He stressed that he and his new Moldovan counterpart are united by common values.

To bring bilateral relations to the level of strategic partnership and to develop the guidelines of joint economic and political projects, to combine efforts with the aim of achieving membership in the European Union and to step up cooperation with Brussels within the framework of “Eastern Partnership” Program, to ensure security of the common borders and to liberalize international freight traffic these topics were the focus of attention of the presidents of two neighboring countries during their meeting. Zelenskyy and Sandu assured each other of their unfailing support of the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Moldova.

The agreement was reached to create a presidential council to solve issues of bilateral importance. Zelenskyy thanked the President of Moldova for her “not being afraid of calling Crimea Ukrainian”. He also underscored the unchangeable position of Ukraine regarding the Pridnistrovia conflict settlement. Zelenskyy said, “We firmly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders”.

Maia Sandu held a press conference after her talks with the President of Ukraine. Here’s what she said, “I was glad to be in Kyiv as a President in order to restore friendship between our countries at the highest level. The Moldova-Ukraine dialogue at the level of the head of States has been practically stopped. I confirm that Ukraine is a strategic partner of the Republic of Moldova. And to maintain permanent and pragmatic cooperation with Ukraine is an important task for the Republic and the institute of its President”.

The joint statement made by the presidents underscores the necessity to strengthen the interaction with partners in the southeastern Europe and in the region of the Black Sea. Both sides declared their resolution to speed up the integration of their countries with the European Union. The sides voiced their intention to build a modern highway and a bridge over the Dniester River in order to reduce the travelling time between Ukraine and Moldova to five hours. Also, the sides agreed to increase the volumes of Moldovan natural gas at Ukrainian underground storage facilities. There are plans to start the transit of European gas to Ukraine via the territory of Moldova and electric power from Ukraine to Rumania via Moldova.

Besides, the presidents paid special attention to immediate tasks which have to be carried out by two countries as soon as possible. These are the construction of a hydraulic facility on the Dniester River, the solution of border issues and stepping up struggle against smuggling.

Most analysts maintain that the visit of Sandu is of great significance for both countries. It is in fact the beginning of a new stage in the bilateral cooperation and the European aspirations of Kyiv and Kishinev. Says Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko, “The fact that Sandu’s first foreign visit was to Ukraine means that Kyiv is a key partner for her”.

Oleh Saakyan, another well-known Ukrainian political analyst, believes that the aim of the visit of the Moldovan President was to intensify the bilateral relations between the two countries. Saakyan stressed, “Under the previous President of Moldova, Igor Dodon, with his openly pro-Russian policy line, our relations have actually been stalled, minimized. Now, we can and have to strengthen our ties”. He also believes that Sandu’s visit has been necessitated by an electoral situation in Moldova. “Her intention to stimulate ties with Ukraine may be welcomed by many Moldovans. And first of all, by Sandu’s supporters”, said the analyst. “It is also important because Moldova is in the process of preparations for an early parliamentary election”.

Moldova is a parliamentary republic. And the powers of the president are limited. That’s why, Moldovan political analysts stress, Maia Sandu, who has the right to disband the parliament, has to initiate the early election which will make it possible to change the balance of power in the legislature where supporters of the pro-Russian Dodon have a majority. Otherwise, it will be difficult for her to determine foreign as well as domestic policy.

The newspaper Voice of Ukraine