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Key Economic Data 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
Millions of US $ 1,621 1,500 1,300 144
GNI per capita
 US $ 460 400 400 162
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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ethnic groups 
Moldovans 64.5%
Ukrainians 13.8%
Russians 13.0%


Leu (plural: Lei)

Vladimir Voronin


Update No: 288 - (01/01/05)

Moldova says Russian military presence illegitimate 
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has described as humiliating Russia's presence in Moldova. "What could be the reason for preserving Russia's presence in Moldova, especially taking into account its symbolic scale? Are we capable of being friends with Moscow only under the threat of a thousand of Russian gunmen? Or maybe these soldiers are resolving Russia's global strategic tasks in the Balkans?" Voronin said at a recent congress of the Moldovan Party of Communists that he leads. 
"This military presence is insulting our people and our neutral state, which sincerely believes in friendship and strategic partnership with Russia without military mediation and without humiliating ultimatums," he said. 
"This is why we did not sign a memorandum [a Russian plan for settling the conflict over Transdniestria], which would have extended Russia's military presence for another 20 years. We believe Moldova cannot and must not aid and abet in concealing the real amount of armaments that are being kept in Transdniestria," Voronin said. 
He described the Russian troops in Transdniesrtia as "the last shield for the separatists." The self-proclaimed Transdniestrian republic is seeking independence from Moldova, part of which it was before the collapse of the USSR.
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry has issued a statement calling the limited Russian military presence on Moldova's territory unfounded and illegitimate. The statement was circulated following a comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which was described in Chisinau as a "gross interference in the internal affairs of Moldova." "The Russian Foreign Ministry's comment does not answer the question concerning the legitimacy of the presence of a limited Russian troop contingent on the Moldovan territory," the statement says. 
Addressing OSCE foreign ministers in Sofia on December 6, Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan described the Russian military presence in Moldova as "occupation" and Moldova as its "victim". 
On December 15 the Russian Foreign Ministry circulated a comment saying that "such interpretation of the real state of affairs can't be assessed other than absurd, irresponsible and obviously unfriendly."

International organized crime obstructs Transdniestria settlement - Voronin 
Voronin has suggested that the conflict over Transdniestria has still not been settled because of a corruptive complicity among some of the former and current Moldovan and Transdniestrian government officials and international organized crime. Speaking at the congress of the Moldovan Party of Communists that he leads, Voronin called the Transdniestria conflict "the main issue of Moldova's statehood," adding that this is "not a conflict between public interests of the residents of the left and right banks of the Dniester River." 
Recalling events that predetermined the Transdniestria conflict, Voronin said that Chisinau and Tiraspol "launched a cynical game" in the early 1990s, which led to "a protracted bloody drama." 
As a result, "a criminal economic scheme" has been set up, which "would draw no less eager interest of international organized crime even if Transdniestria would be three square meters in size," he said. 
Voronin harshly criticized Moldovan opposition, saying that it "fiercely condemns Chisinau steps aimed at isolating that pirate enclave." 
"Attempts have been made to shield large money with large state interests of large countries, although in reality the Transdniestria settlement should be handled not by diplomats in a five-sided format but by prosecutors from Russia, Moldova, and Ukraine, with Interpol engaged," he said. 

The history of the problem
Transdniestria -- populated mainly by Russian speakers -- unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Moldova, which is mainly Romanian-speaking, in 1990. Russian forces were forced to intervene in the region in 1992 after fighting between the opposing sides left hundreds dead. It effectively broke away from Moldova after a 1992 war that left more than 1,500 dead before ending in a truce.
Reunification talks between Moldova and the rebel province have been suspended since July, when separatists closed two Moldovan-language schools in the region. One of the schools has since been reopened, but Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin is refusing to continue direct talks with separatist leader Igor Smirnov. Moldova said on September 30th that it was fed up with trying to end its long-running territorial squabble with Transdniestr by dealing directly with the separatist region and instead wanted the United States and the European Union to step in.
Trans-Dniester is not recognized anywhere internationally, but receives support from Russia. Moldova has opposed restarting negotiations with Trans-Dniester in the current format, with the talks mediated by Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Moldova is unhappy that Russia and Ukraine often side with the separatists, and wants more European involvement in the settlement talks.
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said that henceforth there would be no more negotiations with the separatist authorities because talks between the two have got nowhere. "Negotiations have been unsatisfactory and counterproductive; while Moldova applies the terms of the agreements signed, Transdniestr ignores them in 99 % of cases," he said. 
"Negotiations between the five (Moldova, Transdniestr, Russia, Ukraine and the pan-European Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) have been going on for 12 years now, but nothing has come out of them," said Voronin, adding that he wanted greater involvement by the EU and the United States to find a solution.
Stepping into the breach, Pierferdinando Casini. Italy's Chamber of Deputies, said on November 5th, at a meeting with his counterpart in Moldova, Eugenia Ostapciuc, that the EU considers "the Trans-Dniester conflict as a possible threat to the stability of the region and to international security.We are concerned by the halting of talks and the recent escalation of tensions between the two sides." Italy would act as Moldova's advocate to help the former Soviet country in its European integration.
The EU's new ambassador in Moldova echoed Casini's comments. "The EU wants to play a more active role in the settlement of the conflict," said Ian Boag, after meeting with President Vladimir Voronin. Boag added that the EU and Russia can discuss the Trans-Dniester conflict without getting into a "geopolitical conflict." 

