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Voronin calls for lifting the “iron curtain” between Moldova & EU

Moldova's incumbent president, Vladimir Voronin, has said that an "iron curtain" with the European Union should be raised on Moldova's border with Romania.

"The European Union should solve the question of liberalization of the visa regime with the Republic of Moldova as soon as possible," Voronin said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass ahead of his forthcoming working visit to Moscow that starts on Monday.

"The Iron Curtain erected between our country and the European Union along the Romanian-Moldovan border combined with simultaneous granting of Romanian citizenship is a source of great danger. Not only for Moldova but the stability of the entire region," Voronin went on to say.

He said he was concerned with Romanian plans to step up the issuance of Romanian passports to Moldovan citizens voiced by Romanian President Trajan Basescu.

"Romania shouldn't use its advantage of being an EU member to bribe Moldovan citizens with its passports thus deepening a split of our society along the Dniester River," the Moldovan president said, hinting that Bucharest's actions are aggravating the settlement of the painful Dniester problem for Moldova.

"Romania as Moldova's neighbour and an EU and NATO member should eventually legitimise our bilateral relations and sign a basic political treaty and a border treaty with Moldova. It regards that in relation to Moldova Romania should do the same as it has already done with regards to other neighbours. As soon as Romania is ready to take this step, we will be able to turn a blind eye even to the buzzwords and ‘historic' unionist declarations of the Romanian leaders. In fact, after that Romania itself will lose interest in financing its political supporters in Moldova," Voronin explained.

"Finding a solution for these tasks will be a serious trial for the European Union, especially for its security policy in the region. But I am sure that with assistance form all Moldova's genuine European partners the solution will be found, " the Moldovan president told Itar-Tass.

Despite the fact that monitors from the OSCE, the European Union, the CIS and other international organisations recognized the April elections as legitimate, the Communist victory in them triggered a wave of opposition protests. On April 7, they grew into street violence. The protesters destroyed the parliament building and the presidential residence and hoisted the Romanian flags over their roofs. They were calling for Moldova's unification with Romania. The Moldovan authorities regarded that as interference in the country's internal affairs. They expelled the Romanian ambassador and introduced a visa regime with Romania.

In the meantime, Moldova is not the only country that wants to normalize its relations with the European Union. The Belarusian authorities also seem to be keen to improve the country's relations with the West. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbohood Policy, will arrive in Minsk on Sunday at the request of President Alexander Lukashenko. The EU commissioner is not coming to Minsk empty-handed. The European Union has allocated 10 million euros to Belarus to enable it to "improve the quality and increase the production of Belarusian food products."

Prior to her visit Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that Belarus had recently made steps in the right direction and the European Union had appreciated it and invited Belarus to join the "Eastern Partnership" program. She described it as a vital step forward in the EU-Belarusian relations but noted that Belarus still had to develop democratic freedoms, i.e. to create opportunities for representatives of civil society to work and meet freely without any pressure or fears of being arrested as well as to create conditions for local and foreign journalists to work freely and distribute the products of their work without restrictions. She also added that the European Union was ready to offer more aid in various spheres if it makes progress on the path of democratisation.

"Our further relations will depend on what choice Belarus is going to make," she said.

In Minsk, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will meet President Alexander Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov. She will deliver a speech in front of representatives of the ruling authorities and Belarusian civil society. (Itar-Tass)


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