BST Study Tours to Ukraine and Moldova
Ukraine and Moldova are close to entering an Association agreement with the EU later this month, yet their paths to the Summit are very different. Unlike its neighbor to the north, Republic of Moldova has a smooth(er) finishing lap ahead, before initializing the Association Agreement in Vilnius. This despite the fact that the country is under similar pressure from Russia, who banned imports of Moldovan wine, the country’s main commodity. There is also threat of a disruption in gas exports to the Republic, fully dependent on Russian gas. Despite the threats, Moldova is holding firm and pursuing its European path to, in all likelihood, start later this month, in Vilnius. Ukraine’s performance in and before Vilnius is still unclear, and signing of the Agreement is still not decided. Ukraine decided to react differently to Russia’s threats and incentives, and it remains to be seen how events will unfold in Vilnius.
To give European policy makers and experts the opportunity to look closer to developments in and approaches of both countries, the Black Sea Trust has recently organized two study tours to the two countries. Between November 10-14, Black Sea Trust organized a study tour to the Republic of Moldova. The tour gave the opportunity for selected policy makers and experts to explore the atmosphere within political leadership and society two weeks before the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, where Moldova is expected initialize an Association Agreement with the EU. The delegation discussed Moldovan expectations in Vilnius, as well as concerns with possible developments after the Summit. The delegation also visited Transnistria, the breakaway region east of the Dniester River, and met with the region’s leaders, assessing their view on future developments and the negotiations of Transnistria’s status.
The Moldovan tour has been preceded by a similar one in Ukraine, between October 27-31, where the selected delegation held talks with the country’s top politicians, strategists and business people. The Ukrainian tour, just like its Moldovan counterpart, focused on the upcoming Eastern Partnership in Vilnius and the challenges the country faces in the lead up to the Summit, but also on the current status of the country and the measures and reforms needed to improve the dire economic situation. A description of Ukrainian winding trail to Vilnius may be found in Ukraine and the EU: Who Blinks First, written by one of the participants to the study tour.