Status: 11/10/2022 7:29 pm
Moldova is an EU candidate, but depends on Russian gas – and is suffering from a severe energy crisis after supply cuts. EU Commission President Van der Leyen has now pledged 250 million euros in aid to the country.
A few children run through the center of Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. The sun is shining, the day is autumn-friendly, and for an old man, a visit from EU Commission President Ursula van der Leyen suits it well.
He appreciates the visit from Brussels: “It’s a great honor for us and the help comes at the right time,” he says. “We have a lot of respect for Ms van der Leyen. We are in a crisis like everyone else, but we have to endure this crisis that affects the whole of Europe.”
Russia’s war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine has also pushed up prices in neighboring Moldova. The EU-backed leadership is strictly in line with the EU, but receives 80 percent of its natural gas from the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. The latter has long used this as a means of political pressure, and this November Chisinau will receive only half of the contractually agreed amount from Russia.
Moldova’s neighbor Romania partially compensates for the deficit, but this does not solve Moldova’s energy dependency problem.
250 million euros from the European Union
“The EU is firmly on your side,” Van der Leyen stressed in Chisinau. While Russia is waging its brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, Moldova has opened its heart to Ukrainian refugees. About 600,000 people arrived across the country, of whom about 80,000 stayed. According to van der Leyen, it is an expression of European values and a clear pro-European and reform-oriented agenda of new EU accession candidate Moldova.
This is particularly interesting given the extremely difficult circumstances caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Moldova is facing a serious energy crisis with gas and electricity supply and affordability, and we will do everything we can to help you during this crisis.
Van der Leyen explained that the European Union will provide 250 million euros to Moldova. From January next year, 200 million euros will be paid for gas distribution, 50 million euros will be earmarked for the Moldovan budget, and will be spent on those in need. The average income in Moldova is just 530 euros, and many households spend up to 75 percent of their income on heating and electricity alone.
Inflation is nearly 35 percent
Growing poverty and low wages are not a problem in Moldova due to the energy crisis, says Georgiana Kreimman of the non-governmental organization “People in Need” in Chisinau. Inflation is close to 35 percent and wages are low.
There are people who can’t afford basic needs, who can’t have a hot meal for weeks, who can’t afford health care if we don’t support them. More and more people are in debt, and the severe energy crisis has caused 90 percent of people in rural areas to switch to coal and wood for heating because they can no longer get gas. If we don’t help these people, they won’t be able to heat their homes.
“Energy as a Weapon Against Democracy”
The Russian war of aggression has caused considerable social and economic damage to Moldova, Moldovan President Mia Sandu said at a press conference with Van der Leyen. Sandu called the connection to the European power grid a life belt: “We have the worst energy crisis in the last three decades,” he said. “The crisis of energy resources being used as weapons against democracy. This war through energy cuts is not only taking place in Moldova.”
An end to the crisis is currently unknown. Despite millions in aid promised from Brussels, private households and companies must continue to save. Music student Daniela sees it this way: “Of course I’m happy that we get help from EU countries, although they don’t have to do basically anything. That’s why this help is so lucky.”
Energy as a weapon – President of the EU Commission in Moldova Van der Leyen
Andrea Beer, WDR, currently in Chisinau, 10.11.2022 6:27 pm
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