CHISINAU -- Romanian President Traian Basescu has told Moldova that Bucharest fully backs Chisinau's bid to sign an agreement on closer ties with the European Union.
Basescu spoke on July 17 at a joint news conference with Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti in Chisinau.
"You are preparing for a great achievement, and I want to be by your side at an important moment and to assure you that Romania will remain your advocate without any reservations -- I repeat, without any reservations -- as you pursue your European path," Basescu said.
Moldova is seen as well-positioned to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the 28-member bloc at an Eastern Partnership summit in November in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius.
The agreement would be a first step toward eventual membership. Before the visit, Basescu told RFE/RL in Bucharest that Moldova could complete its EU integration process in 10 to 12 years.
Basescu and Timofti also announced the construction of a natural-gas pipeline from Romania to Moldova, which Timofti called "crucial for Moldova's energy security."
Timofti said work will start in August on the 9 million-euro ($12 million) pipeline between the eastern Romanian city of Iasi and the Moldovan city of Ungheni. Romania is funding most of the project.
Moldova depends heavily on gas imports from Russia.
Basescu also said on July 17 that Romania will continue to support Moldova's territorial integrity and its efforts to resolve a long-standing dispute with its separatist Transdniester region.
A new round of negotiations is currently under way in Vienna between Chisinau and Tiraspol under the 5+2 format (Transdniester, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the United States and the European Union.
Speaking about Transdniester, Basescu told RFE/RL, "The future of this country has to be made in Chisinau -- not in Moscow, not in Brussels, not in Bucharest, or in Washington."
With reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service