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Moldova Hopeful At Start Of EU Association Agreement Talks

oldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat

oldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat

CHISINAU -- Moldovan Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca says that his country is entering a new phase in its European integration, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Moldovan and EU officials began negotiations today in the Moldovan capital on an association agreement between Brussels and Chisinau.

Leanca told RFE/RL today that a new agreement with the EU would bring Moldova "essentially closer" to the 27-member bloc.

But he admitted that his country has a lot of work to do to approach EU standards in many fields, primarily regarding the economy and in strengthening the rule of law.

The EU has offered six former Soviet republics, including Moldova, the prospect of closer ties in exchange for reforms within its Eastern Partnership program, which was launched in last spring in Prague.

EU officials have made it clear that new association agreements with the six countries do not include a guarantee of full EU membership.