Igor Bolboceanu, Moldova's ambassador in Ankara, has praised the development of relation between Moldova and Turkey, describing it as "a strategic partnership."
"The visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Moldova in October 2018 gave bilateral relations a new impetus and boosted them to the level of a strategic partnership," said Bolboceanu in an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA).
Erdoğan's trip in October last year made him the first Turkish president to visit Moldova in 24 years.
Bolboceanu said it made a significant contribution to the bilateral ties.
Erdoğan was in Moldova last October on a two-day visit that was aimed at boosting political and trade ties with the former Soviet republic. He met President Igor Dodon for talks at the presidential building, which was reopened for the occasion.
Turkey had funded the repair works at the building after it was ransacked in 2009 by demonstrators protesting elections they said were rigged by the then communist government.
The ambassador said the visit saw five bilateral agreements signed on the free movement of persons, transportation, military training, youth and sports, and education.
The deal on the free movement of people allowed for passport-free visits for citizens of both countries for up to 90 days using their national ID cards. "We are convinced that the new protocol will also increase the number of Moldovan tourists visiting Turkey, one of the main summer holiday destinations," he said.
Bolboceanu added that the free trade agreement signed on Nov. 1, 2016, between the two countries contributed to the development of economic ties, by removing trade barriers, increasing economic flow and creating attractive conditions for foreign investment. The envoy also called for closer cooperation in higher education, adding that 185 Turkish citizens were enrolled in educational institutions in Moldova for the 2017-2018 academic year.
The ambassador said that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) carried out more than 400 projects worth over $40 million in Moldova, especially in Gagauzia, in the past 25 years in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education.
"The Gagauz Community of the Republic of Moldova remains a bridge between Moldova and Turkey, and the Turkic-Gagauzian linguistic similarity may play an important role in the development of business relations," Bolboceanu added.
In December 1994, Moldova's Parliament offered some 160,000 Turkic Gagauz people within their borders a large degree of autonomy in order to create a favorable environment for maintaining national identity and culture.
Erdoğan also visited the Gagauz autonomous region as part of his official visit to Moldova and highlighted the importance of historical and cultural ties between Turkish and Gagauz people. He was welcomed with great enthusiasm, to attend the inauguration ceremony of a Culture House built with the contribution of Altındağ municipality of Turkey's Ankara province.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Erdoğan said that although Turkey shares no physical border with Moldova, it sees the country as one of its neighbors. "We will continue to be a friend of Moldova and the Gagauz Turks in their bad times [and good times]," said Erdoğan, adding that Turkey will also continue to support the Gagauz people to live at the highest standards in their own homeland.