Moldova seeks Romania's expertise in efforts to join the EU.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 03/12/12
Moldova's energy infrastructure development will be a key topic in the project. [AFP]
A group of experts from Romania and Moldova will evaluate the bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries under a year-long project.
The goal is to seek new initiatives that will strengthen Romania's role as major partner in the former Soviet republic's efforts to come closer to Europe, organizers said.
A joint financing agreement for the Romanian-Moldovan development partnership was signed on November 21st in Chisinau by Marius Lazurca, the Romanian ambassador in Moldova, and Ann Marie Yastishock, deputy mission director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.
Experts from the Foreign Policy Association in Moldova and the Romanian Centre for European Policies will assess five fields of activity -- energy, investments, competition and free market, regional development and justice reform – that are strategic for bilateral co-operation between the two countries.
"By learning from Romania's experience in meeting the challenges required for EU membership, Moldova can move forward even more quickly with its own important reforms. USAID recognises the importance of collaboration, co-operation and learning from each other's experiences, which is a critical part of its work in Moldova," USAID, which is partially financing the project, said in a statement issued to SETimes.
The project seeks to also strengthen Moldova's weaknesses, including justice sector reform and energy infrastructure development, both of which are critical for Moldova's continued progress toward democratic and economic stability, according to the US agency.
"The general aim of the project is to strengthen the bilateral ties by enhancing the authorities' capacity in key fields, inclusively by setting up networks of governmental and non-governmental experts and offering independent thematic expertise," the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told SETimes.
Experts from both countries will do independent studies to evaluate the current state and based on their findings they will formulate recommendations for the future, and a final assessment will be published.
"The focus will be on identifying the co-operation opportunities, possible deadlocks and formulation of concrete proposals to help advance the cooperation on Moldova's European integration," the ministry said.
The two countries had fluctuating relations after Moldova gained independence in 1991, but saw a surge after the communist administration fell in April 2009 following massive street protests in Chisinau, which brought a pro-European coalition in power.
Moldova, also known as Bessarabia, was part of Greater Romania, which ceded the territory in 1940, following the signing of the Nazi Germany-USSR Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty.
Moldova started negotiations with the EU in 2010 and hopes to sign the Association Agreement in November 2013. The country has also been praised for leading in terms of reforms in the Eastern Partnership, which was launched by EU in May 2009 upon Poland and Sweden's initiative and envisages strengthening Brussels' relations with six former Soviet republics: Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.