Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 301 - (30/01/06)
A historic predicament
The Moldovans are mighty glad for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which lies
between themselves and mighty Russia. They feel protected by a large neighbour,
now run by a friendly regime, looking, like themselves, westwards, indeed
To their immediate west lies Romania, with which they have close linguistic,
cultural and other historic ties. Romania also now looks Westwards, indeed, it
aspires to join the EU next year.
In the 2001 elections a pro-Russian Communist party won the majority of seats in
the Moldovan Parliament and appointed a Communist president, Vladimir Voronin.
After a few years in power relationships between Moldova and Russia deteriorated
over the Transnistrian conflict. In the following election, held in 2005, the
Communist party made a 180-degree turn and was re-elected on a pro-Western
platform, with Voronin re-elected to a second term as a president by parliament.
During the 2005 parliamentary elections the Russian Federation tried to
influence the election process by intensively favourable coverage of pro-Russian
candidates in the Russian mass media and by organizing meetings and agitation
campaigns using the Russian CIS-EMO organization (so-called "Elections
Monitoring Organization"), which is not recognized internationally as an
independent election observer. This organization was proven to have poor records
from the previous Kyrgyzstan election.
As a response to the security threat, Moldovan authorities denied entry to the
Republic of Moldova for the members of the CIS-EMO organization. Some who
nonetheless made their way into the Republic were found distributing leaflets
and actively participating in the election campaign, despite not having a valid
Moldovan passport or any proof of Moldovan citizenship or any permission from
the election authority. These members were consequently deported from the
country. This action angered the Russian side. As a consequence, Russian-Moldovan
ties greatly weakened, and the nation is split between building ties with the
West or with Russia, its present predicament.
The ethnic Moldovans look to the West; but the Russians in de facto independent
Transnistria to Russia. The Moldovans would be well advised to let them go hang.
They are a hopelessly corrupt lot, indeed a useless lot.
OSCE Ljubljana summit on Transnistria flops
The presidents of Moldova and Romania said after meeting in Bucharest that they
were disappointed with the annual Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) summit regarding the Transnistria dispute, held on 5-6th December.
The summit was expected to make progress in convincing Russia to withdraw its
troops from Moldova's separatist region. But Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin
said he and Romanian President Traian Basescu were dissatisfied with the OSCE
event. Both also criticized the election in the pro-Russian territory later in
December, which its rogue of a president, Igor Smirnov, overwhelmingly won.
Voronin expressed satisfaction that both the OSCE and the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) decided to shun the poll. "We have also discussed
tomorrow's so-called elections for Transnistira's so-called Supreme Soviet --
elections which are not being recognized by the OSCE," Voronin said.
"I am happy that the executive body of the Commonwealth of Independent
States, secretary [Vladimir] Rushailo, has declared that elections are not going
to be monitored by them."
Voronin, speaking in Bucharest at a joint news conference with Basescu on
December 10th, said the Ljubljana meeting failed for the third time to come up
with a solution regarding the Russian troops' withdrawal from Moldova's
separatist region. "First of all, we have discussed the results of the OSCE
summit in Ljubljana," he said. "We are both very unsatisfied by the
results of the summit, because for the third consecutive year, no decision has
been made at the summit regarding the Transnistria problem."
Basescu, meanwhile, reiterated Romania's total support for Moldova's territorial
integrity: "Our point of view regarding the Transnistria conflict is very
clear: Chisinau must obtain political control on its whole territory, in
accordance with the constitution of the Republic of Moldova."
However, Voronin expressed disappointment with the result of a newly launched
European Union monitoring mission along Transnistria's border with Ukraine. The
mission was launched on 30th November and aims to quell rampant arms, drugs and
people's smuggling across Transnistria's border with Ukraine.
Voronin said he's disappointed with the results so far: "We have been
expecting very positive results [out of the EU monitoring mission on the border
between Transnistria and Ukraine], but our initial information does not prove
that such results can actually take place."
Romania to help Moldova counter Russia's gas weapon
Basescu and Voronin also discussed Russia's plans to phase out subsidized gas
prices for ex-Soviet republics that are now independent countries and charge
them international market prices, presaging the very event that startled the
world on New Year's Day, when Russia slashed its gas supplies to Ukraine.
The initial decision, announced by Russia's Gazprom on November 29th, was widely
criticized as a means to pressure ex-Soviet states such as Ukraine, Georgia, and
Moldova who are seeking closer relations with the West.
In a commitment that must have gladdened Voronin's heart, Basescu said that the
Romanian government is ready to offer Moldova gas and electricity in case prices
charged by Russia rise excessively. "I reassured President Voronin that in
case of any difficulties Moldova could face regarding an excessive rise in the
price of natural gas and electricity, it should not hesitate to appeal to
Bucharest for help," he said. "We will always be ready to support
Moldova, no matter how big the difficulties."
Voronin was in Bucharest on a one-day visit. He and Basescu were later due to
open the Moldovan Wine Festival in Bucharest. Romanians doubtless regard an
eventual re-union of their country with Bessarabia as an inevitable and welcome
development, even though it is not likely to happen.
EU urges Russia, Moldova to resume gas talks
This is not something the Kremlin wants to see happen, however. Ironically, the
more Moldova develops its relations with Romania and Ukraine, the more
reasonable the Russians are likely to be.
This is attested by an interesting report by Alexander Shishlo of RIA Novosti
The European Union urged Russia and Moldova on January 10th to resume
negotiations on supplies of Russian natural gas to the former Soviet republic.
Against the backdrop of the recent culmination of a bitter gas dispute between
Russia and neighbouring Ukraine, Austria, which is currently presiding over the
EU, released a statement calling on both parties to resume bilateral talks to
achieve a fair and mutually acceptable solution.
Earlier, Sergei Kupriyanov, spokesman for the Russian natural gas monopoly
Gazprom, said the company expected to sign a contract on gas supplies with
Moldova shortly, which surprised many observers.
"A contract [on natural gas supplies] with Moldova for 2006 has not been
signed yet, but the Moldovan side has assured us that all [related] issues will
be coordinated soon, and the contract will be signed," he said, adding that
Gazprom's proposed price of US$160 per 1,000 cu m was "economically
justified." (Far more then the current Ukrainian compromise price).
On January 2nd, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin discussed by phone the
situation around gas supplies from Russia with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor
Yushchenko, who promised the Moldovan leader to help the country with gas
supplies from Ukrainian reserves.
Voronin said Gazprom's price was not a fair market price since Russia and
Moldova jointly ran operator Moldovagaz, but said "the Moldovan government
should continue negotiations with the Russian side.
Moldova to allocate US$10m for defence needs
Moldova will allocate almost US$10 million for its military needs in 2006,
Moldovan Defence Minister, Valeriu Plesca, said recently, RIA Novosti reported.
"The government earmarked 126 million leus (about US$10 million) for
military purposes in 2006, which is 8.8 per cent more than last year," the
defence ministry's press service quoted the minister as saying. Plesca said the
defence ministry would use the funds to modernise the country's air defence
GPRS roaming launched in Moldova
The Moldova based GSM network operator, Moldcell, has launched, what it says is
the first GPRS Roaming service in Moldova. Moldcell subscribers that have both
Roaming and GPRS services activated have the opportunity to enjoy the GPRS
Roaming Services, New Europe reproted.
The first bilateral operators on December 27th were Turkcell, Turkey, and
Azercell, Azerbaijan. The usage of GPRS Roaming services doesn't require new
settings for mobile phone. These will be available on the base of GPRS and MMS
regular settings for Moldcell network.