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Moldovan Leader Apologizes To Romanians Over Visa Issue

Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu
Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu
CHISINAU -- Moldova's acting president, Mihai Ghimpu, has apologized to Romanians for the visa requirement imposed on them by his predecessor earlier this year.

Ghimpu told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service that the policy "was a disgrace for us." He added: "I want to apologize through Radio Free Europe to the citizens of Romania."

Ghimpu made his comments one day after he canceled the visa requirement.

The visa regime was introduced by Moldova's Communist President Vladimir Voronin in early April after violent protests in Chisinau that some Communist leaders blamed on Romania.

Tens of thousands of Moldovans have Romanian passports.

Ghimpu said ties with Bucharest will improve rapidly under the new government.

Ghimpu came to power after a coalition of four pro-Western parties won the July 29 elections.

He has admitted to being a "unionist," meaning he believes Moldovans and Romanians should be together in one nation. But he promised not to seek reunification with Romania or to apply for NATO membership.

Ghimpu has also said he will promote good ties with Russia, but will insist that Moscow withdraw its troops from Moldova's separatist Transdniester region.