Last week I had the opportunity to visit Georgia, at the invitation to a professional meeting. It was my first trip after more than a year of pandemics. The fact that I come from Moldova, however, made traveling almost impossible.
To leave Moldova and especially to enter any country in the world, one needs a negative PCR test for COVID-19. To do a test two days before the trip, especially a test written in English is a task close to impossible in Chișinău. The state clinics do not write the results of the tests in English, the private clinics have them, but the closest appointment was available only after ten days, i.e. when I already had to return from the trip. Some private clinics do not make appointments at all. However, they all take a lot for a test: 40 euros. Finally, I managed to get a test at a private clinic situated at the other end of the city, which took me a lot of time. Hurray, I succeeded! I already had the test in English, the ticket, and the insurance, when I found out that the trip was still not possible.
A day before my departure, the organizers informed me that I had to fill in a form on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, announcing my entry into this state, from which country I come, and what route I will come by. It seemed very simple at first, but in no time I realized that it was the most complicated thing. I could not fill in the form just because I come from Moldova.
It was one of the few cases when I regretted living in this country. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry accepts people from virtually every country in the world; however, it had a blacklist, whose citizens were not accepted. India was on this list, for the new COVID-19 stem and for the extremely large number of infected persons. What about Moldova? Why was it on the list, if there was no Moldovan stem declared, nor were there too many cases reported, and the number of available vaccines seems to be the same as in civilized states? I did not understand exactly why Moldova was blacklisted. It was certain, however, that when you opened the link to check the country from which you leave, Moldova did not appear in that list as if it did not exist at all. I called the Georgian authorities and received a sad answer: Moldova is on the blacklist of dangerous states in terms of the pandemic, and no Moldovan can enter Georgia.
I tried to see what the attitude towards Romania is. Yes, Romanians can travel to Georgia at any time if they have a negative test. However, even if you have a Romanian passport, you can’t depart from Moldova. You have to go to Romania, have a PCR test done in Romania, and fly from Romania to Georgia. That’s what I did, but it was a big waste of time and extra expenses. However, testing at Bucharest Airport reached another level: you can do tests anytime, without prior appointment, and without any stress or long commutes.
Deviating from my route through Bucharest was a harrowing lesson: in Moldova, it is not enough to be a citizen who respects the rules, who pays taxes, who fights for human rights, who does not commit violations, who respects the laws. When you need to leave it, this state will create obstacles you were not aware of, it will subject you to expenses that you are not prepared for and it will consume your time. This state will humiliate you to the point that you grit your teeth when you have to come back.
There was another lesson, about respect for a Romanian, therefore, European citizen. Upon arriving at Tbilisi Airport, with the test, the passport, and the ticket – all set up in Romania, I was immediately admitted and informed in English that I am welcome in Georgia. Moreover, at the counter next door I was surprised to hear a passenger declare in Russian: Я гражданка Румынии. У меня все румынское: и паспорт, и тест, и билет! (“I’m a citizen of Romania. My passport is Romanian, as well as the test and the ticket.” ed. note) So, the pride of having a Romanian passport sounds beautiful in Russian as well.
A few days later, upon departure, after the routine check of the passport, the border police asked me a question that again emphasized the comfort and discomfort of being a citizen of two countries: “You are a European citizen, I see that you are flying to Moldova, do you have a visa?”
I couldn’t explain to them that I do not need a visa, because my stem and roots are in Chișinău and I can’t break from them.