Maia Sandu (pronounced [ˈmaja ˈsandu]; born 24 May 1972) is a Moldovan politician who has been the President of Moldova since 24 December 2020. She is the founder and former leader of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) and former Prime Minister of Moldova from 8 June 2019 until 14 November 2019, when the government collapsed after a vote of no-confidence.[3][4][5] Sandu was Minister of Education from 2012 to 2015 and member of the Parliament of Moldova from 2014 to 2015, and again in 2019.[6][7][8] Sandu was elected President of Moldova in a landslide victory during the 2020 Moldovan presidential election.[9][10] The first female president of Moldova, Sandu is a strong supporter of the accession of Moldova to the European Union, overseeing Moldova's granting of candidate status, and is considered 'pro-Western'.[11][12] She has criticised and opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and supported subsequent steps to reduce Moldova's economic dependence on Russia, frequently expressing sympathy and support for Ukraine in the conflict.[13][14][15] Sandu has made anti-corruption, economic reform and liberalisation a central part of her political platform, as well as closer integration with Europe.[16][17][18] In February 2023, she accused Russia of seeking to stage a coup of the Moldovan government and has continued to seek to reduce Russia's influence over the country.[19][20][21]

Maia Sandu
Sandu in 2023
6th President of Moldova
Assumed office
24 December 2020
Prime MinisterIon Chicu
Aureliu Ciocoi (acting)
Natalia Gavrilița
Dorin Recean
Preceded byIgor Dodon
Leader of the Party of Action and Solidarity
In office
15 May 2016 – 10 December 2020
Succeeded byIgor Grosu
13th Prime Minister of Moldova
In office
8 June 2019 – 14 November 2019
PresidentIgor Dodon
DeputyAndrei Năstase
Vasilii Șova
Preceded byPavel Filip
Succeeded byIon Chicu
Member of the Moldovan Parliament
In office
9 March 2019 – 8 July 2019
Succeeded byGalina Sajin
Parliamentary groupParty of Action and Solidarity
ConstituencyWest of Moldova
Majority49,955 (80.8%)
In office
9 December 2014 – 20 February 2015
Succeeded byPetru Știrbate
Parliamentary groupLiberal Democratic Party
Minister of Education
In office
24 July 2012 – 30 July 2015
PresidentNicolae Timofti
Prime MinisterVladimir Filat
Iurie Leancă
Chiril Gaburici
Natalia Gherman (acting)
Preceded byMihail Șleahtițchi
Succeeded byCorina Fusu
Personal details
Born (1972-05-24) 24 May 1972 (age 51)
Risipeni, Moldavian SSR, Soviet Union (now Moldova)
CitizenshipMoldova
Romania[1]
Political partyIndependent (2020–present)[2]
Other political
affiliations
Liberal Democratic Party (2014–2015)
Party of Action and Solidarity (2016–2020)
Alma materAcademy of Economic Studies of Moldova (BBM)
Academy of Public Administration of Moldova (MIR)
Harvard University (MPP)
AwardsOrder of Work Glory
First Class Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain

Early life and professional career edit

Sandu was born on 24 May 1972 in the commune of Risipeni, located in the Fălești District in the Moldavian SSR of what was then the USSR. Her parents were Grigorie and Emilia Sandu,[22] a veterinarian and a teacher, respectively.[23][24] From 1989 to 1994, she majored in management at the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldavia/Moldova (ASEM). From 1995 to 1998, she majored in international relations at the Academy of Public Administration [ro] (AAP) in Chișinău. In 2010, she graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 2010 to 2012, Sandu worked as an Adviser to the Executive Director at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.. Sandu speaks English, Spanish and Russian in addition to her native Romanian.[15][25]

Political career edit

 
Sandu with President of the European Council Donald Tusk with in the EPP Summit in Brussels, 22 June 2017

From 2012 to 2015, she served as Minister of Education of Moldova. She was considered on 23 July 2015 by the Liberal Democratic Party as a nominee to be the next Prime Minister of Moldova, succeeding Natalia Gherman and Chiril Gaburici.[26]

A day after being proposed by a renewed pro-European coalition, Sandu set the departure of the Head of the National Bank of Moldova, Dorin Drăguțanu and the State Prosecutor Corneliu Gurin as conditions for her acceptance of the office.[27] Ultimately, Valeriu Streleț was nominated over Sandu by the President of Moldova.

