The Widest Europe: The Meaning Of Moldova In The Face Of Russian Aggression
Europe's leaders are in Moldova as tensions increase with Russia and in Kosovo. The summit is already making an impact as Europe pushes back against Russian interference.
CHISINĀU — One should never underestimate the power of symbols. All of Europe has gathered on Thursday in Moldova, just a few kilometers away from the separatist region of Transnistria, where Russian troops are stationed. The Balkan countries, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and of course, Ukraine, are present as well.
The European Political Community (EPC) is an unprecedented entity launched last year on a French proposal and currently in its second summit. No one knows for sure yet what the future holds for the EPC, but everyone benefits from its informal nature, allowing for valuable exchanges at a crucial moment for Europe.
The summit comes at an opportune time, as a crisis has erupted between Kosovo and Serbia, leading to the deployment of NATO reinforcements following street clashes. The issue at hand is the appointment of ethnically Albanian mayors in Serbian neighborhoods, a misstep by Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, which has drawn criticism from NATO allies.
The summit has already made an impact, as the Kosovar Prime Minister mentioned the possibility of holding new local elections in the tense areas. His intention was to try to defuse the crisis before Thursday's summit. Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would meet with the Kosovar Prime Minister alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. That’s what summits are for!
Suspicion of France
But obviously, the Ukraine conflict and its consequences on Europe will be at the center of the discussions. Yesterday, Emmanuel Macron took advantage of the platform provided to him at the Bratislava Security Conference in Slovakia to share his perspective.
The French President clearly aimed to dispel any ambiguities, misunderstandings, and what he referred to as "fantasies" before joining all the heads of state and government in Europe in Chisinau. This de-escalation operation intends to allow him a stronger influence during the EPC summit.
There is longstanding mistrust towards France in Eastern Europe.
There is a longstanding undercurrent of mistrust towards France in Eastern Europe, suspected of wanting to weaken NATO by advocating for European strategic autonomy, and towards Emmanuel Macron himself due to a number of clumsily worded statements about Putin and Russia.
All of Europe has gathered on Thursday in Moldova, just a few kilometers away from the separatist region of Transnistria, where Russian troops are stationed. The Balkan countries, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and of course, Ukraine, are present as well.
EPC Moldova via Twitter
Macron's stronger position
Emmanuel Macron was slightly self-critical on Wednesday, regarding France being perceived as "arrogant or distant." He went back in time by recalling — without mentioning the author — the famous statement by former President Jacques Chirac about Eastern European countries who "missed an opportunity to stay quiet." This was during the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Eastern European countries supported Washington, unlike France and Germany.
This humility, which, let’s admit it, is quite uncommon in France, has allowed him to outline the "political and geopolitical clarification of the European Union" that he desires, in order to address the challenges of the war in Ukraine, the post-war period, and also to not be at the mercy of American voters.
"You can count on France," he concluded. This statement will allow him to arrive in a stronger position in Chisinau, at a time when Europe cannot afford to make any mistakes.
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