EU presses Moldova over Romania

20094818454891734_5The European Union has urged Moldova to resume normal relations with Romania, which the former Soviet republic has accused of stoking post-election violence.

Moldova expelled Romania’s ambassador on Wednesday and blamed its neighbour for violent street protests that Vladimir Voronin, its president, described as an attempted coup.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden said: “While understanding the complexity of the Moldovan-Romanian relations, we call on the government of Moldova to resume normal relations with Romania.”

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, also stressed that it fully respected the sovereignty of the tiny state after Russia raised concerns that demonstrators, many of them pro-EU, wanted to undermine its independence.

Voter lists

As police continued to patrol Chisinau, the capital, the opposition continued to accuse the incumbent Communist party of rigging Sunday’s election.

The Reuters news agency quoted one of the country’s opposition parties as saying that Moldova’s central election commission had agreed to allow the opposition parties to check voter lists.

A spokesman for the Our Moldova Alliance party said: “Three opposition parties have received approval from the central election commission to check the electoral lists.”

Checking the lists was one of the opposition parties’ central demands during the violent anti-government protests which saw about 200 people arrested and 90 injuries.

The commission finalised the election results on Wednesday, giving the Communists 60 of 101 seats in the new parliament.

Russian concerns

Most of present-day Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, was part of Romania until Stalin annexed it to the Soviet Union in 1940.

It won independence when the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Moscow was “deeply disturbed” by the protest flags and slogans because they showed that the demonstrators “were obsessed with the idea of destroying Moldovan statehood”.

Asked about Lavrov’s statement, a spokesman for the European Commission said: “Moldova is a sovereign country. The EU respects its sovereignty.”

Journalists banned

International press freedom groups criticized on Thursday a decision by Moldova to ban 18 journalists working for Romanian and international media from covering the unrest.

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned what they called an “unfair and dangerous decision by the Moldovan authorities”.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the ban prevented proper media coverage of the situation.

The journalists were stopped from entering Moldova on Wednesday.

Other Romanian journalists were sent back from Chisinau airport.

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