The week when Moldova was put on 

stage in Vienna ... 

"The week when Moldova was put on stage in Vienna"

By Veronica Cretu, with input from Dorina Baltag 

“Moldova’s Progress in implementing European Commission Recommendations” event took place on November 24, 2023 in Vienna, Austria. The event was a collaborative effort between the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Austria and the Slovak Republic and Moldova4EU Diaspora Task Force, with support from the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), Independent Economic Think-tank "Expert-Grup", Legal Resources Center from Moldova and Diaspora Relations Bureau Moldova.

This event held exceptional significance, especially in light of the EU Enlargement package announcements declared on November 8th, 2023, by the European Commission. Additionally, it gained greater importance in anticipation of the week of December 15, 2023, when it is hoped that the EU accession negotiations will commence. 

November 24th event emphasised the need for collaborative dialogue and informed engagement regarding Moldova's progress in addressing EC recommendations. It aimed to address the progress made across the 9 areas of recommendations, along with persistent challenges and the necessary support for future advancements.

This event served as the first in a series, aiming to establish a sustainable and recurring dialogue platform. This platform will ensure that key stakeholders, Austria based, remain continuously engaged, well-informed, and interconnected throughout Moldova's integration process.

The event brought together diverse participants, including Austrian public institutions, think-tanks, European diplomats, international organizations, and development agencies, along with representatives from Moldovan public institutions, civil society, and members of the diaspora.

Participants provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the event, highlighting a very positive atmosphere. The networking opportunities were valuable for fostering connections, and there was a strong sense of idea generation. Attendees appreciated gaining know-how from top experts from Moldova on the progress of reforms and engaged in constructive dialogues. Thematic presentations were well-received, delivering high-quality information, and the subsequent Q&A sessions were considered beneficial.

Participants noted the presence of an increasing number of high-level experts and public servants based in Austria, along with foreign diplomats, contributing to the richness of perspectives. Overall, the event was deemed great, with fantastic moderation, good speakers, and an impressively large and diverse audience. The initiative was highly praised, and attendees expressed eagerness for future collaboration.

Participants were welcomed by Veronica Cretu, co-founder of the Moldova4EUDiasporaTaskForce and the moderator of the event. Her role as a co-founder of the Task Force underscores the commitment by the highly skilled Diaspora to act as porta voce during these historic times for Moldova. Thus, fostering collaboration and dialogue in the countries of destination, and setting platforms where perspectives intertwine, and the path to EU integration is explored with depth and nuance.

In a comprehensive discourse examining Moldova's strides towards the implementation of the nine critical steps for European integration, esteemed keynote speakers shared profound insights on the achievements, challenges, and ongoing developments amid prevailing geopolitical pressures. Her Excellency, Ambassador Mihaela Mocanu, underscored Moldova's persistent efforts to navigate these crucial steps within the complex context of Russia's destabilizing actions and the security crisis at the European Union border. 

Iulian Groza, Executive Director of the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), emphasised legislative advancements in clarifying competences among anti-corruption institutions, underscoring successful cooperation between the government and organized civil society (CS). He noted the evolving role of CS, shifting from mere monitoring to active participants in the European integration process, particularly through their engagement in working groups for EU coordination. Despite these commendable advancements, challenges persist.

Adrian Lupusor, Executive Director at Independent Economic Think-tank "Expert-Grup”, highlighted deviations from standard methodologies and challenges stemming from key institution reorganization, reflecting obstacles in Moldova's public administration reform process. Limitations within public administration, such as a shortage of skilled personnel and financial constraints, underscore the complexities of the reforms needed.

Ilie Chirtoaca, President, Legal Resources Center from Moldova, addressed concerns about the absence of a national strategy on Human Rights but reassured that Moldova complies with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings. He delved into the complexities within Moldova's judiciary, citing concerning statistics where a significant majority of citizens lack trust (81%) and feel unprotected (67%) by the judicial system. Despite the unprecedented political will, the implementation of reforms faces resistance and obstacles, particularly in the context of pre-vetting and de-oligarchization.

One of the thematic sessions was moderated by Dorina Baltag, Independent Research Consultant & Founder of Noroc Olanda, and a Diaspora member. Vienna event's success and the model will be extended to the Netherlands in early 2024. This replication signifies a commitment to continuous engagement and the recognition of the diaspora's significance in contributing to Moldova's European integration goals. By expanding such initiatives, Moldova seeks to strengthen ties with its diaspora communities and leverage their expertise to propel the country forward on its path toward European integration.

Adding to the discussion, His Excellency, Ambassador Sailler, reiterated Austria's unwavering support for Moldova's integration journey. He shed light on the intricate complexities of the accession process, emphasizing the pivotal role of participating in integration-supportive platforms like the Three Seas Initiative and the necessity for tangible reforms amidst heightened diplomatic engagements. 

The event received Moldova dedicated promo materials from USAID & UNDP Moldova, through Diaspora Relations Bureau. These efforts were supported by Nadejda Zubco of DRB, and Natalia Cucos, co-founder of the Moldov4EUDiasporaTaskForce. 

Further delving into the context of Moldova's progress, Alexandra Sabou Advocacy & EaP Index Manager with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, Brussels based organization, highlighted pivotal legislative changes in areas such as elections and anti-corruption. These changes, reflected in the EaP 2023 Index, signify notable strides. However, Sabou brought attention to the considerable focus on justice sector reform, indicating the multifaceted nature of Moldova's advancement.

To summarise, the discussions underscored the urgent need to continue moving towards tangible reforms on the implementation level. In this regard, civil society engagement and vigilance were deemed imperative. The prevailing sentiment is one of cautious optimism, acknowledging the challenges while appreciating the momentum and the evolving landscape of EU enlargement policies. Moldova's journey to EU integration demands concerted efforts from both the government and various stakeholders, including civil society, entrepreneurs, mass media, academia, and the diaspora.

In pursuit of the essential reforms crucial for Moldova's path toward European integration, small group discussions explored on ways in which Moldova could address its current challenges, pertaining to the nine critical steps for European integration.

To address Moldova's challenges more effectively, aligning with the European Commission's recommendations, participants reflected on a range of strategies and initiatives:

The Austrian counterparts have also expressed interest in delving into additional areas such as mass media and the quality of education, Moldova’ progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation, fostering sustainable energy practices, finding solutions to the Transnistrian issue. This collective effort aims to refine Moldova's approach to European integration, foster cooperation, and create a conducive environment for comprehensive and sustainable reforms.

To be continued in Vienna and in other European capitals ... 

More photos from the event can be found on