EUBAM inaugurates office in Chisinau

The EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) opened a field office in Chisinau in order to better assist Moldova's Customs Service and Border Guard Service in securing the border and facilitating trade and contacts over the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.

"The new filed office shows the mission's readiness to support our partners in their efforts to ensure border and customs services of a high quality," EUBAM Acting Head Udo Burkholder told a news conference held to open the office on February 4. "The office in Chisinau will increase the Mission's capacity to meet the demands."

The Head of the EU Delegation to Chisinau Dirk Schuebel said the EUBAM is one of the EU's areas of cooperation with Moldova and Ukraine. "If we are asked in Brussels about successful projects, we mention the EUBAM," the ambassador said, adding that the new office in Chisinau will enable to exchange information about trade between Moldova and Ukraine and will be a good instrument for fighting smuggling on the Transnistrian border.

Attending the conference, Minister of the Interior Victor Catan said the Border Guard Service will be transferred under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior. "We do not now have information systems connected with this Service. The border guards do not possess information about the wanted persons. Thus, we intend to empower the Border Guard Service with police functions," he said, stressing that the measure is only being discussed.

Alexei Roibu, the head of Moldova's Border Guard Service, said the Service could be also empowered with prosecution duties. "By creating a joint database, we will contribute to combating offenses from the very borders of the country," Roibu said.

The field office has two locations - the head office of the Border Guard Service and the head office of the Customs Service. It will include five members - two European and three Moldovan. The new office represents one of the three institutions of the EUBAM, besides the operative and analytical division and the capacity development division.

The EUBAM was launched in 2005. It is an advisory, technical body. The Mission's mandate has been extended twice - in 2007 and 2009. According to the latest agreement between the EU and the Governments of Moldova and Ukraine, the Mission has been prolonged until November 30, 2011.