The European Union has quashed the suggestion that Russia could be involved in a trilateral review of Moldova’s Association Agreement with the bloc, which its president called into question last week during a visit to Moscow.
Moldova’s new president, Igor Dodon, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (17 January) and raised doubts about the benefits the country’s EU Association Agreement has provided, claiming “we gained nothing”.
President Putin suggested that Moscow could play a role in that relationship and said “much can and should be done in the trilateral format”.
The EU’s Delegation to Moldova later told MoldNov that “the implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area is an issue of the European Union, the member states and the Republic of Moldova”, essentially pouring cold water on Putin’s offer.
Dodon’s main gripe with the agreement appears to be trade and the new president claimed that “we lost the Russian market while our exports to the EU also fell”.
Thanks to the agreement, the EU is Moldova’s biggest trading partner and around 62% of its exports are sent to the bloc, followed by Russia at just 12%.
Although EU exports to Moldova dropped by 11% between 2014 and 2015, imports from the Eastern European state increased by 5% in the same period.
Moldova is Europe’s poorest country and its growth contracted by 0.5% in 2015. Exports are also yet to recover to pre-economic crisis levels after falling 4.3% in Q1 of 2016.
Dodon hopes to cancel the deal, which came into force in 2014, if his Socialist Party wins a parliamentary majority in Moldova’s next election, which is pencilled in for late 2018.
Dodon’s election triumph on 13 November came on the back of a pro-Russia ticket and many observers have claimed that he will realign Moldova along a Moscow axis, away from Brussels.
In addition to his apparent disdain for the Association Agreement, Dodon has also opposed the opening of a NATO office in the country’s capital of Chișinău, as well as retracting the Moldovan citizenship of former Romanian President Traian Băsescu, whose country joined the EU during his time in office.