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Chișinau, 3 October 2013
Moldova: With Prime Minister I. Leancă about Association Agreement and remaining challenges
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Leancă today in Chișinau Commissioner Fule made the following remarks to the press: ''Moldova's efforts to implement the European values make it an important partner for the EU and Eastern Partnership front-runner.
Political stability is an invaluable asset; it offers an opportunity to focus on reforms and concrete deliverables for the citizens. Moldova's citizens - on both sides of the Nistru – should know more about the benefits of EU-Moldova cooperation and the future Association Agreement. These benefits are real and concrete (lower prices; better quality; more jobs).
But the root causes of political instability remain to be addressed. This is a serious challenge for Moldova, for all citizens and for all parties - not only for those of the ruling coalition.
Moldova should tackle these causes without delay, in the political as well as in the institutional spheres. Constitutional reform, deep judicial reform, the fight against corruption and improvement of the business climate are of the essence; they cannot wait any longer.
The EU provides considerable means to help implement these reforms and will further step up its support, if Moldova engages in earnest on the path of institutional reforms.
Regarding the political association and economic integration - the completion of our negotiations Association Agreement in June was excellent news. We are now working hard to have the Agreement ready for signature next year, as soon as technical requirements are completed.
As a first step, we aim for initialling in Vilnius. We hope this will encourage all Moldovan citizens to take a sober, neutral look at the benefits that should stem from the Agreement, and more generally from closer cooperation with the EU.
As far as the current pressure of Russia is concerned - by its very nature, the EU plays no zero-sum game - confrontation produces obstacles, whereas cooperation yields solutions. We respect and support our partners' free, sovereign, and autonomous choices in international relations: we respect and support the Helsinki Principles.
I have already expressed my views on external pressure on your country - pressure that is incompatible with our principles. I can only confirm that where such pressure is brought to bear, the EU will stand by Moldova. To cite just one example – before the end of this year there will be no more quotas on imports of Moldovan wines to the EU.
We have also discussed the calendar towards visa liberalisation. The EU is committed to the shared objective of visa-free travel in due course, provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place. The last Commission report (June 2013) welcomed Moldova's significant progress in the implementation of its Visa liberalisation Action Plan. The next Commission report, which will be released in November, will set the scene for the way forward.
With regard to Transnistria as the '5+2' convenes in Brussels today, I want to re-affirm the EU's support to Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, I welcome the recent meeting of PM Leanca with the leader of 'Transnistria' (Mr Shevchuk). I encourage them to take forward the constructive spirit of this first encounter - to work together to defuse undue tensions on the ground and deliver tangible results to the people.
With the technical support of EUBAM (the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine), we are ready to continue to help shape and implement any agreement that will ease the lives of the citizens of your country, on both banks of the Nistru river.''