Romania’s Iohannis will offer support to Moldova in the first visit by a foreign leader to ex-Soviet republic after victory of pro-European president

Romanian president will visit Moldova where he will offer financial and strategic support to Moldova’s new pro-European leader, Maia Sandu.

Mr. Iohannis will travel to Chisinau on Tuesday, the first foreign leader to visit the country, less than a week after Ms Sandu took office, after she ousted pro-Russian Igor Dodon in November elections.

The visit signals a thaw in bilateral relations between the neighbors which share a common language, culture and historic ties.

Although the victory of the 48-year-old former prime minister who wants closer ties with the European Union signals a new political era, the country’s Parliament is controlled by pro-Russian parties which oppose Western-style reforms. Ms. Sandu is pushing for snap elections.

After her win, lawmakers voted to strip the presidential office of its control over the intelligence services, in an apparent bid to limit her authority. It placed the agency under parliamentary control.

The European Union criticized the development, noting it came two weeks after Ms Sandu won the runoff. Moldova’s Constitutional Court later declared the new law unconstitutional.

Parliament also voted to confer more status on the Russian language, making it compulsory for state institutions to respond in Russian to an oral or written request from citizens if it is made in Russian.

The outgoing president focused his foreign policy on Russia, and virtually ignored Romania and Ukraine, Moldova’s other neighbor.

Lawmakers also voted to overturn legislation that had allowed the finance ministry to issue bonds worth 13.5 billion Moldovan lei to prop up the financial system after a massive banking scandal was uncovered.

The measure was passed as a condition for IMF loans in 2016. Former prime minister Pavel Filip said its repeal would harm the country’s creditworthiness.

„In the middle of a crisis, we are again subjected to a violent attack by corrupt forces. What kind of lawmakers are those that instead of allocating resources for people, cutting the country’s chances of obtaining foreign aid during a major crisis?” the new president said.

Romania’s presidential administration said Monday that the visit, timed before the end of the year would offer “ a strong message of support for the new Moldovan president at a historic moment for Moldova’s European path and (a message of) support for the citizens of the country, in their efforts to become m more democratic, and to irreversibly implement the principles of the rule of law and consolidate the European path and special relations with Romania.”

Romania will offer Moldova help tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and with economic and social projects,” a statement from the presidential office said.

Moldova has repiorted more than 141,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 2,900 deaths.

The two leaders will adopt a joint declaration pledging to consolidate the partnership, strategic bilateral relations, and “reaffirming the special relations” 10  years after the Strategic Partnership for Moldova’s European Integration.

Klaus Iohannis first visit abroad after he won 2014 elections was to Moldova in February 2015 when Nicolae Timofti was president.

After Mr. Dodon was elected leader of the country of 3.5 million, the pair avoided meeting each other.


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