Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Romania and Moldova open new border crossing point

Romania's interior minister and Moldova's prime minister used pliers on Monday to remove a barbed wire fence from the Soviet era and open a new border crossing.

Monday's move heralds improved relations between the neighbors. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it was annexed to the Soviet Union.

Since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Moldova has mostly been governed since by communists loyal to Russia, but a pro-European alliance won elections in July 2009 and has pledged more economic and democratic reform.

Other Romania-Moldova border crossings have been opened in the past, but Prime Minister Vlad Filat of Moldova said the new border on a bridge crossing the River Prut between the cities of Radauti and Lipcani is important for his country as it moves toward EU membership.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007.

More than 80 percent of Moldova's population is ethnic Romanian. However, the country's loyalties to Moscow remain strong.

In January, on his first visit abroad since re-election, Romanian President Traian Basescu pledged to pull Moldova into Europe's orbit. Hundreds of Romanians lined the streets to cheer the Romanian president during the two-day visit to Moldova.

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