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Clarifications with respect to the media information concerning the Report of the European Commission on Visa suspension mechanism

Clarifications with respect to the media information concerning the Report of the European Commission on Visa suspension mechanism
The first annual report of the European Commission on the Visa suspension mechanism has been published on December 20, 2017.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, on the same day has presented the Republic of Moldova’s position on the report, welcoming the finding that the country continues to fulfill the benchmarks on which it is based the liberalization of the visa regime with the EU and reiterating the willingness of the national authorities to further cooperate with the European Commission to implement its recommendations put forward.

Proving the report, Dimitris Avramopoulous, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, underlined the commitment of the European Commission to safeguard the visa-free travel for citizens of the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, but also the responsibilities of both citizens and the relevant authorities in this connection.

The High Official acknowledged the efforts of the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries to ensure that the progress made is sustained and that reforms continue to deliver concrete results, but he also mentioned that the European Union expects them to consolidate their efforts, especially in the field of irregular migration and fighting organised crime and corruption.

Moreover, in an interview on the same date for Radio Free Europe, when asked about the case of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the Commissioner Avramopoulous replied that the European Commission does not intend to suspend the visa-free regime for these countries, and that the main role in maintaining such regime belongs to the Ukrainian and Moldovan citizens.

It is worth underlining that a large majority of the recommendations are already contained in the EU-RM Association Agenda for 2017-2019, which has been approved on August 4, 2017, prior to the publication of the report. The most recent developments have been realized regarding the implementation of these recommendations constitute the extension on December 7, 2017 of the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency's mandate for several organized crimes offenses, the adoption on December 22, 2017 of the new law on preventing and fighting money laundering and financing terrorism, harmonized with the 4th Directive of the EU in the field, as well as the appointment in December of the President and Vice-President of the National Integrity Authority.

Referring to the statistic on number of cases of refusals of entry and illegal stay in the EU of Moldovan citizens, it is important to note that the significant increase of this specific number in 2016, in comparison with 2015, is directly commensurate with the growth of the total number of travels of Moldovan citizens in the Schengen area during this period. At the same time, in percentage terms, the situation remained very stable, being limited to approximately 0,3% cases of refusal of entry and 0,5% cases of illegal stay of the total number of travels in the Schengen area.  We mention that in 2017, according to the report of the European Commission, the numbers of cases of illegal stay as well as of asylum applications have been decreasing.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova appreciates the interest of the media on the topic, several publications have been taken place immediately after the publication of the report as well as at the beginning of January 2018, and expresses its openness to provide the necessary clarifications.