Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Romania rallies behind Moldova EU bid

27 April 2010

(BUCHAREST) - East European neighbours Romania and Moldova on Tuesday set up a strategic partnership to boost Chisinau's bid to join the European Union, Romanian President Traian Basescu said.

"Romania and Moldova, two states with a common heritage, have a privileged relationship," Basescu told a joint press conference with acting Moldovan president Mihai Ghimpu, on a two-day visit to Bucharest.

"We have a unique chance to emphasise our value together, within the European Union," he said.

Both presidents agreed to deepen bilateral political, economical and cultural cooperation, with a detailed action plan to be signed shortly.

EU member Romania also signed a financial assistance agreement, providing a non-refundable 100-million-euro grant to Moldova for infrastructure and education projects.

Moldova is one of six eastern European countries within the EU's so-called Eastern Partnership which holds out the prospect of political association and economic integration with the EU.

It was part of Romania until 1940, when it was forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union as part of the Nazi-Soviet pact.

Ties soured last year after Moldova's former Communist government accused Romania of inciting riots following a disputed parliamentary election in April.

Romania denied stoking the unrest, which broke out after Moldova's liberal pro-European opposition accused the Communists of fraud.

The Communists lost a re-run of the election in July and a pro-EU government, headed by Ghimpu, has taken office although there remains stalemate over the identity of the next president.

Basescu travelled to Moldova in January in a bid to relaunch "special relationships" with Chisinau.

In a speech to Romania's parliament, Ghimpu thanked Bucharest for its "constant help" to his country.

Ghimpu said he regretted the "indifference" in ties under the Communist regime, and that his presence in the Romanian parliament, 20 years after Moldova adopted the colours of Romania's flag as its own, was "historic."

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