Neighbors Romania, Moldova sign deals to boost their ties
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — European Union member Romania and neighboring Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest nations, signed a string of cooperation deals following joint governmental meetings in Moldova’s capital Chisinau Friday.
The deals included Romania granting Moldova 100 million euros ($114 million) in non-reimbursable aid for development projects. Agreements were reached on strengthening cooperation on investment and energy security, as well as fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.
“We want to improve the quality of life, especially in rural areas, and these funds can be used for local infrastructure, whether we are talking about roads, schools, or water-supply networks,” Moldova’s pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita said.
In 2014, Moldova — a former Soviet republic of around 3.5 million inhabitants — signed a deal with the EU to forge closer political and economic ties, but widespread corruption and a lack of reforms hindered development.
Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said the agreements signed Friday send “a strong signal of support for improving the business environment in Moldova.”
“I assure you that Romania will continue to be your strong and vocal supporter,” Ciuca said.
The governments also agreed to build a new bridge across the River Prut, on their common border, linking two towns that are both named Ungheni.
In January, the European Commission approved 150 million euros ($170 million) in micro-financial assistance to Moldova to help the country’s economy. Some 30 million euros would be provided in grants and up to 120 million euros in medium-term loans.
Last year, the International Monetary Fund approved a $558-million aid package to Moldova; and the Commission announced a 600-million-euro ($684 million) economic recovery deal, conditional on judicial and anti-corruption reforms.