Moldova: EU and UK Relations

MoldovaOn 2nd April 2014 the Bishop of Wakefield, Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received answers to written questions on EU and UK relationships with the Republic of Moldova, which borders Ukraine. The questions focused on:

  • the EU’s Association Agreement
  • election monitoring
  • political and military assurances about territorial independence and sovereignty
  • Ministerial contact
  • EU visa waiver programme
  • Tensions between Moldova and the autonomous regions of Transnistria and Gagauzia. 

 

Moldova

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other European Union member states about bringing forward the signing and ratification of the European Union’s Association Agreement with Moldova.[HL6224]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), discussed the EU-Moldova Association Agreement with his European Union counterparts at the European Council on 20-21 March 2014. The European Council decided to advance the signature of the Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia. Reconfirming its objective to further strengthen the political association and economic integration with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, the European Council confirmed the objective of signing the Association Agreements, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, which were initialled at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius last November, no later than June 2014.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any decision has yet been taken to send European Union observers to monitor the parliamentary elections to be held in Moldova later this year.[HL6225]

Baroness Warsi: There has been no decision to send European Union monitors to monitor the parliamentary elections in Moldova later this year. The United Kingdom supports, and would anticipate contributing to, an international monitoring mission, led by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE’s) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OHDIR), following an invitation from the Moldovan government.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what political and military assurances, if any, they have given to the government of Moldova regarding the territorial independence and sovereignty of that country. [HL6226]

Baroness Warsi: Since independence, the UK has been a steadfast supporter of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That will not change. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), have repeatedly made this clear to the Government of Moldova, most recently during Mr Lidington’s visit to Moldova in January.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans ministers have to visit Moldova or meet government representatives of that country.[HL6227]

Baroness Warsi: The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), visited Moldova on 28 and 29 January following the successful visit of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond(Yorks) (Mr Hague), in 2013. Mr Lidington met Prime Minister Iurie Leanca; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and EU Integration Natalia Gherman, leaders of the pro-European Coalition; leaders of the opposition; and the leader of the Gagauz autonomy, Mihail Formuzal. Whilst in Moldova Mr Lidington reiterated the UK’s support to Moldova in its European aspirations and support for the EU-Moldova Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other European Union member states about the introduction of a visa waiver programme between the European Union and Moldova.[HL6228]

Baroness Warsi: The UK has had no direct discussions with European partners about a change in UK visa requirements for Moldovan citizens. The UK has maintained a watching brief on negotiations between the Republic of Moldova and the European Commission and EU Schengen Member States on visa free travel to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. A formal proposal was made in November 2013 by the European Commission following the successful implementation by the Republic of Moldova of all its benchmarks set out in its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. In February the European Parliament approved the Commission proposal. It is for Schengen countries to decide on any changes to their visa rules. The UK is not a participant, so does not take part in the decision-making process. The UK is not expected to adopt or implement any changes as a result of the EU agreement. The UK will continue to require that Moldovan nationals obtain a visa before travelling to the UK.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking with their European partners to de-escalate tensions between Moldova and the autonomous regions of Transnistria and Gagauzia. [HL6229]

Baroness Warsi: The UK supports international efforts to find a sustainable settlement on Transnistria and supports the 5+2 process, in which the EU holds observer status.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers and senior officials regularly discuss Transnistria and Gagauzia with their EU and other counterparts. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), discussed the situation with Prime Minister Leanca; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and EU Integration Gherman; leaders of the pro-European Coalition; leaders of the opposition; and the leader of the Gagauz autonomy Formuzal, when he visited Moldova in January. The UK, drawing on its own experience of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland, is active in conflict prevention and confidence building work on the ground. Our Embassy in Chisinau runs events bringing together activists and political leaders from all parts of Moldova including Transnistria and Gagauzia to discuss shared problems and identify solutions. The embassy is also engaged in a number of other initiatives, including on the important subject of guarantees that could underpin the process leading to a settlement and an eventual settlement itself.

(via Parliament.uk)