Emmanuel Macron is expected to greet 500 French troops stationed at the NATO base after the invasion of Ukraine in Romania on Tuesday, ahead of a support visit to Moldova and a possible trip to Kyiv.
For the French president, this is his first tour of Southeast Europe, which has been directly affected by the conflict provoked by Moscow in late February.
According to media reports in Berlin and Rome, his long-awaited visit to Ukraine may take place in the company of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. The information is not confirmed by the Elysee Exodus, which indicates that “nothing is being recorded” at this stage. This would be all the more important as France currently holds the presidency of the European Union until the end of June.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Defense Minister Sebastian Lecorne, Emmanuel Macron will meet at the end of the day at the base of Michael Cogalchinear, near Constanta, Romania’s main port on the Black Sea, a place that has become extremely strategic since the war.
Like the Baltic states or Poland, “Romania at the forefront,” sums up the Elysee.
After welcoming Prime Minister Nikolay Chuka, the President will discuss with the forces of the Aigle mission, launched in the framework of strengthening NATO “its deterrent and defensive positions on the eastern flank of 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 are forming a “battalion of spears” with 300 Belgian soldiers, who will be replaced by the Dutch in the coming months.
Romanian President Klaus Johannes joined the base on Wednesday morning, with Emmanuel Macron expressing “a very clear message of our commitment to NATO allies and European partners”, according to Elysée, who insisted on “very significant investments”. France has recently deployed a state-of-the-art air defense system there.
By the end of the year, the mission will continue to build a total of 1,000 troops and reinforce Leclerc tanks.
– Support for Moldova –
At noon, President Maya Sandu, with whom he has a “trusting relationship” after receiving him three times at the Elysee Palace in February 2021, will receive the head of state in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.
The first French president to visit the country after Jacques Chirac in 1998, Emmanuel Macron and Catherine Colonna expressed “support (for France) in the most direct way” for the former Soviet republic, which was particularly affected by the Russian invasion. Ukraine, with which it has a common border.
To this end, France is financially and financially helping Moldova, which is showing “exceptional solidarity” in receiving Ukrainian refugees: more than 480,000 have left there and 80,000 are still there.
The country, with a population of 2.6 million, one of the poorest in Europe, applied to join the European Union on March 3, as did Ukraine (February 28) and Georgia (March 3). Request to be decided by the European Commission in the coming days before being discussed at the European summit on 23 and 24 June in Brussels.
During her visit to Paris in May, President Sandu publicly welcomed Emmanuel Macron’s “initiative” to create a European political community that she said would allow her country to “accelerate” EU accession. “We understand that membership is a long and difficult process that requires a lot of effort and a lot of work. We are not looking for a label on this path,” she explained.