Romania offered neighbor Moldova up to 200,000 anti-Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday to help the former Soviet republic fight the coronavirus pandemic.
President Klaus Iohannis was on a one-day visit to Chisinau where he met newly-elected President Maia Sandu, a pro-Western former World Bank economist.
Relations deteriorated between the traditional allies which share linguistic, cultural and historical ties under former President Igor Dodon who focused foreign policy on strengthening ties with Moscow. He lost a runoff to Ms. Sandu on Nov. 15
Mr. Iohannis is the first foreign leader to visit Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe since Maia Sandu took office on Dec. 24, and the visit signals that the friendship is back on track.
Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014 but is not eligible for vaccines which Romania will receive.
The Romanian president said Bucharest would also send PPE equipment and a team of specialists to Moldova to help with a vaccination campaign.
Moldova has reported almost 142,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 2,900 deaths. Outgoing Prime Minister Ion Chicu tested positive for the virus.
Mr. Iohannis also said the countries wanted to sign a sixth protocol under which Romania will give Moldova a 100 million euro grant, and 6,000 tons of diesel to help farmers in the agricultural nation of 3.5 million located between Ukraine and Romania.
Romania is also providing financial aid to non-governmental groups and the media worth 250,000 euros.
Although Ms Sandu, 48, easily defeated the former president in November, she is hamstrung by a Parliament where pro-Russian parties that oppose reform have a majority. She is pushing for snap elections.
The two leaders adopted a joint declaration pledging to consolidate the partnership, strategic bilateral relations, and “reaffirming the special relations” 10 years after the Strategic Partnership for Moldova’s European Integration.
The two leaders on Tuesday also agreed to cooperate on justice reforms and the anti-corruption fight.
Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it became part of the Soviet Union under a Nazi-Soviet pact. It declared independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up.
The two countries speak an identical language, with some regional differences. Many Moldovans also speak Russian.
The two leaders also pledged to sign an education protocol for the next four years “which will allow us to continue the process of reform of Moldova’s education system.”
Romania offers Moldovans places in schools and universities, either with or without a grant.