Moldova and France: A Strategic Shift in Europe

Moldova and France have signed a defense pact to protect Moldova from a situation similar to that in Ukraine. This agreement, signed during the visit of Moldovan President Maia Sandu to Paris on March 7, 2024, aims to deter potential destabilization attempts by Russia.

Soldiers from Moldova. Photo: PFC Andrea Torres
Soldiers from Moldova. Photo: PFC Andrea Torres

The strategic partnership between Moldova and France signals a significant shift in the European security landscape. By vowing 'unwavering support' for Moldova amid threats of Russian destabilization, the Moldova France Defense Pact underlines Moldova's growing relevance in the eyes of the EU and its striving ties for over 20 years.

The new defense pact between France and Moldova

As part of the new defense pact between France and Moldova, several key initiatives will be implemented that aim to strengthen Moldova's defense capabilities and promote cooperation between the two countries:

  1. Establishment of a French defense mission in Moldova by summer:
    • This mission will open in the Moldovan capital Chisinau to facilitate dialogue and information exchange and discuss potential arms contracts.
  2. Investments in air defense of Moldova:
    • Moldova has already acquired a Thales-made French Ground Master 200 ground radar and is considering purchasing MBDA-made Mistral short-range anti-aircraft missiles to strengthen its air defense.
  3. Military aid and training by France:
    • France will provide military assistance, including training and equipment, with a focus on cybersecurity, counterterrorism and border control.
    • A particular focus is on improving Moldova's air defense, including the planned purchase of Mistral short-range air defense missiles.

Additionally, Moldova has committed to increasing its defense budget to 2% of its GDP and suspending its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, underscoring Moldova's seriousness in improving its defense capabilities in light of Russia's increasing military activity near its borders. The defense pact between Moldova and France, initially for a period of five years with the possibility of extension, provides a legal framework for future training, regular dialogue and exchange of information, and is a clear sign of the deepening of bilateral relations in the field of Defense.

Reactions and effects in the international community

France's pledge of "unwavering support" to Moldova amid threats of Russian destabilization and support for EU integration efforts have made significant waves in the international community. These developments underscore France's growing presence in countries that Russia views as part of its sphere of influence, such as Moldova and Armenia, and reflect Western efforts to bolster Moldova's capabilities and preparations in the face of perceived Russian threats.

  • International reactions:
    • The EU has imposed sanctions on individuals and entities that undermine Moldova's sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, stability or security.
    • Partners such as Romania, other EU states and the United States have increased their support to help Moldova with the stabilization and institutional changes needed to strengthen its capabilities against hybrid threats from Russia.
  • Importance of EU integration and regional security:
    • Paris fully supports Moldova's efforts to protect its neutrality, defend its territory and people and contribute to regional and international security.
    • The discussions also cover the intensifying hybrid attacks facing Moldova, underscoring the need for increased support from partners.

These developments are a clear sign of the deepening bilateral defense relations and signal a strategic shift in Europe, bringing both opportunities and challenges for the future of European security and defense policy.

Moldovans strive for EU integration and its implications

Moldova's pursuit of EU integration and its effects are manifested in complex developments and strategic measures that bring the country closer to the goal of EU membership. Reforming the judiciary and the fight against corruption are crucial factors for a successful application for membership in the EU. While Moldova's defense budget is small, the country is looking for ways to bolster its defense amid rising tensions with Russia and its support for pro-Moscow regions within Moldova.

  • EU support and financial aid:
    • The EU has provided Moldova with macro-financial assistance worth 2022 million euros in 150 to combat the destabilizing effects caused by Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.
    • In addition, 58 million euros in humanitarian aid were provided to mitigate the effects of the war in Ukraine.
  • Reform support and capacity building:
    • The EBRD has launched a Reform Support Team (RST) program to support priority reforms and accelerate alignment with EU requirements. This program spans multiple sectors and aims to empower local authorities and institutions with diverse and relevant perspectives to address the country's vulnerabilities.

Moldova's EU integration will be driven forward through technical and financial support, expertise in European funds and the involvement of a wide range of Moldovan civil society. Resolving the Transnistria issue remains a priority for European policymakers and the current Moldovan government. Moldova has established 35 interministerial working groups and a European Integration Office to implement EU laws and regulations into national law, underlining the country's intensive efforts to achieve EU membership.

Summary and outlook for the future

The signing of the defense pact between Moldova and France marks a turning point in the European security architecture and symbolizes Europe's crucial support to countries facing external threats. This strategic partnership underlines Moldova's importance on the European stage and builds on a basis of mutual cooperation and support to strengthen the security and stability of the region. The agreement not only demonstrates France's willingness to stand by Moldova on defense issues, but also sends a strong signal of European unity against aggressive actions.

Given Moldova's aspirations for EU integration, this step shows Europe's solidarity and underlines the need for further support and cooperation. Increasing connectivity and strategic engagement on defense and security issues are essential to maintaining sovereignty and democratic values ​​in the region. The international community's response and developing partnerships provide Moldova with a solid foundation on which to secure its future in Europe and maintain its position against external threats.