17 February 2010 The new pro-European government in Moldova starts an initiative to dismantle 360-kilometrea of barbed-wire fences set up in the wake of World War II to separate the country from Romania.

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat has signed an order to remove a 60-year-old communist-era barbed wire along the Prut River, separating his country from Romania. The wire is scheduled to come down by early March.

A total of nearly 360 kilometres of the fence will be removed in ten out of 11 Moldovan districts bordering Romania. Filat’s decision came shortly before a visit by Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Two years ago, Moldova’s border authorities suggested modern boundaries — with a computerised monitoring system — to replace the barbed wire. One county government in Ungheni argued that the fence hindered fishing and other leisure activities. The government at the time — the democratically elected communist party of Vladimir Voronin — rejected the idea.

The dismantling of the barbed-wire divide precedes the enforcement of a „border small-traffic treaty” allowing Moldovans near the Prut to enter Romanian territory up to 30 kilometres without a visa. The treaty was signed last November and is scheduled to take effect by the end of next month.

On Monday, Basescu and Moldovan authorities also re-opened a bridge over the Prut linking two border points: Radauti-Prut and Lipcani. Built in 1937, the bridge was destroyed by the German army in 1944 and was rebuilt between 2000 and 2005 with EU funds.

Elena Patrascu, a communications specialist from the capital Chisinau (Kishinev) who now lives in Bucharest, sees in the decision to take down the fence as symbolic.

„I was born with that fence along the Prut, separating families and destinies. I felt this the most in 1990, when communism fell [and] tens of thousands of Romanians on the both sides hugged, laughed and cried together after being separated for decades,” she said.

„It [the wire] is a symbol of the acute sense of division the former communist administration deliberately promoted to keep the Moldovans from anything Romanian. But its dismantlement brings Moldova closer to Romania and the West, which it has been looking to join for so long,” Patrascu added.

Moldovan political analyst Denis Cenusa told SETimes that the dismantling is a populist move. „The fence issue, along with the border small-traffic treaty, rank among the promises Filat made during the electoral campaign. Hence the political connotation, not just a symbolic one,” he said.

Cenusa said the Moldovan prime minister is trying to give his decision to remove the fence a larger, pan-European symbolism.

„In practice, this physical object has nothing to do with good relations over the Prut River, let alone Moldova’s European integration,” Cenusa said. „No barbed-wire or any other Soviet-era symbols’ dismantlement will replace what Moldova really needs today in order to project itself towards Europe, which is reforms.”

(SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

Over the past decade or so, Bulgaria has seen a new addition to its calendar of festivities. On February 14, many of its citizens now mark St. Valentine’s Day by participating in the buying frenzy. Flowers, chocolates, stuffed teddy bears and anything red or heart-shaped get purchased and given as tokens of love and affection.

Read the article on Balkan Travelers

Barb Wire Border between Romania and Moldova to be Dismantled

17 February 2010 The new pro-European government in Moldova starts an initiative to dismantle 360-kilometrea of barbed-wire fences set up in the wake of World War II to separate the country from Romania.

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat has signed an order to remove a 60-year-old communist-era barbed wire along the Prut River, separating his country from Romania. The wire is scheduled to come down by early March.

A total of nearly 360 kilometres of the fence will be removed in ten out of 11 Moldovan districts bordering Romania. Filat’s decision came shortly before a visit by Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Two years ago, Moldova’s border authorities suggested modern boundaries — with a computerised monitoring system — to replace the barbed wire. One county government in Ungheni argued that the fence hindered fishing and other leisure activities. The government at the time — the democratically elected communist party of Vladimir Voronin — rejected the idea.

The dismantling of the barbed-wire divide precedes the enforcement of a „border small-traffic treaty” allowing Moldovans near the Prut to enter Romanian territory up to 30 kilometres without a visa. The treaty was signed last November and is scheduled to take effect by the end of next month.

On Monday, Basescu and Moldovan authorities also re-opened a bridge over the Prut linking two border points: Radauti-Prut and Lipcani. Built in 1937, the bridge was destroyed by the German army in 1944 and was rebuilt between 2000 and 2005 with EU funds.

Elena Patrascu, a communications specialist from the capital Chisinau (Kishinev) who now lives in Bucharest, sees in the decision to take down the fence as symbolic.

„I was born with that fence along the Prut, separating families and destinies. I felt this the most in 1990, when communism fell [and] tens of thousands of Romanians on the both sides hugged, laughed and cried together after being separated for decades,” she said.

„It [the wire] is a symbol of the acute sense of division the former communist administration deliberately promoted to keep the Moldovans from anything Romanian. But its dismantlement brings Moldova closer to Romania and the West, which it has been looking to join for so long,” Patrascu added.

Moldovan political analyst Denis Cenusa told SETimes that the dismantling is a populist move. „The fence issue, along with the border small-traffic treaty, rank among the promises Filat made during the electoral campaign. Hence the political connotation, not just a symbolic one,” he said.

Cenusa said the Moldovan prime minister is trying to give his decision to remove the fence a larger, pan-European symbolism.

„In practice, this physical object has nothing to do with good relations over the Prut River, let alone Moldova’s European integration,” Cenusa said. „No barbed-wire or any other Soviet-era symbols’ dismantlement will replace what Moldova really needs today in order to project itself towards Europe, which is reforms.”

(SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

Over the past decade or so, Bulgaria has seen a new addition to its calendar of festivities. On February 14, many of its citizens now mark St. Valentine’s Day by participating in the buying frenzy. Flowers, chocolates, stuffed teddy bears and anything red or heart-shaped get purchased and given as tokens of love and affection.

Read the article on Balkan Travelers

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