Movement and place of Moldovans in Europe during and after pandemic: opportunities and risks. IPN debate

A difficult sanitary situation is witnessed in the Republic of Moldova. This is more difficult than in other periods and than in other countries. For the situation to be remedied, serious actions should be taken at domestic and foreign levels, but most of the times these are largely or completely interdependent. The possibility and the necessity, based on a number of reasons, of the Moldovans to travel visa-free, as before the pandemic, are a relevant example. For the purpose, the Moldovan state should prove its capacity to keep the pandemic situation under control and Moldovan society and the Moldovan citizens should prove that they are able to respect particular rules, primarily sanitary ones, so as not to pose a threat of infection to the European community. The subject was discussed by experts invited to a public debate entitled “Movement and place of Moldovan citizens in Europe during and after pandemic: opportunities and risks” that was staged by IPN News Agency.

The standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan reminded that the Moldovans since April 2014 can enter the EU visa-free, this regime being very important for them. As from 2011, Moldova has issued biometric passports to its citizens with which these can enter the EU and stay there for 90 days for humanitarian, tourism, research and other reasons. One fourth to one third of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova hold also Romanian nationality. Those who have Romanian nationality are not affected in their movement to the extent to which the other citizens of the country are affected because of the pandemic.

The expert said that from the viewpoint of the Moldovan citizens, there will be no difference between the Schengen Area and the EU. “There are at least four states that do not form part of the EU, but form part of the SchengenAarea, which means that they became integrated from economic viewpoint and share the same values. The Schengen Area is based on freedom, security and justice. These criteria prevent at least three EU States from forming part of this area, namely Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. However, the European Parliament recently adopted a resolution by which it recommends the Council to examine the possibility of solving this problem,” stated Igor Boțan.

IPN senior contributor Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Sciences at Liebig-Justus University in Giessen, Germany, said there is no big difference in the way the Moldovan citizens are treated in the EU and in the Schengen Area. As the Moldovans have biometric passports, they are treated in the same way as the others. During the pandemic, the Moldovan citizens had different types of behavior. Some decided to return home for various reasons. Others remained in the countries in which they have residence, either EU or Schengen States. The biggest problem was experienced here as the European authorities, at the level of EU or Schengen State, had to ensure the legal stay of Moldovans. Ultimately, the Moldovans who remained in these countries encountered no problems as the European Commission suggested that the countries should ensure the legality of the stay of persons who had to remain in the EU for a short period,” stated the political scientist.

Dionis Cenușa noted that the EU witnesses rather different approaches to the management of the   sanitary crisis that led to a particular performance of the country, but there wasn’t a pronouncedly different approach to the citizens. “A better performance of the country enabled it to open its borders to the citizens from other EU States and from third countries sooner or later. For now, there hasn’t been introduced a rule concerning the so-called “immunity passports” that implies the person who wants to enter the EU should present at least one negative test for COVID-19. However, such a rule is being discussed and could be applied by the EU Member States,” noted the senior contributor.

Secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Eugen Revenco said over 75,000 Moldovans returned home after March 15. “There were established good cooperation relations with the Romanian and Ukrainian authorities for organizing green corridors and enable Moldovans to travel to Moldova. The waves were different: through Romania they travelled more by road transport. Three was a large transit flow also through the Chisinau Airport and the Iasi Airport. Through Ukraine they travelled more by road, from Russia, Belarus and Poland to the Republic of Moldova. During the state of emergency, Moldovans also left the country individually so as to return to the workplace, to the families or for other humanitarian situations,” stated the official.

He noted that after the state of emergency in Moldova was lifted, movement became easier. “Bus passenger transportation is not banned. For this, consular corridors are created on particular days and places to Russia, Belarus or Poland via Ukraine. But there are situations when congestion appears at the external borders, when organized groups of persons reach a frontier without having transit permission. In this case, the Embassy is asked to intervene when the people are already transported to the border crossing point. This is incorrect as the carriers know that all the procedures should be performed in advance,” said Eugen Revenco. He added that during the state of emergency, the demand was larger on the part of Moldovan employment firms that tried to organize transport abroad for seasonal workers. Currently, the trips for treatment purposes, primarily to Ukraine and Romania, trips for business or for reintegration of the family are more popular.

The debate “Movement and place of Moldovan citizens in Europe during and after pandemic: opportunities and risks” was the 141st installment of the series “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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