On 23 December 2015 she launched a platform "În /pas/ cu Maia Sandu" ("In step with Maia Sandu"[citation needed]) that later became a political party called "Partidul Acțiune și Solidaritate" ("Party of Action and Solidarity").[28][29]

In 2016, Sandu was the pro-European candidate in the Moldovan presidential election. She was selected as the joint candidate of the pro-European PPDA and PAS parties for president of Moldova in the 2016 election. Running on a pro-EU action platform, she was one of the two candidates that reached the runoff of the election.[27] Sandu faced open discrimination during the race for being a single woman, and was openly attacked by former Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin who accused her of betraying "family values" and calling her the "laughingstock, the sin and the national disgrace of Moldova" in remarks widely regarded as profoundly misogynistic. She rejected the insults in an interview, replying that "I never thought being a single woman is a shame. Maybe it is a sin even to be a woman?"[23][24] Sandu was defeated in the subsequent runoff by the pro-Russian PSRM candidate, Igor Dodon, losing the popular vote by a margin of 48% to 52%.[30]

As of December 2022, she ranks as the most trusted politician in Moldova at 26%, with Igor Dodon following behind at 19%.[31] One 2019 poll, conducted by Public Opinion Fund, showed that Sandu was the second most trusted political personality, polling at 24%, closely following Igor Dodon, who polled at 26%,[32] while older polls that year placed her lower, in sixth place.[33]

Controversies edit

In September 2016, Sandu instituted proceedings against the State Chancellery, asking to see the minutes of the Cabinet meeting at which the state guarantees for the three bankrupt banks (the Bank of Savings (Romanian: Banca de Economii), Unibank and the Banca Socială) had been approved.[34] Prime Minister Pavel Filip published on his Facebook page, the minutes of the last Cabinet meeting, when the decision on granting the emergency credit for the Banca de Economii was adopted. The minutes included the speeches of former NBM governor Dorin Drăguțanu, former Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici, and Sandu's own speeches from the time as minister of education. It is mentioned that at the end the decision was voted unanimously. The minutes were not signed.[35]

Regarding former leader of Romania Ion Antonescu, Sandu said in 2018 that he was "a historical figure about whom we may say both good and bad things". Her statements were sharply criticized by the Jewish Community of Moldova (CERM), who issued an open letter stating: "The lack of sanctions for [...] Holocaust denial and glorification of fascism in Moldovan legislation allows some opinion leaders and political leaders to not be held accountable for such acts, and lets them create their public image by distorting and revising historical facts and fueling inter-ethnic and inter-religious discrimination and hate."[36][37] Sandu replied to this accusation in later interviews by stating: "I regret that my words about the dictator Ion Antonescu were made an object of interpretation. [...] My attitude towards any criminal regime of the 20th century, whether Nazi or communist, which have millions of lives on their consciences, is well known and unequivocally negative. Ion Antonescu was a war criminal, rightly condemned by the international community for war crimes against Jewish and Roma people."[38][39]

On 21 February 2019, Sandu and the candidates of the ACUM electoral bloc, both of the national and uninominal constituency, signed a public commitment according to which after the Parliamentary elections of 24 February 2019 they would not make any coalition with the Party of Socialists, Democratic Party and Shor Party, and if this commitment were violated they would resign as MPs.[40][41][42][43] She violated this self-imposed commitment after agreeing to form a coalition government along with the Party of Socialists in early June 2019 as the only way forward to create a legitimate and democratic government.[44]

As Prime Minister edit

 
Sandu at European People's Party Congress in Zagreb in 2019

In the 2019 parliamentary election, Sandu's PAS, together with its ally, PPDA, led by Andrei Năstase, formed the ACUM Electoral Bloc and secured 26 of the 101 seats in the Parliament of Moldova.[45] On 8 June 2019, Sandu was elected Prime Minister of Moldova in a coalition government with PSRM.[46] On the same day, the Constitutional Court of Moldova declared unconstitutional her designation for this position as well as the appointment of the Government of the Republic of Moldova, which sparked the 2019 constitutional crisis.[47] However, on 15 June 2019, the Constitutional Court revised and repealed its previous decisions, declaring the Sandu Cabinet to have been constitutionally created.[48]

