CHISINAU -- The head of a U.S. organization promoting democracy in Eastern Europe says Moldova has wasted two decades in terms of democratic reforms and European integration, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Bruce Jackson, head of the Washington-based Project on Transitional Democracies, told RFE/RL in Chisinau that Moldova missed a big opportunity in the 1990s to emulate the Baltic states in their EU integration and has little chance of catching up with them.
Jackson said the communist governments that ruled Moldova during the previous decade and especially Communist Party head and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin "turned down many overtures" from the West and also "mismanaged relations with Russia, Ukraine, and Romania."
On the EU membership ambitions of the new pro-Western Moldovan government that came to power in 2009, Jack6son said it is highly unlikely that a new round of EU expansion will take place in the forseeable future.
But he added that when the EU does decide to expand beyond the western Balkans -- a region that has been promised full membership -- Moldova and Ukraine will probably be the next candidates.
Unlike Serbia, Macedonia, or Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova is not considered by the EU as a potential candidate but is instead part of Brussels' Eastern Partnership program, which offers those six neighbors in that program closer ties in exchange for democratic reforms.
Last month, the EU presented Moldova with a "road map" by which its citizens could eventually be granted visa-free entry to EU countries.