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Moldova Protests Romanian Citizenship Program

(RFE/RL) March 7, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Moldova today accused EU member Romania of undermining its security by allowing Moldovans to become Romanian citizens, RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service reported.

Moldova's government said in a statement that its western neighbor is "undermining the national security and the principles of state" in Moldova by easing citizenship-application procedures for Moldovan nationals.

Most of today's Moldova was part of Romania before it was annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II.

A 1991 Romanian law gives the right of citizenship to any Moldovan able to prove that they or their parents were born in territories belonging to Romania before the war.

Romanian President Traian Basescu today declined to comment on the statement, but said Romania's policy toward Chisinau remains unchanged.

"I do not interpret [the statement], I am only taking note [of it]," he said. "Romania's policy does not change."

Basescu has recently called for the application process to be simplified. Romania says 800,000 Moldovans have citizenship applications pending in Bucharest.

But Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan today said Chisinau has decided to backtrack on a promise to let Romania open consulates in two more Moldovan cities. Stratan said Moldova believes that "additional consulates are not necessary anymore."

Following Romania's admission into the EU in January, anyone holding a Romanian passport is free to travel without a visa within the 27-member bloc.

(with material from agency reports)

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