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Romania Eases Entrance For Moldovans On Border

A customs officer checks a passport at the Romanian border with Moldova in Albita. (file photo)
CHISINAU -- Dozens of Moldovans from towns and villages on the Romanian border lined up at the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau to apply for border-traffic passes that allow visa-free entry into the neighboring EU country, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The embassy began accepting applications for the certificates on March 1 -- the first day that the EU Border Traffic Convention between Romania and Moldova went into force.

The agreement allows visa-free border crossing in both directions for people with the certificates. But their movement is restricted to 50 kilometers from the border.

Moldovan authorities estimate that up to 1.2 million Moldovans -- those living within 50 kilometers of the Romanian border -- are eligible to apply for the certificates.

Romania imposed visas for Moldovan citizens after Bucharest joined the European Union in 2007. At the same time, Romanian authorities encouraged Moldovans to apply for Romanian citizenship.

Romanian President Traian Basescu estimated that about 1 million Moldovans applied for Romanian citizenship in 2007. Several hundred thousand Romanian passports are estimated to have been issued to Moldovans between 1991 -- when it gained independence -- and 2006.