilateral cooperation agenda envisaged by the counteragents? What practical steps are to be taken at the high level so that resetting relations of the States was not just another populist cliché, but a real niche for the constructive relations and solution of past problematic issues?

In the view of Ms. Natalia Stercul, the process of resetting Moldova’s relations with Ukraine is an integral part of rethinking Moldova’s domestic and foreign development priorities, which implies also the review of our relations with neighboring states. The adoption of open and positive foreign policy of the Republic of Moldova, as well as withdrawal of the country from the international isolation – all these are extremely important for our country, states of the region and for ordinary people of these states.

The expert also mentioned that escalation of the regional security issues creates additional fears and dangers, reinforce the militaristic sentiments in the region. Issue concerning the territorial integrity of States is accompanied by higher risks under the escalation of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine. It requires strengthening of the Moldova-Ukraine security and defense cooperation, establishment the new platforms and forms of cooperation in security domain, and more coordinated, efficient, and strategic engagement cooperation and response to regional security issues.

According to N. Stercul the strong format of bilateral cooperation in the context of rethinking relations between countries could be based on coordinated political dialogue, extension of bilateral trade and economic cooperation mechanisms, strengthening the energy security through the diversification of energy sources, development of the infrastructure, market establishment and unbundling process for gas sector. In both countries there is the need for strict anti-corruption measures and reforms, constructive bilateral agenda of mutual cooperation and more efforts for building the common European future. Bilateral agenda of the joint cooperation is broad and its implementation depends on the political will, practical oriented measures, modern constructive approaches and quality of the work.

Special guest, the Deputy Executive Director of Ukrainian Prism, Mr. Sergiy Gerasymchuk expressed the view of the civil society of Ukraine regarding relations between our countries. Especially, expert mentioned significant changes in Moldovan-Ukrainian relations after the Presidential elections in Republic of Moldova. The creation of Presidential Council was a very important step to these changes. But it is clear that Presidential Council will not be visible unless the Moldovan President will not have the majority in the Parliament. Composition of the new Parliament is not clear yet and its provoke questions about possibilities to solve problematic issues in bilateral agenda. Political situation is complicated. Also, S. Gerasymchuk highlighted the possible mutual actions regarding the withdrawal of the Operational Group of Russian Forces from Transnistrian region. Special attention was paid to the Crimean platform – new initiative on the agenda of international community. Ukrainian part is waiting the participation of the Moldovan pro-European President M. Sandu on the first International Summit of this format, which would be held on August. According Mr. S. Gerasymchuk main problem of relations between Moldova and Ukraine is the lack of trust; among other things it effects trade-economic relations, energetic sector, and ecologic issue, including River Dniester problems.

During the question-and answer session, the Ambassador of Ukraine in the Republic of Moldova Mr. Marko Shevchenko took the opportunity to comment the importance of bilateral relations and kindly appreciated the quality of the policy paper and the interest to the Moldovan-Ukraine relationship. His Excellency also mentioned the importance of the trilateral format of cooperation between Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

The Head of the Multilateral Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Mr. Andrey Popov emphasized the importance of rethinking bilateral agenda, especially on the level of Head of States. Based on his previous experience Mr. A. Popov highlighted the priorities of Moldovan-Ukrainian relationship. According to Mr. A. Popov, Moldova needs an enhanced interagency coordination, a more focused strategic approach towards our relations with Ukraine, as well as a better information of our society about Ukraine, its domestic issues, and our bilateral relations.

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