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Romanian leader to boycott Moldova conference next month

In a protest move, Romanian President Traian Basescu Wednesday said he would boycott a conference next month in neighbouring Moldova because of political developments there after elections-related unrest in April. Basescu was to have attended a south-east European conference in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on June 5.

"Because of the events in the post election period in the Republic of Moldova (the trip) would no longer be realized," the president's representatives declared Wednesday evening in Bucharest.

The move is likely to worsen relations between the neighbouring countries. Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin has blamed Romania for provoking unrest in his country, and continued his sharp criticism of Basescu.

Romanians may no longer travel without a visa to Moldova, and the documents are now hard to come by. About 60 per cent of Moldovans are ethnic Romanians.

Last month, tensions mounted after Basescu suggested that Bucharest should offer citizenship to 1 million Moldovans. Senior Romanian officials including Basescu sided publicly with Moldova's opposition in an electoral dispute, accusing Moldova's ruling Communist Party of fixing the results of a national vote April 5 to select a new parliament.

The June 5 conference is to include 11 countries which belong to the South East European Cooperation Process initiative founded in 1996. In addition to Romania and Moldova, the group includes Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. DPA


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