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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Norway boosts aid to Moldova

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide started this week not only with an unannounced visit to Ukraine but also to neighbouring Moldova, which has taken in around 100,000 Ukrainian refugees since Russia attacked Ukraine in 2022. Norway is also boosting aid to Moldova and opening an embassy office in the country to help distribute it.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (right) traveled from Ukraine to Moldova, where he met the country’s prime minister, Dorin Recean, among other top officials. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet

Eide traveled on to Moldova Tuesday and Wednesday after spending Monday in Ukraine. Norway is initially giving another NOK 70 million in humanitarian aid to Moldova, which is struggling to cope with its refugee influx. Formerly part of Romania and then the Soviet Union, Moldova already ranked as one of the poorest and least developed countries in Europe. It had many economic and political challenges of its own before Russia invaded Ukraine and made things worse.

Eide noted that Moldova’s capital of Chisinau is also only around a three-hour drive from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, which has been repeatedly bombed by the Russians. “No other country has taken in more of those fleeing Russia’s attacks,” Eide said during what was his first visit to the city. It came just two weeks before Moldova’s President Maia Sandu will make a state visit to Norway in early May, another sign of closer ties between the two countries.

Moldova signed a free trade agreement with Norway and other members of the European Free Trade Association last year. That helped pave the way for stronger economic ties, with Norway emerging as one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to Moldova.

That’s now risen to around NOK 490 million following this week’s donation of NOK 70 million to help support both Ukrainian refugees and their support families in Moldova. Civilian support is also helping build up the Moldovan state, to develop both democracy and social institutions for the long term.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not only set off the refugee influx but also affected Moldova’s economy, energy supply and national security. Norway’s foreign ministry reported that few countries have been more subjected to Russian disinformation campaigns than Moldova.

In addition to his meetings with Recean and Sandu, Eide also spoke with Moldova’s deputy prime minister, Oleg Serebrian, Norwegian diplomats already posted to Chisinau, and with Ana Revenco, director of the Center for Strategic Communication and Combating Disinformation. Berglund



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