The next day, she called for the restoration of public order, discouraging citizens from attending local rallies.[49] In June 2019, she lifted a March 2017 ban by former Prime Minister Filip of official visits by government officials to Russia.[50] In one of her first interviews to foreign media, she announced her intention to request that the United States Treasury add Vlad Plahotniuc to the Magnitsky List.[51] In August, Sandu asked the State Chancellery to prepare a draft decree declaring 23 August to be the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism instead of the regular Liberation Day. The decree was opposed by her coalition partner, the PSRM, with Moldova's president and ex-PSRM leader Igor Dodon announcing that he would celebrate the date in the old style, rejecting Sandu's proposal.[52]

 
Sandu with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, D.C., 18 September 2019

Under Sandu, Moldova began taking steps towards the European Union as Sandu herself is pro-E.U. Sandu was ousted as prime minister on 12 November 2019, following a vote of no confidence. She remained as a caretaker of the office until the formation of a new government.[53] However, on 24 December 2020 Sandu took office as state president,[54][55] after winning a landslide election against the Pro-Russian Igor Dodon, and again on a pro-E.U. and anti-corruption platform. Under Sandu's leadership, Moldova is once more in a position to resume moving forward towards European integration.

2020 presidential campaign edit

Sandu announced her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on 18 July,[56] declaring that a joint pro-European candidate would not be needed as there was no risk of there being no pro-European candidates in the second round.[57] Sandu officially launched her campaign on 2 October 2020, holding two speeches in Romanian and Russian both promising to fight corruption and poverty, and to reform the criminal justice system,[58] while accusing President Dodon of deliberately hindering the latter.[59][60][61][62] Because no candidate received a majority of votes in the first round, a run-off between Sandu and Dodon was held on 15 November, in which Sandu won with 57.75% of the popular vote.[54][55]

She was congratulated on her win by senior leaders of the European Union, as well as Presidents Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine,[63] Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan,[64] Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan,[65] and Klaus Iohannis of Romania.[66] In her press conference, she declared that Moldova under her leadership "will secure real balance in the foreign policy, being guided by Moldova's national interests, we will have a pragmatic dialogue with all the countries, including Romania, Ukraine, European nations, Russia and the US".[67]

Presidency (2020–present) edit

Sandu was sworn in on 24 December 2020 in the Palace of the Republic. During the ceremony, she appealed for national unity, speaking in Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz and Bulgarian towards the end of her remarks.[68] Thousands of her supporters greeted her outside the palace chanting slogans like "Maia Sandu and the people!" and "The people love you!"[69] After the ceremony, she met Dodon at the Presidential Palace, for a ceremony in which Dodon officially transferred power to her.[69] That day, she met with acting Prime Minister Ion Chicu.

Domestic policy edit

Parliament edit

On 28 December, she met the parliamentary factions for consultations.[70] On 31 December Sandu named Foreign Minister Aureliu Ciocoi acting prime minister after Chicu refused to stay on in an acting capacity.[71][72][73] The ex-president of the country, leader of the Party of Communists Vladimir Voronin and the Leader of Our Party Renato Usatii[74] proposed their candidacies for the post of prime minister. At a briefing following her visit to Ukraine, Sandu also touched upon the appointment of the prime minister, stating that "Neither Voronin nor Usatii are suitable for the role of prime minister. We need a serious government, created following early elections."[75][76] On 27 January 2021, she nominated Natalia Gavrilița as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister, saying that she has the "task of creating the government team and preparing a government program focused on economic development and cleaning up the institutions of the state of corruption".[77] The very next day, Sandu asked MPs to reject her proposed Prime Minister in order to speed up the process of its dissolution and early elections.[78]

Sandu re-nominated Gavrilița on 11 February.[79] The Constitutional Court of Moldova declared the decree unconstitutional, reasoning that Sandu should have accepted a proposal from 54 MPs (primarily from PSRM) to instead nominate Mariana Durleșteanu, a former Moldovan ambassador to the United Kingdom. Sandu refused the proposal of the Constitutional Court and Parliament, saying, "I have said repeatedly that the only way for Moldova to move forward is to organise new parliamentary elections."[80][81]

Before the Gavrilița Government could be voted on, some PSRM deputies presented a list signed by PSRM, Pentru Moldova (including the Șor Party) and another 3 unaffiliated MPs for supporting the candidature of Mariana Durleșteanu.[82] Sandu declared afterwards that she would not continue consultations, but would not nominate another candidate for Prime Minister. Two options remained: snap elections or a referendum for Sandu's impeachment.[83] On 16 March, she again met with parties in the Parliament for consultations. The PSRM delegation was led by Igor Dodon, the president of the party, but not deputy in the Parliament. In the same time, without Dodon's knowledge, Durleșteanu announced that she was retiring her candidature.[84] After the consultations, Sandu announced that there was no parliamentary majority, and in order to end the political crisis, she named Igor Grosu as Prime Minister.[85]

More political figures, such as Pavel Filip and Andrian Candu claimed that Sandu had reached an agreement with Igor Dodon in order to hold early parliamentary elections. Some political analysts stated that the withdrawal of Durleșteanu was planned in order to get closer to snap elections.[86][87]

On 25 March, Parliament did not vote for Grosu, and the majority of the deputies left the building.[88] Sandu had consultations with all parliamentary forces on 26 and 29 March.[89][90] After the Constitutional Court declared the state of emergency unconstitutional, she dissolved the Parliament and called for an early snap parliamentary election on 11 July.[91]

The 2021 Moldovan parliamentary elections ended in a landslide victory for Sandu's Party of Action and Solidarity, returning 63 seats and winning 52.8% of the overall vote, the first time a Moldovan political party had been able to command an overall majority in parliament since 2009. The Constitutional Court of Moldova recognized the election results on 23 July.[92]

COVID-19 edit

During the visit of President of Romania Klaus Iohannis, he promised Romania would donate 200,000 doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Moldova.[93] On 16 January, Sandu said that Moldovan authorities would allow residents of Transnistria to be vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.[94] The first 21,600 doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine promised by Romania arrived in Moldova on 28 February, with the first administrations on 2 March.[95] Romania subsequently made more donations on 27 March 2021 with 50,400 vaccine units; on 17 April 2021 with 132,000 vaccine doses, fulfilling its promise to Moldova; and on 7 May 2021 with 100,800 vaccine units even though this surpassed the promised 200,000 vaccine doses. Moldova became the first country in Europe that received vaccines from the COVAX platform. The first shipment delivered in early March arrived with more than 14,000 doses of Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine.[96]

Sandu received her vaccination on 7 May with the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine after Romania stated its intention to donate thousands of vaccines to Moldova. Sandu had previously stated she would only receive vaccination when it was certain Moldova would have enough vaccines to vaccinate its entire population.[97]

According to the World Health Organization, between 3 January 2020 and 28 June 2023, there have been 620,717 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 12,124 deaths. As of 11 June 2023, a total of 2,288,948 vaccine doses have been administered.[98] Moldova is among the first countries in the WHO European Region to conduct a COVID-19 intra-action review (IAR) upon the request of Moldova's Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection.[99]

Supreme Security Council edit

In mid-January 2021, Sandu announced that the Supreme Security Council would be reorganized. On 21 January 2021, human rights activist Ana Revenco was appointed Secretary of the Supreme Security Council and concurrently adviser to Sandu in the field of defense and national security. Revenco's predecessor in these posts, Defense Minister Victor Gaiciuc, remained a member of the Security Council. The renewed Security Council did not include the Minister of Justice Fadei Nagacevschi, the Governor of Gagauzia Irina Vlah, or the director of the National Centre for Combating Corruption Ruslan Flocha. Nagacevschi, commenting on this situation, said: "I am glad that I was inconvenient".[100][101] Former President Dodon declared the Supreme Security Council to be a threat to national security.[102] His political opponent, former Prime Minister and leader of the Democratic Party Pavel Filip, was in solidarity with the ex-president, saying that "we are seeing double standards".[103]

Anti-corruption edit

Implementing anti-corruption measures was one of the central policies of Sandu's presidential election campaign and of her Party of Action and Solidarity.[20] Since 2020, Moldova's CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) has improved from 32 points to 39, ranking 91/180 among Eastern European and Central Asian countries.[104] Transparency International cautioned in 2022 that "despite some progress in improving technical compliance with recommendations from the Group of States against Corruption and other bodies, much remains to be done to overcome the legacy of state capture still visible in many organs of state." They nevertheless praised efforts made under Sandu's presidency, and concluded that "the election of PAS, which ran above all on an anti-corruption platform, can be interpretated as a positive sign for this change as there is a widespread consensus among the population that corruption needs to be curbed."

Reporters Without Borders improved Moldova's Press Freedom Index ranking from 89th in 2020 to 28th in 2023, while cautioning that "Moldova's media are diverse but extremely polarised, like the country itself, which is marked by political instability and excessive influence by oligarchs."[105][106] In 2022 the European Union's anti-money laundering body MONEYVAL upgraded Moldova from 'partially compliant' to 'largely compliant' due to significant improvements in the country's legal measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.[107]

On 8 June 2021, Sandu signed off on the creation of an extra-governmental corruption monitoring body after declaring the state's own institutions "too slow". The six-member panel of the 'Anticorruption Independent Consultative Committee' will be co-chaired by United States diplomat James Wasserstrom, includes economists, jurists and journalists and is partially funded by the European Union and United States.[18]

On 5 October 2021, the Moldovan government suspended the Prosecutor General Alexandru Stoianoglo in relation to charges of corruption, passive corruption, illicit enrichment, and abuse of office in favour of criminal groups.[108]

On 2 May 2022, former Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca was charged with abuse of power over a concession that gave control of the country's main airport to a businessman now in exile. The 2013 concession handed control of Chişinău International Airport for a 49-year term to a company associated with politician and businessman Ilan Shor, who fled Moldova in 2019 after the election of pro-Western President Maia Sandu. An appeals court ruled in November 2021 that control of the airport should return to the state. "Veronica Dragalin, head of Moldova's anti-corruption prosecution office, said a former economy minister and six other former officials also faced similar charges in a criminal case which she said had been referred to court."[109]

On 24 May 2022, former president Igor Dodon was arrested by the Moldovan authorities on charges of corruption for the receipt of bribes, illegal financing of his political party, and high treason against Moldova through links to fugitive Moldovan politician Vlad Plahotniuc. He was placed under house arrest on 26 May in order to allow prosecutors to investigate the allegations further.[110][111][112][113] The United States Department of the Treasury has also accused Dodon of corruption and conspiring with Russia.[114] He was released from house arrest on 18 November 2022 pending a court trial on all charges.[115]

On 21 March 2023, President Maia Sandu announced the creation of a new Anti-Corruption Court which will be set up to try major corruption cases, as well as cases of crime within Moldova's judicial system, as part of a broader move to tackle endemic corruption in the country.[16] As of 15 June, Sandu has continued to hold consultations and discussions with representatives on the text of the court's concept paper.[116] Sandu has also expressed her support for the establishment of an international anti-corruption court.[117]

Analysts argue that Russia's influence over Moldova's economy, as well as the power of Moldovan oligarchs with links to the Russian government, is a key source of the country's endemic problem of corruption and state capture. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moldova has been "flooded" with Russian propaganda and disinformation.[118] The United States has accused Russia of "deliberately stirring unrest" within Moldova, stating that intelligence showed "that actors, some connected with Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment an insurrection against Moldova's new pro-Western government."[119] White House National Security Minister John Kirby stated that "As Moldova continues to integrate with Europe, we believe Russia is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian- friendly administration in the capital".[119]

In 2023, Sandu announced the creation of an anti-propaganda centre to counter this disinformation and to improve the country's hybrid threat response capabilities.[120]

On 19 June 2023 the pro-Russian Șor Party was banned by the Constitutional Court of Moldova after months of pro-Russian protests seeking to destabilise the Moldovan government.[121] The court declared the party unconstitutional, with court chairman Nicolae Roșca citing "an article in the constitution stating that parties must through their activities uphold political pluralism, the rule of law and the territorial integrity of Moldova."[122] The party was led by Ilan Shor, a fugitive businessman who fled to Israel in 2019 after being convicted of fraud and money-laundering and sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia.[123] President Sandu welcomed the court's decision.[123]

Climate change edit

Moldova is highly vulnerable to climate change and related disasters, with an average annual economic loss of 2.13% GDP. The country's unique biodiversity is currently threatened by climate change, habitat fragmentation and over-exploitation.[124] Moldova is the European nation most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. "In Moldova, 60 per cent of the population doesn't have access to safe drinking water and droughts are becoming more and more frequent. According to the UN, the country suffered eleven droughts between 1990 and 2015, which had a significant impact on harvests. In 2012, the resulting losses amounted to €1 billion."[125]

On 25 November 2022, Maia Sandu addressed the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the challenge of climate change. She announced that with assistance from United Nations Development Programme, they would be developing and setting out the commencement of a National Climate Change Adaptation Programme, with a focus on the specific risks and vulnerabilities induced by climate change, and the opportunities to respond to them. She highlighted that "For the Republic of Moldova, climate change means severe droughts every few years, floods, ruined crops and livelihoods of people."[126]

The UNDP, Green Climate Fund, and Embassy of Sweden in Chisinau are assisting in developing a transition plan towards low-emission, green and climate-resilient development. She is quoted as saying, "climate change does not ask whether we are ready for it, whether we have the resources to respond to it, or whether it has come at the right time. Adapting to these changes will be hard. Building resilience will be difficult. Especially for us, because we have fewer resources, we are less prepared, and we have weaker institutions. But we have no choice, we must adapt. To resist. For our future and that of our children, here in Moldova."[127]

According to the UNDP, "A special focus is placed on exploring the mitigation potential through promotion of renewable energy solutions, which currently is standing at 25,06% in the total energy mix, energy efficiency measures and resource efficiency production and consumption. At the same time, support to the reform and modernization of environmental management systems conducive to green development and EU standards are being provided."[127]

Foreign policy edit

European Union and the West edit

 
Salomé Zourabichvili, Maia Sandu (second left), Volodymyr Zelensky and Charles Michel at the 2021 Batumi International Conference.

Sandu is a supporter of Moldova's European integration, the country's entry into the European Union, and the resumption of cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. When she received the president of Romania, she declared that "the Republic will integrate into the European space with the help of Romania".[128] Maia Sandu met EU and Belgian political figures in Brussels in January 2021.[129]

On 19 April 2021 in Strasbourg, France, she signed the Council of Europe Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova 2021–2024, an action plan of the Council of Europe with the aim of reforming Moldova's legislation and state institutions and introducing improvements on the country's democracy, human rights, and rule of law.[130]

After the outbreak of the 2022 Russian invasion in Ukraine, Sandu signed the application for EU membership on 3 March 2022, together with Igor Grosu, the president of the Moldovan parliament, and Natalia Gavrilița, the country's prime minister.[131] This came on the same day (and for the same reasons) that the country of Georgia also formally began its journey to join the EU when Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili signed Georgia's application for EU membership.[132] On 21 May 2023, Sandu held the public rally European Moldova National Assembly in the capital city, Chișinău, in which thousands of Moldovan citizens showed support for Moldova's accession to the European Union.[38]

On 31 May 2023, Sandu confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg that despite destabilisation attempts by Russia, she hopes for Moldova and Transnistria to join the European Union by 2030, and that the conflict with Transnistria will be solved through economic reform and anti-corruption measures. She also confirmed she will be running for a second presidential term in the 2024 Moldovan presidential election.[25][32]

On 26 October 2022, the United States imposed sanctions on nine individuals and 12 entities including two Moldovan oligarchs, Vladimir Plahotniuc (who had fled Moldova in 2019) and Ilan Shor, who in 2017 was convicted for $1bn in fraud and currently resides in Israel. Sandu publicly endorsed the sanctions and thanked the United States.[30] Further sanctions were applied on seven other Moldovan oligarchs by the European Union on 31 May 2023, which Sandu also supported.[22]

Romania edit

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis became the first foreign leader to visit Sandu in Moldova, arriving on 29 December.[133] As part of the Moldovan–Romanian collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic, Iohannis promised that Romania would aid Moldova with medicines, medical and sanitary protection equipment and 200,000 vaccine units.[134][135][136] When going to Paris, in a stopover in Bucharest, she met with the Prime Minister of Romania, Florin Cîțu.[137]

Furthermore, when asked about how she would vote in case there was a referendum on the unification of Moldova and Romania, Sandu replied that she would personally vote "yes".[138]

