The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance will open a security cooperation center in central Moldova, a tiny European country in turmoil from the East/West struggle between Moscow an Brussels.
The agreement, announced Thursday after a meeting between NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Moldova’s prime minister Pavel Filip, is part of an effort to establish closer ties, even though Moldova has no plans to join the 29-nation alliance, reported Stars and Stripes. The NATO liaison office will be staffed by civilians and will “support dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Moldova,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
For its part, Moldova declared it will remain ‘neutral’.
“I just want to mention that not only the minister of defense pleads for more profound cooperation with the alliance — this was said also by myself as prime minister during my first visit here to NATO,” Filip said.
“For those who are skeptical and who critique this cooperation with NATO, they should not forget that neutrality does not mean isolation.”
Moldova has been in constant turmoil since the theft of one fifth of its treasury by corrupt officials and alleged Russian operatives. The new government has prosecuted the former prime minister as well as local oligarchs and won convictions. A large money laundering scheme dubbed the ‘Russian laundromat’ was also discovered where up to $20 billion was ‘washed’ through Moldova and offshore banks.