Moldova exempted from EU visa requirements
European Union has abolished the visa regime for citizens of Moldova holding a biometric passport. The decision went into force on Monday, April 28.
Negotiations for visa abolishment lasted for almost four years, Moldova becoming the first country of the Eastern Partnership to get visa waiver. Citizens of Moldova are allowed to stay in EU and Schengen zone (except the UK and Ireland) up to 90 days in any 180-day period. These stays do not allow them to seek work.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said that visa-free travels will ease people-to-people contacts and enhance relations between Moldova and the European Union.
“I am extremely pleased that visa free travel has become a reality for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova with a biometric passport, who want to travel to the Schengen zone for short-stays,” Ms. Malmström said. “This decision will further facilitate people-to-people contacts and strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Moldova.”
A historic day
Prime Minister of Moldova Iurie Leanca said that visa liberalization is a “victory” of the entire nation, adding that April 28 is a “historic day for the Republic of Moldova” because it brings more freedom.
“Visa abolishment is far from being a dead-end; on the contrary, it is the continuation of our way home, in Europe,” Premier Leanca said.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Moldova Pirkka Tapiola congratulated the Moldovan government for its achievement.
“I also want to congratulate the government of the Republic of Moldova for successfully implementing reforms,” Mr. Tapiola said. “I have to underline that when crossing the border, citizens of Moldova will not be asked to provide more documents than other countries which benefit from the visa-free travel regime.”
Romanian MEP Monica Macovei, who is the Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, was in Chisinau on the day when EU lifted visa requirements for Moldova. She said she was happy and excited to be there during such a “historic moment for the Republic of Moldova.”
“Today barriers collapse; today are opened new roads in people’s lives,” MEP Macovei said.
Moldovans test visa-free travels
According to border authorities, from 00:00 AM until 12:00 PM, more than 700 Moldovans crossed the border with Romania with their biometric passports.
Early in the morning, a delegation comprising high level politicians, including Premier Iurie Leanca, Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman, Head of EU Delegation Pirkka Tapiola, MEP Monica Macovei, 25 students, five Olympics, 20 Moldovans with relatives in EU and 30 journalists travelled to Athens, Greece in the so-called “Visa-free in EU” event.
The government sought to test by itself the visa abolishment, choosing to travel to Greece as the country currently holds the Presidency of the EU.
Celebrating the achievement
Several pro-EU political parties will mark the event by organizing concerts in the Central Squares from Chisinau and Balti. Prominent domestic and foreign artists will sing on the stage. Banners with invitations to attend the event were installed by political parties in front of the government.
High demand for biometric passports
Amid visa liberalization, authorities registered a higher demand for biometric passports. According to the Centre for State Information Resources “Registru” – body in charge with issuing travel documents – applications for biometric passports have increased by 60%.
More than 900,000 citizens of Moldova hold biometric passports. Over 50,000 residents of the Transnistrian region have such travel documents.
By Valeriu Gonta