Sunday

21st Oct 2018

EU lifts visa restrictions on Moldova

  • Moldovan nationals with a biometric passport can travel to the EU without a visa (Photo: Guttorm Flatabo)

The EU on Thursday (3 April) formally agreed to lift visa restrictions on Moldova, allowing its citizens to travel throughout the Schengen passport-free area.

“This is a great achievement and the beginning of a new chapter in our relations,” said EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The visa will be lifted at the end of the month.

Moldovans will be able to travel freely throughout the Schengen area for short trips so long as they have a biometric passport.

Conditions attached to the visa waiver required the country to reform its ministry of interior, modernise its border police, work closer with the EU on police matters, and manage its border with Ukraine.

Moldova, for its part, sees the move as a step towards deeper relations with the EU and possibly one day joining the Union.

“I want to tell the sceptics, who until recently have not believed that we will travel freely to the European Union, that the prospect of joining the European Union will be recognised in the same way,” Moldova’s prime minister Iurie Leanca said in a speech to the parliament in Chisinau on Thursday.

Last November, the government initialled a free trade and political pact with the EU in a wider effort to modernise the former Soviet republic.

Chisinau’s move towards the EU was met with threats from Putin’s special representative to Moldova’s Russian-occupied breakaway region of Transniestria, Dmitry Rogozin.

Rogozin in late 2013 said Moldova could lose the breakaway if it continued to seek closer ties with the EU.

In February, the autonomous region of Gagauzia voted in favour of joining the Russia-led Customs Union. Authorities in Chisinau called the referendum illegal.

Putin’s annexation of the Crimea has since heighted tensions in the region with Transniestria now wanting to join Russia.

Russia has some 1,200 troops, which it describes as peacekeepers, along a 12-20km wide buffer zone that separates Moldova and Transniestria.

Nato in late March also warned the country could become Russia’s next target, with Leanca telling Reuters that Crimea’s annexation “might raise expectations” in Moldova's separatist region.

Despite the tensions, Leanca says Chisinau intends to maintain an open dialogue and relations with Russia.

He noted that his deputy prime minster Natalia Gherman would be on an official visit in Moscow on Friday.

Russia is also set to send its envoy.

Gherman told media Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit the Moldovan capital at the end of the month.

Russian activist warns on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

News in Brief

  1. Germany leads EU criticism of Saudi Arabia
  2. Huge pro-EU march takes place in London
  3. Macedonia MPs back name deal in initial vote
  4. EU to open trade talks with US on beef
  5. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  6. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  7. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  8. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  2. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  3. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  4. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  5. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  6. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  7. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  8. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us