WSJ: Biden Pledges Aid, Support to Moldova


CHISINAU, Moldova—U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a tough speech on Russian human rights, sided firmly Friday with this country’s Europe-minded leader over opponents pressing for closer ties to Moscow.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Vlad Filat and at an outdoor speech to thousands of Moldovans, Mr. Biden sought to boost reformers in this poorest of European countries. He called for the resumption of negotiations with secessionists seeking to break part of Moldova away and align with Russia. But, he said, such talks must be aimed at “a settlement that preserves Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He also sought to link Moldova’s democrats with the democratic uprisings throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“Freedom is in the air, and democracy is emerging in countries that for generations have known nothing but authoritarian rule,” he told a throng outside the capital’s opera house.

Mr. Biden, just weeks after becoming vice president, coined the phrase “reset” when he called for a new start on U.S.-Russian relations after the rocky road the Bush administration had with the Kremlin. In three days in Moscow, Mr. Biden tried to move that “reset” beyond national security cooperation to deeper economic ties. But he also pressed to see how firm the footing is for Washington and Moscow. In his Moscow speech, he named names of dissidents and Kremlin opponents languishing in prison or killed.

And here, as the first U.S. vice president ever to visit Moldova, he pledged $262 million in aid over five years, hailed the country’s 41-year-old prime minister, gave verbal support to democratic movements in Ukraine and Georgia that are pushing their countries away from Moscow, and demanded the immediate release of political prisoners from communist Belarus.

“You know achieving democracy is not easy, but you also know it is worth the struggle,” he told Moldovans. “As you continue on this journey, I promise you America will be your partner.”

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