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EU Parliament Says Moldova Moving Toward Brussels Agreement

CHISINAU -- A European Parliament official supervising ties with Moldova said the former Soviet republic could conclude EU association talks by the end of 2010 and sign an association agreement with Brussels early next year, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

But European Parliament deputy Monica Macovei, a Romanian who chairs a joint EU-Moldova parliamentary committee, did not say when the EU would drop visa requirements for Moldovans.

She told RFE/RL in an interview that some "old" EU members are wary of bringing new countries closer to membership, particularly after the bloc "had problems" absorbing poorer members like Romania and Bulgaria.

Macovei, who is credited with bringing crucial reforms in Romania when she served as justice minister, said upgrading Moldova's legal system is key to its European integration.

Moldova is one of the former Soviet republics included in the EU's Eastern Partnership program, which promises better ties and more freedom to travel in exchange for democratic reforms. It does not guarantee the prospect of EU membership.

Moldova has said it wants full membership, but has hailed the partnership program as a step in the right direction.