Despite recent tensions, Germany and France are pulling together on key issues such as support for Moldova, which has been hard hit by the Russian attack on Ukraine. At a donor conference for the ex-Soviet republic in Paris, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) pledged additional German aid of a good 32.3 million euros on Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron promised Moldova further aid of 100 million euros. Baerbock also held a bilateral meeting with Macron at the Élysée Palace earlier in the evening.
Like Ukraine, Moldova was declared a candidate for EU membership in June. The country took in hundreds of thousands of refugees at the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, of whom around 90,000 are further in the country. Located between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova with around 2.6 million inhabitants is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
Moldova donor conference promises winter aid
According to the German side, the German funds should be used, for example, to strengthen renewable energies, promote energy efficiency and expand municipal infrastructure. Russia had threatened to turn off Moldova's gas supply.
Baerbock emphasized the European unity in supporting Moldova. "We will not leave Moldova alone in the cold, in darkness, or in an imminent recession. Solidarity is the value that defines us in Europe and in the EU," she said. "Putin's intention is to blackmail dependencies with energy supplies. But that won't work. Moldova has friends and partners in the EU." The meeting sent out an important signal: "We will counter the cold winter with common values against Russian aggression and power politics from the Kremlin (...)." Moldovan President Maia Sandu thanked for the continued solidarity and support for her country.
A first donor conference was held in Berlin in April and a second in Bucharest in July. A total of around 1.2 billion euros was collected, which was promised as medium-term support. This corresponds to about one tenth of the country's annual economic output. Some of the money is for budget support, low-interest loans and long-term support, for example in the energy sector. How much additional help was now promised in Paris was initially not known.
Baerbock sees Paris and Berlin as setting the pace in Europe
Berlin and Paris are also pulling in the same direction at the climate conference in Egypt or in condemning the Iranian government's violent action against demonstrators, said Baerbock. Hopefully this Thursday the UN Human Rights Council will pass a resolution in support of the people of Iran.
At the end of October, the Franco-German Council of Ministers was postponed at short notice - it is now to be held at the end of January. The step revealed the bumping of the Franco-German tandem.
Colonna on Baerbock: Almost spending our lives together
Colonna stressed that she was optimistic that the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty on fundamental cooperation between the two countries would be duly celebrated at the end of January. Referring to Baerbock, the Frenchwoman said she was "extremely happy that Annalena is in Paris today". And that, although you see each other almost all the time, "not that often in Paris or Berlin, but we spend almost our lives together," said Colonna.
The fact that Macron received Baerbock was also seen in France as a sign that they were willing to get relations going again. At the same time, the French side also noticed that the President was receiving a minister with ambitions who did not agree with Scholz everywhere.
Baerbock, Habeck, Scholz: series of high-level meetings
The Baerbock visit to Paris is one of a series of Franco-German meetings this week. Baerbock's party friend, Economics Minister Robert Habeck, was also expected in Paris on Monday evening. This Thursday, Chancellor Scholz will meet France's Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne in Berlin.