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MOLDOVA


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,964 1,621 1,500 141
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 590 460 400 157
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
33,843 

Population 
4,446,455

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Moldovans 64.5%
Ukrainians 13.8%
Russians 13.0%

Capital 
Kishinev 
(Chisinau)

Currency
Leu (plural: Lei)

President 
Vladimir Voronin


Update No: 304 - (28/04/06)

A major crisis is unfolding in Moldova due to worsening relations with Russia. The economy is in dire trouble and that in a country that was already the poorest in Europe.
Moves are afoot to impeach President Vladimir Voronin, linked to his inability to prevent Russia banning Moldovan exports of wines and brandies, a serious matter since 80% of all such exports, the country's main export staple, go to Russia. Indeed, he is being widely blamed for having provoked the ban in the first place by maladroit foreign policy. Also at risk is the country's energy independence. Voronin's tilt towards the West has angered the Kremlin hardliners, who are deeply enmeshed with Transnistria.

Moldovan president top popular politician, says opinion poll
Yet he still enjoys the biggest percentage of trustworthiness with the population among all Moldovan politicians, says an opinion poll, conducted by the Chisinau-based Public Policy Institute, held from March 25th through to April 8th, 2006. A total of 22% of those polled named Voronin as the politician they trusted the most. The poll embraced 1,506 people in twelve towns and villages. 
Arcadie Barbarosie, the director of Public Policy Institute said national parliament speaker Marian Lupu occupied the second position with 5% and Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev had the third ranking.
Another two politicians with some supporters are former Chisinau mayor Serafim Urecheanu and the leader of the oppositionist Popular Christian Democratic Party, Iurie Rosca, who have 2% and 1% respectively.
More than 30% of respondents said, however, they do not trust any politician.
Among the political parties, 17.9% of the people polled gave preference to the ruling Communist Party. Another 2% named the Social Democratic Party, while Moldova Noastre Allience and Popular Christian Democratic Party shared the third place. In the meantime, 48.3% of those polled said a definitive 'no' to a question on whether or not the country has a party that would represent their interests at all. 
Barbarosie said a total of 34.4% of all Moldovan voters would vote for the Communist Party, were the election to be held today. The Popular Christian Democratic Party would be second with 3.9%, Moldova Noastre Alliance, third with 3.2%, and the Social Democratic Party, fourth with 3%.

Impeachment of President Voronin initiated in Moldova
It is believed by many Moldavian wine-makers that they have suffered from the Russian ban on their products because of the anti-Russian policy pursued by Voronin. The question here is not one of quality or sanitary norms; the question is a political one. That is obvious to all of the world. Armenian wines that will now benefit in increased Russian sales are not of any better quality. 
According to one analyst, there is only one way to improve the situation: to "change Moldavia's foreign policy dramatically." The former Moldovan ambassador to Moscow, Andrei Tserne, stresses that "Voronin has put under threat the energy independence of the republic, and now robbed it of the Russian market."
"Undoubtedly, the catalyst for the decision to ban imports of Moldavian wines to Russia has become the Transnistria blockade, so one of the first actions of the Moldavian leadership should be removal of the blockade and final settlement of the Transnistria issue. Voronin had a unique chance to go down in history as unifier of Moldova, I mean Kozak's Memorandum that Voronin blocked. Now from his decision the whole of Moldava suffers," thinks Tserne.
"However, with the current leadership, change of the country's foreign policy is impossible. The main problem is Voronin," states the expert. So he believes, "the only way out from the current situation is immediate shake-up of the country's elite." Patria Moldova is preparing an appeal to the parliament to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Voronin.

Migrant workers in Russia seek to impeach Moldova's Voronin
A Congress of Moldovan migrant workers, whose yearly money transfers to the republic are worth its two national budgets, have also demanded the impeachment of President Vladimir Voronin for his anti-Russian policy. The guest workers fear the policy may deny them jobs in Russia and said it has already brought the republic to the brink of an economic crisis.
"The government is not creating conditions for normal life in the Motherland, so we have to go to Russia in search for work. Tomorrow, given this foreign policy, we'll lose jobs here," one of the leaders of the guest workers, head of the Patria Moldova public organization Andrei Tserne said.
"Today, Moldova is on the brink of an economic catastrophe. Never in the entire centuries-long history of Moldova did it have such tense relations with Russia; and we don't see Russia's fault in it," the Congress said in a resolution. Tserne said "the Moldovan leadership is doing everything to ruin centuries-old friendly relations with Russia. The anti-Russian policy has actually led Moldova to a political, economic, and social dead-end."

