CHISINAU -- A ranking Moldovan parliamentarian says convincing the EU to drop visa requirements for Moldovans is a "sensitive issue" and resolving it will take time, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Igor Corman, cochairman of the Moldova-EU parliamentary committee, told RFE/RL on February 15 that Moldova must first implement several "technical reforms" -- namely making it more difficult to forge its passports and improving the country's border-guarding system -- before Moldovans will be able to travel to EU countries without visas.
Officials in Bucharest and Brussels are also concerned by the long and porous Moldovan-Ukrainian border, especially the sector between Ukraine and the breakaway Transdniester region.
An EU mission has been working in that sector to try and reduce the amount of smuggling and human trafficking.
Moldova has begun negotiating an association agreement with the EU that could eventually lead to visa-free travel to the EU for Moldovans. But officials in Brussels and Chisinau have said it will take some time before the visa regime can be abolished.
The Moldovan government that came to power last summer has made European integration a top priority and is trying to secure popular support for its pro-EU course despite the economic downturn, growing unemployment, and rocketing energy prices.