27 Apr 10

Romania, Moldova to Boost Relations

Romania is to offer to Moldova development aid worth of €100 million while the number of scholarships for Moldovan students will double to 5,000, in a clear sign of improved cooperation between the neighbouring
countries, President Traian Basescu announced on Tuesday.

Marian Chiriac

The Romanian president announced the aid following an official meeting with his Moldovan counterpart, Mihai Ghimpu.

"Our countries are now interested in developing political and economical relations. And the help we offer is part of several agreeements which have to be signed by the end of this year," Basescu said.

Ties between the two countries, which share a common language and history, warmed instantly after the Moldova opposition's victory in last year’s elections.

Late last year, Chisinau abolished visa requirements for Romanians traveling to Moldova, while Bucharest has said it will lobby for close ties between Moldova and the EU.

In January, the newly elected Western-leaning government in Moldova decided to remove a barbed fence at its border with Romania.

Starting this month, Moldavian citizens living up to 50 kilometres from the Romanian border can enter the EU member state without a passport, as an agreement on small-scale border traffic between the two neighboring countries went into force.

Moldova formed part of the Russian Empire until the collapse of the Tsarist regime, when it was known as Bessarabia. From the end of the First World War until 1940 it was part of Romania, after which Stalin seized it back on behalf of the Soviet Union.

It declared independence in 1991.

Today, about 80 per cent of the country’s population of 4.1 million are of Romanian ethnic origin and speak Romanian as well as Russian.

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