Sandu says Moldova's future within European family

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Moldovan President Maia Sandu meet in Berlin

(Reuters) - Moldova's President Maia Sandu welcomed the start of formal talks to join the EU, stressing that her country's future is within the European family.

Moldova applied for EU membership along with its neighbour Ukraine in 2022, days after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which Sandu strongly condemned. In October, Moldova will hold a referendum on its pro-European drive.

"We are stronger together," Sandu said on X.

The EU is set for a symbolic opening of membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova on Tuesday.

Moldova, which has a Romanian-speaking majority and large Russian-speaking minority, has seen power oscillate between pro-Western and pro-Russian parties since the Soviet Union broke up. Moscow has troops stationed in Transdniestria, a region which broke away from Chisinau's rule after a war in the early 1990s.

Sandu was elected in 2020 on a platform to seek closer integration with Europe. She has accused Moscow of meddling in Moldova's affairs and plotting the overthrow of her government.

Cristina Gherasimov, Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, said Tuesday was a historical moment.

"More committed than ever to deliver on the aspirations of our citizens to become part of the European family," she said on X.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Alison Williams and Peter Graff)