Moldovans begin visa-free travel to Europe

GALATI, Romania (AP) — Moldovans have begun to travel to Europe without visas, a victory for the former Soviet republic's pro-European government which is seeking to join the European Union.

The European Parliament approved visa-free travel across most of Europe for Moldovan citizens in February. As of Monday Moldovans with biometric passports — containing a chip with a photo and fingerprint data — can travel without visas across 26 European nations, the so-called Schengen area.

Romanian border guards at the Galati crossing, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Bucharest welcomed the move, saying it would simplify travel. Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca called it "a victory for all of us who see our future in a modern and European Moldova."

Moldova is pursuing an association agreement with the EU.

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