Smirnov reacts
But the US and the EU are unlikely to make any progress with the embattled and retrograde leadership in Transdniestr. "Unification with Moldova is out of the question after Chisinau has refused to form a federation with the Dniester region," Dniester regional leader Igor Smirnov said at an international scientific conference in Tiraspol. The conference was dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. 
He said Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin had resiled from his own federalization idea "under the pressure of the United States, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)." 
Smirnov called for holding a referendum, in which residents of the Dniester region will decide on their future. "International observers must watch the plebiscite, so that its results become a law for us and the international community, primarily in the person of the United State, the European Union and the OSCE," Smirnov said. 
Meanwhile, Voronin has again criticized the Moldovan opposition and called it "the fifth column of the Dniester region." "There are forces inside and outside Moldova, which do not want the existence of the independent Moldovan state," he said at another conference marking the 80th anniversary of the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. 
The Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established within Ukraine in 1924 and existed till the establishment of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic on August 2, 1940. After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, nationalist parties, which took office in Chisinau, proclaimed the policy of unification with Romania. In response Tiraspol established its own state, which triggered an armed conflict.



Efes to finance Moldovan brewer

Efes Breweries International has plans to invest US$10m into its Moldovan subsidiary Efes Vitanta Moldova Breweries in 2005, New Europe reported recently. 
Vitanta's Director General Yakov Tikhman said the investment improves on the US$7m invested in 2003-2004. Efes Vitanta saw sales of US$25m in 2003. Tikhman said sales were expected to reach to increase 20% in 2004.



Moldovan president, Bulgarian Speaker discuss bilateral ties

The development of trade and economic relations between Bulgaria and Moldova and the European integration were the main topics of talks between the Bulgarian National Assembly Chairman, Ognyan Gerdzhikov, and Moldovan President, Vladimir Voronin, Gerdzhikov said recently, BTA web site reported.
Trade and economic relations are important as there is no sense in good political relations, if they are not followed by trade and economy, Gerdzhikov added. In 1997 the trade between the two countries exceeded US$100m, while currently it stood at some US$20m, which according to him is unacceptable. President Voronin expressed the categorical determination that Moldova will follow the steps of Bulgaria for integration in Europe, the National Assembly chairman said. Commenting on the request of the Bulgarian community in Moldova for a simplified Bulgarian citizenship procedure, Gerdzhikov said that experts are preparing documents on the exact formula for obtaining citizenship.
The Bulgarian ambassador to Moldova, Evgenii Ekov, said that the number of Bulgarian citizenship applications increased after Moldova amended its constitution and six laws to permit dual citizenship. A total of 820 applications have been received in 2004 so far, and half of them are from Bulgarians living in the Transdniestr, he added. According to him, 99 per cent of the candidates receive Bulgarian citizenship. 
Taraclia State University has been commissioned with the responsible but noble mission to develop cultural relations between the peoples of Bulgaria and Moldova, to throw bridges not only between the territories of two friendly states, but between past and future as well, Gerdzhikov said, as he addressed the lecturers and students of the higher educational establishment.
More than 18,000 Bulgarians live in the Taraclia region. They are descendants of Bulgarians from northeastern Bulgaria who migrated there at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The living of more than half of the 90,000 Bulgarians who live in Moldova is related to agriculture. Mostly tobacco and vines are grown in Bulgarian villages. The Bulgarian parliamentary delegation also visited the Bulgarian village of Korten.



Refinement to phone service under way in Moldova

The national fixed-line operator Moldtelecom recently started providing access services to the Dniestr fixed-line telephone network through IP-telephony, Moldtelecom officials said, Infotag news agency reported.
Access to the fixed-line telephone network of Interdnestrcom [the only company which provides fixed-line and mobile telephone services to the CDMA standard in Dniestr region] is possible through two methods: the one-to-one cards for IP-telephony and the IP VIP Call telephone service.
The fixed-line telephone connection between Moldova and Dniestr region has continued to be blocked since September 2003. [Since then, Dniestr residents can call to Moldova through a third operator, while Moldovan residents have no possibility of calling Dniestr region.]



Moldova to invest in new railway

The Moldovan government will build a railway section that will ensure railway transportation with the country's southern regions bypassing Transnistria, RBC reported recently. 
The railway will bypass the Bendery station that has been controlled by Transnistrian military authorities since the beginning of September 2004, the press service of the Moldovan government told RBC. US$22m was allocated for the implementation of this project from the Moldovan budget. The construction is expected to be completed by December 1st, 2005.





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