29 April 2010
ESI in Moldova: Visa-free travel is in reach
From left to right: Nicu Popescu, adviser to the Prime Minister of Moldova; Gerald Knaus, ESI Chairman; Alexandra Stiglmayer, ESI Senior Analyst; Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova; and Ivica Bocevski, former Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia. Photo: ESI
From left to right: Nicu Popescu, adviser to the Prime Minister of Moldova; Gerald Knaus, ESI Chairman; Alexandra Stiglmayer, ESI Senior Analyst; Vlad Filat, Prime Minister of Moldova; and Ivica Bocevski, former Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia. Photo: ESI

Form 29 April to 2 May 2010, an ESI team visited Moldova to discuss with Moldovan officials and civil society the country's prospects for visa-free travel with the EU. They met with Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca and the head of the Border Guard Service Alexei Roibu, among many other officials. ESI's most important message to Moldovans was that visa-free travel will require far-reaching reforms, which, however, can be accomplished and should lead to the abolition of the Schengen visa requirement.

The ESI team was made up of ESI Chairperson Gerald Knaus, ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer and Ivica Bocevski, former Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister who was in charge of the visa liberalisation process for Macedonia. Ivica Bocevski spoke about the activities that Macedonia undertook to qualify for visa-free travel with the EU, sharing the Western Balkans experience with Moldova.

The ESI team also had meetings with the senior officials from other ministries and EUBAM (European Union Border Assistance Mission). The team briefed an inter-institutional task force dealing with various aspects relevant for the visa issue, and talked to representatives of various think-tanks and NGOs.

With the Border Guard Service, ESI visited the border crossing point Leusani towards Romania. The ESI team also went to a customs point near Vadul-lui-Voda towards the break-away region of Transnistria.

In the framework of the "Eastern Partnership", the EU has promised its six Eastern partner countries – Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – visa liberalisation. In Moldova, visa facilitation and readmission agreements, which are a precondition for a visa liberalisation process, entered into force in January 2008. In June 2010, the European Commission intends to open a visa dialogue with Moldova. As part of this dialogue, it plans to present to Moldova a visa roadmap that will set out the conditions that the country needs to meet to be granted visa-free travel with the EU.

The Moldovan Border Guards Service took ESI on a boat trip on the river Prut between Moldova and Romania. Photo: ESI

The Moldovan Border Guards Service took ESI on a boat trip on the river Prut between Moldova and Romania. Photo: ESI
Über uns
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com