The two nations signal they will intensify political and economic co-operation.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 19/03/13
Moldova opened its first consulate in Macedonia earlier this month [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes].
Macedonia and Moldova are taking specific steps to increase political and economic ties and expect to reap the benefits of the newly formed relationship in the near future, officials said.
The two countries established bi-lateral relations in 1995. Moldova opened a consulate in Strumica in early March. Plans are under way to open a second consulate in Skopje.
"Opening a consulate in Macedonia is part of Moldova's policy to improve connections with the Balkans," Darko Arsov, Moldova's consul to Macedonia, told SETimes.
Arsov said that given the great potential for co-operation, the consulate's main goal will be to promote the countries' business sectors.
In a first step, a delegation of 40 Moldovan businessmen plant to visit Macedonia next month. A group of Macedonian businessmen will then follow up with a visit to Moldova.
"What is of particular interest for Moldova are Macedonia's experiences in cross-municipal co-operation," Mihail Rosshchovan of the Institute for Business Consulting of Moldova told SETimes.
Moldovan central, regional and local government representatives, as well as civil society groups, visited Macedonia in January to examine Macedonia's decentralisation and territorial re-organisation.
Arsov said that developing relations has mostly been impeded by the existing Moldovan visa regime for Macedonian citizens, who have to go to the nearest Moldovan embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, to obtain visas.
"The Moldovan government announced it will begin a procedure to abolish the visa regime … Moldovan citizens do not need visas to visit Macedonia," Arsov said.
The consulate will also foster commercial relations, according to Radmila Sekerinska, the former EU integration minister of Macedonia.
"That is for the simple reason it is not always easy to sell products and services in advanced markets … But the markets of the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia are the real places where every smart state should invest more money," Sekerinska told SETimes.