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Moldova prime minister says his country wants to 'rejoin the EU family'

Moldova prime minister says his country wants to 'rejoin the EU family'

The prime minister of Moldova Vlad Filat has moved to allay concerns about levels of crime and corruption in the former Soviet state.

In an exclusive interview with this website, Filat also voiced optimism that his country would one day "rejoin the EU family of nations".

Moldova is currently caught up in what Filat described as a "political crisis" with talks continuing about forming a new coalition government.

He said he was confident this would result in the formation of a three-party "pro-European" administration in the coming days and continued "rapprochement" with the EU.

Until such talks are concluded, Filat will continue to lead a caretaker government.

In a wide-ranging interview, he described current EU-Moldova relations as "very positive".

Current "projects" include the ongoing talks about an association agreement and visa liberalisation, he said.

He said the two sides were discussing the "final details" of the association agreement which he hopes will be signed off at the eastern partnership summit in Vilnius in the autumn.

The agreement, he said, would be "crucial" in "anchoring Moldova in European space".

Negotiations on visa liberalisation, which will eventually allow Moldovans to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, are also making "good" progress, he said.

Praising the EU support for his country's reform process, he said that Moldova, a country of 3.6 million people, received "significant" funding from the EU which went towards various infrastructure and social projects.

But he rubbished suggestions that EU funding had been "misappropriated", adding, "There has not been a single situation where our attention has been drawn to misuse of EU funds. I would also point out that we have a very good system of transparency dictating how EU funds are used."

Turning to the ongoing fight against corruption, Filat said, "We have huge problems with corruption, but I want to tell you we are absolutely committed and determined to this.

"This will be done not through statements but actions."

He went on, "Last year was spent mostly on fighting the economic crisis, but I accept the battle against corruption is yet to be won. It will never be easy but this applies to other countries as well because it is a societal problem."

Reports by Transparency International and the OSCE have raised some concerns about levels of corruption and other issues such as the prevention of child trafficking.

But Filat said, "Such reports serve to further draw our attention to these issues and provide a starting point for action. But I would point out that under my tenure we have improved our ratings position on corruption, tackled trafficking and have also introduced anti-discrimination legislation."

He also moved to counter fears that further liberalisation of visa regimes between the EU and Moldova risks an influx of illegal labour migrants moving from his country to the EU.

Filat, who was in Brussels last week for talks with the European People's Party to which his own party is aligned, said, "The commission has undertaken an impact assessment on this and concluded that there is no risk."

Moldova topped the eastern partnership index, which compares reform agendas and performance across the six former Soviet states grouped under the EU's eastern partnership.

On the reform process, he said that "significant progress" had been made, but added, "There is no such thing as sufficient progress and that is why I want faster and speedier reforms which consolidate what we have already achieved."

At the end of November, commission president José Manuel Barroso made his first visit to Chisinau, the capital, and last year, EU enlargement commissioner Štefan Füle spoke about Moldova applying to join the EU one day.

Looking to the long-term future, Filat also said he hopes Moldova can secure EU accession, adding, "I want us to rejoin the EU family of nations to which we once belonged.

"Historically, culturally and geographically we are a European nation. We have belonged to Europe for hundreds of years and that is why we want to rejoin it."


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