Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday hailed the “commitment” of 500 French troops stationed in Romania to “protect” Eastern European countries threatened by war in Ukraine before visiting Moldova on Wednesday with support and a possible trip to Kyiv.
“It is France’s pride to be at the forefront,” said the French president, addressing some 200 soldiers gathered at the NATO base, Mikhail Kogalnicanu, where he landed early in the evening.
Embodying “European solidarity and security”, these soldiers were urgently recruited there in late February, a few days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. “Fundamental” commitment, insisted the President, “to prevent any attempts at destabilization and aggression against Europe.”
Four months later, “no one knows” how the conflict will develop in the “next few weeks, the next few months”, but “we will need to defend ourselves” and “eventually recover”, warned Emmanuel Macron, confirming the long-term creation of the French army. this base, located near Constanta, a large Romanian port on the Black Sea.
This trip was his first trip to Southeast Europe since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, initiated by Moscow, which, he said, is sowing “geopolitical” and “economic” chaos everywhere.
According to media reports in Berlin and Rome, his visit to Ukraine may take place later this week 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.
– “Efficiency” –
Accompanied by the new Foreign Ministers Catherine Colonna and Defense Minister Sebastian Lecorne, Emmanuel Macron shared with French soldiers Romanian dishes – sarmale (small cabbage rolls), polenta and papanasi (cream and raspberry).
He had previously met with soldiers from other countries present at the base, including about 2,000 Americans, 300 Belgians and Italians, and Romanians.
The President was particularly pleased with the “enormous effectiveness” of the cooperation between the French and their “Belgian Brothers in Arms”, working together in the Aigle mission, which is based on France under NATO command. The Dutch will replace the Belgians in the coming months.
Since the end of February, “we have been able to become an operational force very quickly,” said Colonel Vincent Ming, battalion commander.
Explaining that the Aigle mission will gradually increase: after the deployment of the latest generation air defense system, it will have 1,000 soldiers and will be reinforced by Leclerc tanks by the end of the year.
– Support for Moldova –
After an interview with Romanian President Klaus Johannes on Wednesday morning at the base, Emmanuel Macron will fly to neighboring Moldova, where he will be received in Chisinau by President Maya Sandu, with whom he has a “trusting relationship”. According to Elysée, he has received it three times since February 2021.
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 in early March, as did Ukraine and Georgia. Requests to be decided by the European Commission by the end of the week 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.