Tens of thousands of Moldovans have gathered in downtown Chisinau for a rally organized by the country's ruling coalition to highlight public support for further European integration.
The demonstration's aims were to signal internal support but also send a message to Brussels in the weeks ahead of a major EU summit in Vilnius on November 28-29.
Eastern Partnership states Moldova and Georgia are hoping to initial Association Agreements with the European Union at the Lithuanian summit, while Ukraine is expected to sign its Association Agreement.
But Russia, still a powerful trade partner and political player in the region, has intensified its efforts to derail those plans for Moldova, as well as for Ukraine and Georgia.
Armenia, another Eastern Partnership country reportedly under pressure from Moscow, complicated its publicly stated EU aspirations recently by announcing its intention to join a Russian-led Customs Union.
The November 3 rally in Chisinau ended with the adoption of a symbolic "Pro Europe" statement describing "the European option" as "the only correct one for the future of our country's major national interests and the only chance to ensure rights, freedom, and prosperity for all [Moldova's] citizens."
President Nicolae Timofti told the crowd that Moldovans will "have to work harder to reach European standards."
"But we can do this effort, for us and the future generations," Timofti said. "Moldova belongs to Europe."
Organizers claimed 100,000 people attended the rally, while other sources put the figure at between 60,000 and 70,000.
"Being here sends a clear message that Moldova belongs to Europe," Democratic Party leader and former acting President Marian Lupu told the crowd. "We want a European destiny."
Officials have suggested that Brussels and Chisinau hope to finalize the EU Association Agreement by next spring.
The Eastern Partnership also includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine.