VILNIUS – Moldova will have to carry out many reforms on its path to EU membership and energy independence is especially important for the country, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.
"As for any country, energy independence of paramount importance for Moldova in the current geopolitical context," Nauseda said as he met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Vilnius on Wednesday. "Lithuania understands the importance of this issue better than anyone else."
"I am pleased that at Lithuania's initiative, the European Council included Moldova and other associated countries into the EU's mechanism for joint energy procurement," he said. "I believe that it will give Moldova confidence to expand its energy independence from Russia."
Sandu visited Vilnius as Lithuania celebrated the Statehood Day, or King Mindaugas Coronation Day, on Wednesday.
Nauseda presented Sandu with the Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain, Lithuania's highest state award, for defending European values, human rights and freedoms, and for humanism and compassion toward war refugees from Ukraine.
"Lithuania and Moldova are countries that share respect for democratic values and the desire to live in freedom and peace and create prosperity for the citizens of our countries," the Lithuanian president said.
"Lithuania strongly supports Moldova's territorial integrity and sovereignty and its aspirations for European integration, and supports Moldova's determination to implement reforms in the country," Nauseda said, adding that he hoped that the Moldovan people would make the most of the opportunities of European integration.
The EU granted candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine in late June.
"Candidate status gives Moldova hope that, despite difficult times, we can change our country for the better, and that we have the support of the European community along the way," Sandu said.
"The European Union is by far the most successful peace project in our history," she added.
The Moldovan president thanked Lithuania for its long-standing support for her country's EU membership bid and for sharing its good practices and assistance in carrying out good governance and civil society projects.
According to Sandu, Moldova seeks to strengthen its authorities and the rule of law, and to develop its economy and "transform Moldova into a better country for its citizens".