Romania and Moldova sealed a long-awaited border treaty on Monday (November 8th), setting the stage for closer co-operation between the two neighbours. The agreement was signed by Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat during a ceremony in Bucharest, on the sidelines of a regional summit of the 14 countries bordering the Danube River.
The treaty deals with a number of technical issues, such as the marking of the 681km border, joint construction projects, utilisation of water resources, infrastructure and communication installations, as well as border maintenance and surveillance. It also regulates the way various activities -- such as fishing, hunting and forestry -- are conducted in that region.
The deal was reached after years of negotiations and at an important time for both countries.
Moldova, which was part of Romania until it was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 to then declare independence in 1991, faces critical parliamentary elections on November 28th.
Moldova was the only neighbouring country with which Bucharest had not signed such an agreement. Romania hopes to join the 25 European nations in the visa-free Schengen area in March 2011, when its border with Moldova will also become part of the EU external border.
"By signing this treaty, we discourage the obsessive allegations of some political circles in Moldova concerning "an imaginary irredentist agenda of Romania", Baconschi said in a joint statement with Filat, following the signing ceremony.
His remark was in an apparent reference to repeated accusations by Moldovan communists that Romania has territorial claims on their country.
Filat, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party -- one of the four parties in the ruling Alliance for European Integration (AIE) coalition -- said Monday's agreement would pave the way for the adoption of European-style border practices in his country.
European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso, who was in Bucharest on Monday, welcomed the signing of the treaty as "an excellent example of the things that can be achieved when there is mutual interest". Noting the move's importance for Romania's Schengen bid in a speech at the opening of the Danube summit, he said it was also a "demonstration that Moldova is getting closer to the EU".
Romania's Baconschi voiced confidence later that Barroso's stated support "can only inspire us to continue placing this bilateral relationship irreversibly in a European logic".
"We want the Republic of Moldova to follow this path and we want this border to gradually fade away when all the conditions are met and for it to become an internal border of the EU," he said. (Southeast European Times)