As Moldova signs the Association Agreement with the EU, a lot of uncertainty remains among the Moldovans about what the gradual deepening of relations with the EU will mean for their country and their daily lives.
As a recent survey commissioned by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC) and the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) suggests, a substantial part of the Moldovan society – particularly the non-Romanian speaking population – is concerned about the consequences the integration will have for the country´s minorities. People wonder what will happen with their values, identity, and culture, which they see as different from those “European” ones, and at the same time lack the necessary information and answers.
With the ambition to foster a community-level public debate on the EU-related issues, particularly concerning the minority issues vis-à-vis the EU integration of Moldova, on 9-12 July SAC organized an already second European Café tour titled “EU Integration of Moldova: What for the Minorities?” that consisted of four informal debates taking place in four different localities and regions of Moldova.
Targeting especially regions with significant minority presence, the tour spanned the whole country: it kicked-off in Bălţi on 9 July with a lively debate of more than 50 attendees, gathering local community leaders, media, civil society and general public, then stopped in Chișinău on 10 July for a more expert debate with journalists, independent experts and students, just to continue with another dynamic community debate on 11 July in Comrat, the capital of the autonomous region of Gagauzia, finally finishing on 12 July in Bălţata village in the Criuleni rayon.
Intending to bring a new style and quality to a community-level public debate, the events were held in a very informal and open atmosphere, and featured interesting speakers of different backgrounds: these included local speakers of both Romanian- and Russian-speaking background, but also a number of motivating Russian-speaking experts mostly from Central Europe, who shared motivating stories and arguments from their Central European perspective – based on the region´s own positive as well as negative experiences preceding and following its EU accession.
The second European Café tour was organized as a part of the “Widening the European Dialogue in Moldova” project funded by the SlovakAid, which has an ambition to contribute to the efforts aimed at increasing the public support for EU integration in Moldova. The project will continue with another tour that will take place in September, focusing on the issue of education opportunities brought about by the deepening of Moldova´s relations with the EU.