Ukraine edit

In a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, she confirmed that a visit to Kyiv in January 2021 would become the first foreign trip she will take as president.[139] During her visit on 12 January, she met with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where they agreed to create a Presidential Council to address issues of bilateral relations.[140] She also met with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal[141] and parliament speaker Dmytro Razumkov.[142] She paid tribute to fallen Ukrainians at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide.[143]

On 24 February 2022, Moldova announced it was closing its airspace because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[144] Shortly after President Sandu condemned the act of war by Russia against Ukraine, saying, "a blatant breach of international law and of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity."[145] She added that Moldova was ready to accept tens of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine after the Russian attack and vowed to keep the borders open to help, saying, "we will help people who need our help and support."[146] As of 6 March over 100,000 Ukrainian citizens had crossed the border into Moldova.[147]

On 1 June 2023, Moldova hosted an international summit for the second meeting of the European Political Community in order to discuss their response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as well as the accession of Moldova to the European Union and the possibility of Moldova and Ukraine joining NATO.[39][49] Attendees included Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron, Rishi Sunak, and Ursula von der Leyen.[44] Maia Sandu described the summit as "a testament to growing unity on the [European] continent" and a "resolute reaffirmation of our unwavering dedication to peace, a strong condemnation of Russia's invasion [and of Moldova's] continued solidarity with Ukraine".[39]

Russia edit

In an interview on TV8, Sandu declared that she is "ready to go to Russia" to discuss issues "concerning trade, exports, settlement of the Transnistria conflict" and others. She also noted that she intends to visit Kyiv and Brussels before going to Moscow, highlighting her more pro-EU stance.[148] On 11 August 2021,[149] Sandu, alongside other officials, met with Dmitry Kozak, the Deputy Kremlin Chief of Staff, where they agreed to lift all economic barriers between the two nations and look into the removal of ammunition depots from Transnistria.[150][151]

In February 2023, Sandu stated that Moscow had sought to overthrow her country's government, echoing accusations made by Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Sandu alleged details of Russia's plan of trying to orchestrate violent attacks in Moldova to overthrow the government and institute a government that would be more friendly to Russia and derail the plans to join the European Union.[152][50] The pro-Russian Șor Party was dissolved and banned by Moldova's Constitutional Court in June 2023. A commission was subsequently set up by the Ministry of Justice to oversee "the liquidation and deletion of this party from the state register of legal entities."[51]

On 5 May 2023, Maia Sandu claimed that Russia "would like to remake the Soviet Union. They want to bring back the old times. And we don't want this. Moldova has been part of the buffer zone for 30 years and for us this meant poverty, corruption, bad governance, emigration. We want to be part of the democratic world."[52]

Transnistria edit

Sandu has expressed her view that Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) should withdraw from the breakaway region of Transnistria, saying to RBK TV that, although they guard ammunition depots, "there are no bilateral agreements on the OGRF and on the weapons depots". She also stated that its her position that the "mission should be transformed into an OSCE civilian observer mission".[153]

In September 2021, during an interview at a local television station, Sandu was asked to describe the events that took place in 1992 and lead to the Transnistria War, to which she replied:

During the process through which we were trying to gain our independence, to become independent state, obviously foreign forces opposing our wish came to stop us, trying to create this danger. Things, obviously, have been planned from before, because if we look back in history that is how things have been arranged and organized so that we would always be dependent on the former USSR.[154]

She further explained that the Transnistria conflict was an artificial problem created in order to stop Moldova from gaining its independence and that other former Soviet countries experienced the same thing. Sandu also stated that Moldova is looking exclusively for a peaceful and diplomatic solution in the Transnistria conflict.[154]

Asked about her position on opinions which suggest that Moldova should recognise the independence of Transnistria due to the conflict's role in delaying Moldova's EU integration, Sandu replied that she totally disagrees with such opinions.[154]

Electoral results edit

Parliamentary edit

Election Party Votes Percentage Position
2019 (50th Constituency) ACUM Electoral Bloc (DA and PAS) 380,181
26.84%
 2nd 

Presidential edit

Election Party First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
2016 Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) 549,152
38.71%
 2nd  766,593
47.89%
 2nd 
2020 Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) 439,866
36.16%
 1st  943,006
57.72%
 1st 

Honours and awards edit

Honors edit

Awards edit

References edit

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External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Moldova
2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Moldova
2020–present
Incumbent