For the French president, this is his first tour of south-eastern Europe directly affected by the conflict triggered by Moscow at the end of February.
Highly anticipated for weeks, his visit to Ukraine could soon take place in the company of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi according to media in Berlin and Rome. Information not confirmed by the Elysée, which specifies that “nothing is recorded” at this stage. It would be all the more important since France currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of June.
Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna and of Defense Sébastien Lecornu, will be welcomed at the end of the day at the Mihail Kogalcinearu base, near Constanta, the major Romanian port on the Black Sea, a location that has become extremely strategic since the start of the war.
Like the Baltic countries or Poland, “Romania is on the front line”, sums up the Elysée.
After being welcomed by Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, the Head of State will discuss with the forces of the Aigle mission, launched as part of NATO’s strengthening of “its deterrent and defensive posture on its eastern flank of the Europe”.
As part of this operation, France is deploying 500 soldiers, including 350 from the Army, from various units, including the 27th Battalion of Alpine Hunters from Annecy or the 126th Infantry Regiment from Brive. They form the “Spearhead Battalion” with 300 Belgian soldiers, who will be replaced by Dutch in the coming months.
Joined Wednesday morning on the base by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Emmanuel Macron will express “a very clear message of our commitment to NATO allies and European partners”, according to the Elysée, which insists on “the very investment significant” that it represents. France recently deployed a state-of-the-art surface-to-air defense system there.
This mission will continue to ramp up with a total of 1,000 soldiers and the reinforcement of Leclerc tanks by the end of the year.
– Support for Moldova –
At midday, the Head of State will be received in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, by President Maia Sandu, with whom he has developed “a relationship of trust” after having received her three times at the ‘Elysée Palace since February 2021.
The first French president to visit this country since Jacques Chirac in 1998, Emmanuel Macron, with Catherine Colonna, will express “support (of France) in the most direct way possible” for this former Soviet republic, particularly affected by the Russian invasion. of Ukraine, with which it has a common border.
For this, France helps financially and materially Moldova, which shows “exceptional solidarity” in welcoming Ukrainian refugees: more than 480,000 have gone there and 80,000 are still there.
With a population of 2.6 million, this country, one of the poorest in Europe, submitted its application to join the European Union on 3 March, as did Ukraine (28 February) and Georgia ( 3rd of March). A request on which the European Commission will decide in the coming days before being discussed at the European summit on June 23 and 24 in Brussels.
During her visit to Paris in May, President Sandu publicly welcomed the “initiative” launched by Emmanuel Macron to create a European political community, which she said will allow her country to “accelerate” its entry into the EU. “We understand that membership is a long and complex process, which requires a lot of effort and a lot of work. We are not looking for a shortcut on this path,” she explained.