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Romania Blocks Critical EU Text About Moldova

(illustrative photo)
(illustrative photo)

BRUSSELS -- Romania has blocked European Union foreign ministers from adopting recent conclusions by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council that are critical of Moldova, several EU diplomats have told RFE/RL.

The conclusions, which have to be unanimously approved by the Foreign Affairs Council, originally were scheduled to be adopted by the EU ministers without discussion when they meet in Brussels on December 10.

But diplomatic sources familiar with the matter told RFE/RL that Romania, supported by Hungary, moved against having a vote on the draft text at the December 10 meeting.

The sources say Romania made the move earlier this week when EU diplomats met to discuss the draft text.

They say Bucharest made its opposition to the text "very clear," and that no attempts to try to put the document on the agenda of the December 10 meeting will be made.

The draft text, which has been seen by RFE/RL, says "a commitment to democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights is at the core" of the EU’s Association Agreement with Moldova.

But it says developments in Moldova since February, "including the invalidation of the mayoral elections in Chisinau," have "raised significant concerns" about Moldova’s commitment.

The document says EU foreign ministers expect that parliamentary elections scheduled for February 2019 in Moldova "will be conducted in line with international standards, respecting democratic principles and ensuring a credible, transparent and inclusive process."

The draft text also expresses concern about "the growing number of reported cases involving pressure and intimidation" in Moldova

It calls on Moldovan authorities to ensure that candidates have access to media and receive equal opportunities to stand in the elections, including those in single mandate districts.

It also urges Moldova to ensure there is "an appropriate number of polling stations" both within the country and abroad.

The conclusions were meant to be voted upon after the European Commission decided to cut financial assistance to Moldova by about $22.7 million per year for both 2017 and 2018 amid concerns about the rule of law and backsliding on democratic norms.

The Commission also has suspended a $113 million macrofinancial assistance (MFA) program for Moldova until further notice.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.