Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Formerly ruled by Romania, Moldova became part of the Soviet Union at the
close of World War II. Although independent from the USSR since 1991,
Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Nistru (Dnister)
River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and
Russians, who have proclaimed a "Transnistria" republic. One of the
poorest nations in Europe and plagued by a moribund economy, in 2001
Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a communist as its
Update No: 282 - (30/06/04)
Russia and EU wary of Moldova
Nobody wants to take on the basket-case of the Moldovan economy. Moscow has not proposed that Moldova joins the Union of Belarus and Russia, although Ukraine is being invited to join.
It is ironic that this Soviet nostalgia trip is excluding the one country left from the former USSR that actually has a communist party in power. But the hard facts gainsay Moldovan participation, at least yet. It is not a primarily Slav nation, unlike the other three. So its exclusion makes cultural as well as economic sense.
The European Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, has ruled out EU membership for Moldova, and Ukraine, for twenty years. After the recent enlargement to include ten newcomers, this pessimistic appraisal is not surprising. It comes from a very influential figure in European politics. What he says is likely to go.
Nevertheless, in early June a three-year Action Plan with the EU was announced. The Moldovans are hoping for associated member status at the end of this period. Meanwhile a swathe of commercial and financial agreements will be negotiated.
Closer ties with Romania
An easier way forward is for Moldova to negotiate closer bilateral relations with individual countries. The key country here is Romania, with whom it shares close cultural and linguistic ties already.
President Vladimir Voronin met President Ion Iliescu of Romania at the summit of the Heads of State from Central Europe in Mamaia in May. The two agreed on the need for closer relations.
Iliescu, who hails from neighbouring Bukovina in northern Romania, has a predilection for northerners over the southerners he resides with in Bucharest. He is the very person to promote
better cooperation between the two countries. But he is alarmed at the 'anti-Romanian' sentiment abroad in Moldova. This is largely confined to the Russian and other Slav components of its population. As it so happens, Voronin is of Russian ethnicity himself and heads a communist party nostalgic for the old days under Moscow's wing. But he is free of any crude race prejudice himself and can see the huge advantages that could accrue from the closer relationship.
Transport improvements with foreign help
Upgrading relations with all its neighbours, not just Romania, is obviously an excellent idea. It is being done by a series of improvements to road and other transport links, throwing open tenders to do so to all comers.
The Moldovan government will announce in the near future an international tender for the right to design, build and use the Chisinau-Jurjulesti highway. The government approved the monitoring of the project by members of a commission. This is going to be a part of the European highway E577 Poltava - Kirovograd - Chisinau - Jurjulesti - Galati - Slobozia, and it will ensure a link between pan-European corridors IV and XI.
The Chisinau - Jurjulesti highway is going to be 217km long. Reconstruction work on the old road began in 1985, but only 34km was completed.
Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Vasile Zgardan, said that this highway is vitally important for the national economy, but the state does not have the means to realise the project that will cost US$100-120m. A total of US$30m is going to be financed within a Stability Pact regional project.
Zgardan said that upon completion of feasibility studies, the commission will work out a protocol of intention, according to which the remaining finance will be attracted through passing the Chisinau-Jurjulesti highway to investors under concession.
In the near future, the Moldovan government is to announce one more tender - to build a port in southern Moldova, but separately from the Jurjulesti oil terminal (on the Danube). This will enable more traffic on the new toll highway, which will be advantageous to the concessionaires. The project envisages also the construction of an alternative road for motorists and travellers who cannot afford to pay the toll on the would-be highway.
FOOD & DRINK
Major winery falls into Moldovan hands
The governmental commission for wine and tobacco sector privatisation recently approved the sale of the Nis-Struguras winery of Nisporeni town to DK-Intertrade, a Moldovan private company, Infotag reported.
The Nis-Struguras privatisation contest was announced in March. Apart from Nis-Struguras, the winery attracted the interest of Moldgre company. This was a third attempt to privatise 99.97% of the state-owned enterprise having an equity of 57.6m lei, and all the three competitions were held with the assistance of Moldovan government's financial adviser - Raiffeisen Investment company of Austria. DK-Intertrade offered US$1.75m for the winery, plus US$5.1m to be invested in its production development.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
Moldova to get US$40m in aid from USA
The USA will provide assistance to Moldova to the amount of US$40m in 2004, Infotag News Agency reported.
The statement was made by Carlos Pascual, the coordinator for US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia and co-chairman of the Moldovan-American working group for economic and investment cooperation, at a news conference on June 3rd in Chisinau, which followed the second meeting of the above mentioned committee.
Pascual said agriculture and the development of agrarian businesses will be priority targets for US assistance and will receive US$12m.
Carlos Pascual said US$9.5m out of the total US$40m assistance will be used to support the social sector and humanitarian programmes and US$11m will go to ensure national security and correct fulfilment of legislation, in particular in terms of providing border control and combating corruption.
In addition, US$6m will be invested in promoting democratic organizations and supporting the local public authorities and NGOs, and US$2m will be used to support other activities. In 2003, the US government rendered Moldova assistance to the amount of US$41.3m to underpin the development of democracy, economic and social reforms, national security, other law-enforcement structures and humanitarian assistance.
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