Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 3

Romania’s ambassador to Ukraine, Ion Bistreanu, told a Kiev news conference that his country will "respect the [Romanian-Ukrainian] post-World War II borders as set by the 1947 Paris peace treaty," and, additionally, that Bucharest "recognizes that Serpents’ Island belongs to Ukraine." The new Romanian government understands that the country’s eventual accession to the European Union and NATO depends on "normalizing Romania’s relations with the neighboring countries," Bistreanu stated. Improving relations with Ukraine is "an urgent task of great importance to the new government," the ambassador said. (Flux, January 4)

The statement represents a milestone for Bucharest in that it traces the status quo to the 1947 Paris treaty. Since 1991, when Ukraine became independent, Bucharest has insisted that the Romanian-Ukrainian border is a consequence of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Romania has until now blocked negotiations on a good-neighborly relations treaty with Ukraine by insisting on a clause that would denounce that pact’s consequences, meaning Ukraine’s acquisition of southern Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. In addition, Bucharest has officially asserted a legal title to Serpents’ Island, a Black Sea island that changed hands long after the Paris treaty. Romania’s new president, Emil Constantinescu, has repeatedly stated since his election in November that Bucharest must drop territorial claims on Ukraine and Moldova and sign treaties with them in order to qualify as a candidate for EU and NATO membership. Bistreanu himself had pushed irredentist claims as ambassador to Moldova, from which he was recalled in 1993 at Chisinau’s demand, only to be promptly reassigned to Kiev.

Russian Soldiers Gunned Down in Dushanbe.