In his first foreign visit, newly elected Moldovan President Igor Dodon, a former air force commander, will hold talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. In 2016, Dodon – widely perceived to be a pro-Russian candidate – beat pro-EU Mala Sandu, securing 52% of the second round vote.
Unsurprisingly, the new president has pledged to hold a referendum on his country’s EU Association Agreement. Moscow reacted angrily to the 2014 deal, implementing import restrictions on Moldovan goods in response. Mr Dodon’s promise to hold a vote on the contentious agreement is a not-so-subtle attempt to improve relations with Russia – Moldova’s largest trade partner. A vote on the deal is expected later this year.
Tuesday’s meeting is also expected to focus on increasing Moldovan pharmaceutical exports to Russia. President Dodon may also seek to secure amnesty for Moldovans living in Russia illegally, of which there are tens of thousands.
David is the Europe team’s leader and senior editor. David has a background in EU financial and immigration legislation.