Article by Carolina Bogatiuc, European affairs expert at the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS), former adviser and then chief of staff of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu.

Against the backdrop of escalating tensions in Ukraine, Moldova grapples with unprecedented challenges. Disinformation campaigns, hybrid attacks, and the pervasive influence of Russian propaganda increasingly plague our region. Oligarchic factions disseminate destabilizing messages daily, seeking to divide society and undermine support for the European Union and democratic values. 

A troubling trend emerges as pro-Russian entities increasingly seek guidance and political support from Moscow, launching campaigns and political entities directly from within the aggressor state.

In light of these challenges, initiating a comprehensive awareness and information campaign regarding the European Union, our European trajectory, and the benefits of EU accession is both urgent and imperative. Such a campaign should communicate in accessible language, ensuring every citizen understands the opportunities presented by EU integration. 

On one hand, we witness an unprecedented mobilization by oligarchic forces, while, on the other hand, Moldova is steadfastly advancing reforms necessary for integration into the European family—a realm characterized by peace and prosperity. 

As we approach presidential elections followed by parliamentary ones, a pivotal political juncture awaits us, including the EU integration referendum on October 20, 2024. This momentous occasion underscores the high stakes involved, shaping our collective future. Failure to act risks empowering Russian forces adept at sowing chaos and disorder. 

Current polls reflect a 56% pro-EU sentiment, with the western regions favoring another term for pro-European President Maia Sandu. Conversely, eastern regions harbor concerns about losing control in a state historically influenced by external forces. Now, more than ever, unity and mobilization are paramount to enshrining European integration as a national priority in our Constitution—a goal embraced by all political factions. 

The referendum outcome will determine the pace of official EU accession negotiations and our credibility in fulfilling commitments to European partners. Moldova must maintain diligence in homework completion to earn and preserve trust in the EU's meritocratic processes. 

The EU should act swiftly and with minimal bureaucracy to support our country's development, which has been stagnant due to fears of insecurity and the heightened risk of armed conflict on our border with Ukraine. The modest 0.7% GDP growth in 2023 underscores this urgency. We require investments and initiatives that yield immediate results, not distant promises. People prioritize tangible outcomes over mere aspirations. Can Moldova emerge victorious in this pivotal battle? Absolutely. The unwavering participation of all citizens consistently turns the seemingly impossible into reality—a testament to our nation's resilience and determination.