World Bulletin / News Desk
Germany's Angela Merkel said on Thursday she hoped Russia's Vladimir Putin would not try the same strategy in Moldova as he had in Ukraine, and expressed support for the country's efforts to forge stronger ties with Europe, to Moscow's chagrin.
The chancellor, asked at a news conference with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis whether she thought there was a risk that Romania's eastern neighbour could be in Moscow's sights, replied: "Well, we hope not."
"There are many small steps that show Moldova is our close partner," said Merkel, citing the EU's attempts to offset the impact on the Moldovan economy of Russia's ban on imports of wine and food from Moldova in retribution for its overtures to the EU.
Merkel and Iohannis both said the crisis in Ukraine had put the spotlight on the situation of Transdniestria, a breakaway sliver of Moldova with strong ties to Russia, which Moscow has warned Moldova it could lose if it moves closer to Europe.
British Prime Minister David Cameron warned this week that Russia could try to destabilise other countries in easternEurope if it was left unchallenged over its actions in Ukraine. "Next it'll be Moldova or one of the Baltic states," he said.
The centre-right Romanian president said there was no need for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to take the part of ethnic Hungarians living in other countries in the region including Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia and Serbia.