Demand to lift blockade of Transnistria 
The Congress demanded that Chisinau lift the blockade of the self-proclaimed Transnistria republic, which, in the delegates' view, resulted in "the wine crisis in Moldova" itself. In early March, Ukraine introduced a new customs procedure for Transnistria -made goods, which bars their transit without clearance by Moldova. As a result, the Transnistria region found itself in an economic blockade and has kept afloat mostly thanks to Russian aid.
The Transnistria region used to export up to US$65 million of goods, or 90 per cent of overall production each month. Its main ethnic mix is as follows: 34 per cent consisting of Moldovans, 28 per cent of Russians, and 26 per cent of Ukrainians. In mid-April, the Transnistria region's losses caused by the economic blockade reached US$95 million.
In late March, Russia reacted by banning imports and sales of wine and brandy from Moldova. The official explanation was the presence of harmful content of pesticides and iron in alcoholic beverages. They did exactly the same thing to Georgia who similarly have refused to accept helot status to Moscow.
Taking into account the fact that Moldova used to export some 80 per cent of its wine to Russia, the ban made idle practically the entire wine industry of the republic. President Voronin acknowledged that Russia's decision was a powerful blow to the Moldovan economy, and called the ban politically motivated, which of course it is. 
Tserne believes that the wine crisis may lay off more than 300,000 workers in wine-making.
At present, Russia has more than 700,000 officially registered migrant workers from Moldova, whose jobs are endangered. According to the newspaper Vzglyad, they transferred home almost US$1.5 billion last year. By contrast Moldova's annual budget revenue is worth just US$600 million.
Moldova has a population of 3.38 million, said the latest census of 2004, which brings the Moldovan workforce in Russia close to 21 per cent of the total. Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS States Vladimir Zharikhin believes the demands by so many migrant workers will make the Moldovan authorities rethink their policies. "Undoubtedly, these demands must be heard. A feedback between the policy toward Russia and the situation in Moldova is being established," Zharikhin said. In other words, Moldova cannot expect to remain politically independent, if it wants to do business with Russia.
"The Moldovan authorities believe they could act as they wish, and that Russia would keep old relations as before. Moldova was receiving cheap gas and selling wines of dubious quality. All this is coming to an end," he underlined. The fact that he speaks of the wine's 'quality', shows who is paying his salary, in no uncertain terms.
In his view, the West, too, played its role in the situation. "Moldova assumes that the way to Europe is through worsened relations with Russia. It believes so because they're hinting at it," Moscow's apologist noted. "As for the Western talk that economics should be separated from politics, such a thing never happened in the world," Zharikhin stressed.
The issues are clear. Transnistria, an unrecognised statelet, only exists because of the massive corruption of senior political and military leaders there and in Russia. It is a nest of international illegal arms dealing, drug trafficking and people smugglers, sustained by Moscow for the rich pickings that accrue. Situated in south eastern Europe on the Ukrainian border, it is it is like a solitary pirate ship concealed in amongst the many great merchant ships of Europe, but protected by a Russian battle fleet stationed nearby. 
President Voronin has offered them a generous deal to reunite bloodlessly, now with some help from the neighbouring Ukrainian government of President Yushchenko. But unity is not what they seek, when there is big money to be won 
The gas price issue, the wine export shock, the threats to Moldovan migrant workers in Russia, are all of a piece to put maximum pressure on Voronin to surrender Moldovan independence, or to have him replaced, and for the small nation to sink back into satellite status with Moscow. It all demonstrates very clearly what a lot of 'black money' must be at stake here. 

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FOREIGN AID

Czech Republic aiding businesses in Moldova


The Czech Republic plans to give millions of crowns to support the development of small businesses in Moldova, according to Tomáš Haišman, head of the Ministry of the Interior's department for asylum and migration policy. 
The ministry decided recently to release Kc 5.8 million (203,000 Euro) by 2008 to help Moldovans set up their own companies; the idea is to help reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the Czech Republic by improving the situation in their country of origin. Moldava, one of the poorest countries in Europe, was recently ranked 99th out of 111 countries for quality of life by the British magazine The Economist. The World Bank ranks it 69th out of 155 countries for ease of starting a business.
"We organize training sessions for small businesspeople who are starting out. The most successful ones will then gain an advantageous loan to launch their small private companies," Interior Minister František Bublan said. He added that some 100 people usually apply for the course and up to 10 of them succeed in being granted the loan. 
The Ministry of the Interior will earmark Kc 1.8 million for the project this year, and another Kc 2 million in each of 2007 and 2008. The ministry cooperates with Czech and foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that administer courses and loans at the target location. 
Haišman said the program is also under way in other countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia, which have been a source of illegal immigrants. The project is a part of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs' foreign development cooperation program, as a result of which Kc 750 million have been allocated.

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