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Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev (epa)
BRUSSELS, April 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union has told Moldova to concentrate on essential reforms instead of focusing on membership in the bloc.
However, the EU's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, told Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev in a meeting on April 11 that "Moldova has made quite important advances on the economic, political, and also structural-reform side."
These efforts had prompted the EU to include Moldova in its GSP Plus scheme, the EU equivalent of "most favored nation" status, which eases access to the European market.
However, Ferrero-Waldner said that "a lot of effort" still needs to be invested in reforms in the area of human rights, minority protection, and the rule of law.
Ursula Plassnik, foreign minister of the EU's current president, Austria, said after the meeting with Tarlev that Moldova must "manage its expectations in a responsible way" and work within the EU's Neighborhood Policy, which is designed for neighboring countries not yet on the path to EU membership.
Tarlev said EU membership is Moldova's "firm intention."