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Moldovan President Says Country Should Seize Moment Of ‘Unprecedented’ EU Support

CHISINAU — The European Union regards Moldova’s new leadership with sympathy and has shown its readiness to help it fight corruption and reform its judiciary, President Maia Sandu has told RFE/RL, adding that the East European state needs to take advantage of this opportunity.

A U.S.-educated former adviser with the World Bank, Sandu defeated Moscow-backed incumbent Igor Dodon in November 2020 on a pledge to fight entrenched corruption and improve relations with the European Union.

“I’ve seen very much support and a lot of openness, unprecedented openness toward Moldova…which gives us enormous opportunities,” Sandu said on March 3.

“We must seize this moment, because the people expect responsible decisions and actions mainly in the fight against corruption and judiciary reform,” Sandu said.

Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries and is sharply divided between those who support closer ties with Russia and those who advocate stronger links to Brussels and neighboring EU member Romania.

“I would say that our country hasn’t enjoyed such openness in a very long time. We need to take advantage of this situation on all fronts, including in acquiring more vaccines [to fight the pandemic],” Sandu said.

Standoff With Parliament

The country has lagged behind the rest of the continent in the scramble for anti-COVID-19 vaccines and welcomed donations from friendly governments.

The Moldovan drug regulator last month registered three vaccines — Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the Russian-made Sputnik V — for use in Moldova.

The government this week said it expects a first shipment of vaccines under the global COVAX scheme for poorer countries. Last week, Romania donated 21,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the country of 3.5 million that has registered almost 190,000 infections and more than 4,000 fatalities.

Sandu, who is currently embroiled in a standoff with the parliament dominated by lawmakers allied with Dodon, has repeatedly said she wants to push for snap elections in order to acquire a working majority in the 101-seat legislature.

Moldova’s Constitutional Court last month rejected Sandu’s second attempt to nominate a prime minister, hindering her effort to force early elections.

Sandu had nominated Natalia Gavrilita unsuccessfully for a second time on February 11 despite parliament’s earlier rejection of Gavrilita.

The second nomination appeared intended to clear a path for Sandu to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

Sandu’s former party, the Party of Action and Solidarity, hopes a new vote would leave them stronger relative to Dodon’s Socialists.

“More than 70 percent of the people want early elections. Who are these lawmakers, who acceded to parliament through fraud, to act against the will of 70 percent of the people?” Sandu said, adding that the dispute could be eventually settled through a referendum.

“If no compromise can be reached, this conflict must be settled by the citizens in a referendum to either suspend the president or call early elections.”

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