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President Timofti: Moldovans Have 'European Aspirations'

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti (file photo)

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti has said the country's 4 million citizens would prefer to join the European Union rather than stay in the Russian orbit.

Timofti spoke to The Associated Press on May 26 as he attended a meeting of Southeastern European countries in Albania's capital, Tirana.

"We can't deny the realities that exist in Moldova," Timofti said. "We were part of a union where Russia predominated."

"[But] we are a European country and our people have European aspirations," he added. "It has been understood that we can live much better in the European family than in any other political conjunction."

The former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Some 1,500 Russian troops are currently stationed in Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester.

Last year, the EU lifted visa restrictions for Moldovan citizens and signed an Association Agreement with Chisinau.

Based on reporting by AP