By Paul Ciocoiu
The newly elected Moldovan president’s visit to Bucharest this month marked a change in the countries’ diplomatic relations, which have been marred by tensions stemming from the Communist administration in Chisinau for more than a decade.
“President Nicolae Timofti came to Bucharest to tell his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu that the diplomatic mistakes of the past will not repeated — that the previous Moldovan administration’s hostility towards Romania is history,” Vladimir Turcanu, presidency spokesman, told SETimes. “It is high time the two neighbours had a correct relationship,” he said.
Timofti was elected by the Moldovan parliament in March, ending a three-year political deadlock during which the deputies failed to choose the head of the state seven consecutive times.
During their meetings, Basescu and Timofti agreed on accelerating the common energy projects, among them the trans-border gas pipe that will link the Romanian city of Iasi and the Moldovan town of Ungheni.
Basescu said he hoped the Iasi-Ungheni pipeline, which is partially funded by the EU, will be finished in 2014. To expedite it, the two governments declared the pipeline a project of national interest.
“Through this project, Romania has given more concreteness to bilateral projects,” Turcanu said. “The Iasi-Ungheni gas pipe will help Moldova decrease its energy dependence because the energy alternative is vital to Moldova. For us, this is like a new declaration of sovereignty.”
“The Iasi-Ungheni pipeline strengthens the economic co-operation between the two countries and marks Romania’s ever clearer presence in Moldova’s economic development and defining new strategic projects,” Eugen Tomac, former secretary of state, told SETimes.
At the same time, he underlined, Moldova has in Romania the strongest supporter of its European aspirations. “Bucharest has been by far the keenest supporter of Moldova’s Western urge. There was no European Council without Romania to bring this into discussion,” Tomac noted.
Apart from the pipeline, the two countries also agreed on speeding other common projects — such as the trans-border electric lines connecting Falciu-Gotesti and Suceava-Balti, modernising the Iasi-Unghen-Kishinev railway and the bridges over Prut River which marks the border between the two states.
Despite this, analysts say Moldova should show more resolve concerning the road it plans to take.
“Timofti’s visit confirms the privileged partnership [Chisinau] … says it has with Romania. Moldova should be aware that getting closer to Romania equals getting closer to the Euro-Atlantic space,” Dan Dungaciu, director of the Romanian Academy’s International Relations Institute, told SETimes.
“As long as the Transdniestr conflict is still out there … Moldova will not be able to be 100% pro-European. Because as long as Transdniestr remains an issue, Moldova has to pay attention to Russia, too. Moldova cannot go on playing this double game,” Dungaciu said.