It was dress rehearsal day in Brussels, Thursday 25 May. Forty-seven Sherpas and other high-ranking diplomats from all over the Old Continent gathered there to discuss the next meeting of the European Political Community (EPC), scheduled for Chisinau in Moldova on 1er June. For the second time, the European Heads of State and Government – the Twenty-Seven and most of their neighbours, apart from Russia and Belarus – will meet in this recent format, the purpose of which remains, to this day, poorly defined.
While in the face of Moscow’s expansionism, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, like the Western Balkans, are knocking on the door of the European Union (EU), French President Emmanuel Macron had, on 9 May 2022, floated the idea of CPE, arguing that “the EU cannot be the only means of structuring the continent”. Despite the initial skepticism of its European partners, starting with Germany, and the concern of EU candidate countries, who feared that this initiative was intended to replace enlargement, it saw the light of day.
Forty-four Heads of State and Government attended the launch of the CPE on October 6 in Prague and there could be forty-seven (Andorra, San Marino and Monaco have joined the club, Ankara will only respond to the invitation ‘after the second round of the Turkish presidential election on May 28) to travel to Chisinau. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will also be there, at least virtually, and perhaps in the flesh.
A high risk summit
In recent weeks, Brussels, Paris, London or Bucharest have spared no effort to help Chisinau to prepare for this summit with high logistical and security risks. Not only are the Moldovan infrastructures – airport, hotel, cars… – not calibrated for the size of the event, but the capital is also less than 200 kilometers from Odessa. “The question is whether Russia will try to disrupt the Chisinau meeting”notes MEP (Horizons) Nathalie Loiseau.
The family photo, which will be taken at Mimi Castle, about 30 kilometers from Chisinau, will show a united continent against a belligerent Russia and, by this fact alone, will send a strong message to the Kremlin and the rest of the world. For Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 2.6 million inhabitants where Moscow has important relays and multiplies attempts at destabilization, the stakes are high.