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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 15:40 GMT
Moldova scraps Romania consulates
By Razvan Scortea
BBC Romanian Service

Romanian consulate, Chisinau
Moldovans still throng outside Romania's consulate in Chisinau
The Moldovan government has reversed its decision to allow Romania to open two new consulates in the country.

The decision follows criticism from the authorities in Chisinau, who called Romanian policy towards Moldova "duplicitous".

The consulates were aimed at easing a backlog of applications from Moldovan citizens who now need visas to travel to Romania.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in the past year.

The Moldovan authorities hinted a week ago that a change was coming, and now it is official: the opening of two new Romanian consulates, in the towns of Balti and Cahul, will not be going ahead.

The authorities in both countries were taken aback by the chaotic scenes in front of the Romanian embassy in Chisinau in early January, just after Romania joined the EU.

Hundreds of angry people waited for days just to register their applications, amid confusion over documents and procedures. Many of them simply wanted to transit Romania to work in other EU countries.

Romanian President Traian Basescu visited the embassy and promised rapid improvements. The Moldovan President, Vladimir Voronin, initially agreed to the opening of two temporary consulates.

Reunification idea

This idea is now no longer on the cards, as the government is becoming ever more suspicious of Romania's intentions.

President Basescu (left) and President Voronin
President Basescu (left) seemed to have got a deal

The Moldovan foreign ministry recently complained to the EU that Romania's policy was "duplicitous" because it exaggerated the number of Moldovans seeking to gain Romanian citizenship.

This is a long-standing source of tension between the two countries.

Last year, while meeting Moldovan students enrolled at Romanian universities, President Basescu spoke of a future in which Romania and Moldova could be united within the EU.

He made a similar statement in a BBC interview on Wednesday. The idea was promptly rejected by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, who said that "Moldova will not unite with anyone, ever".

Moldova was part of Romania from 1918 to 1940 and the two countries share the same ethnic and linguistic background.

Mr Voronin wants to move his country ever closer to Europe, but dismisses any suggestion that this would imply a change in its relationship with Romania.

Meanwhile, the process of getting a visa at the Romanian consulate in Chisinau has become more orderly in recent weeks.

The queues are shorter but it still takes more than a month for the papers to go through. Many expect the queues to grow again as the summer holiday season approaches.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Moldova
07 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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