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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)

Books on Moldova

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: 296 - (26/08/05)

Communist revival
The Moldovans have the only communist party in power in Europe. Moreover, it is popular, being re-elected in March. It is much less corrupt than its predecessors and has been paying state employees on time and, indeed, upping salaries and pensions. 
There is a moral here. The party lost its careerists in the early 1990s when it seemed to have little future. The remaining members are genuine idealists by and large who convey the impression that they really care about the welfare of the people, not just themselves and their cronies.
Nevertheless, Moldova remains one of Europe's poorest nations, if not its poorest, with unemployment running around 30%, in spite of annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in excess of 6%. Up to one third of the country's working-age citizens are employed abroad, according to recent government estimates.
President Vladimir Voronin has promised Moldovans sweeping reforms that will place the country on the path to European integration.

Tarlev lays out five-year reform plan for Moldova
Newly-appointed Moldovan Prime Minister, Vasyliy Tarlev, has outlined his government's five-year plan recently for these reforms in the country.
The government has named five priority areas for reforms including modernisation of the economy, reunification with the renegade province, Transnistria, improved quality of life for Moldovans, rule of law and European integration. "The programme takes into account the basic problems of the country and presents concrete policies for their resolution," Tarlev said in a parliamentary speech. The engine for change in the former Soviet republic would be the country's growing commercial class, which according to the government plan would work closely with the state to develop modern industries and create more jobs.
Tarlev named changes in banking and corporate laws in order to increase foreign investment as another top task for the government. "Only in this way can we modernise our labour market," Tarlev said. Tax reform also would come in for early government attention, Tarlev said, with widespread cuts planned to be pushed through parliament in coming weeks. Profit tax according to bills set to be submitted to the legislature would fall from the present 18% to as low as 7%, with small businesses receiving the biggest breaks, he said.
The Communist party of Moldova, which is committed to the reforms, controls a stable majority in parliament. A medium-term goal for the tax reforms is stimulation of domestic consumer goods and food production, in order to reduce imports and created jobs, Tarlev said. "Healthy and vibrant Moldovan small business is the only way to go forward," he said. Dramatic pension increases are planned as well, with the average retiree set to receive triple the present average pension, of around US$20 a month. A strong economy and stable government receipts will pay for the increase without placing addition burden on the national budget, Tarlev promised.
Education and health also will receive similar financing increases, he said. 

Moldova parliament debates status for Transnistria 
Moldova's parliament recently kicked off a debate on unique legislation giving the breakaway region Transnistria wide rights of self rule, according to Infotag news agency. The bill, if passed, would reverse long-standing Moldovan opposition to a semi-autonomous status for the province, and would possibly set the stage for a first-ever fair plebiscite by Transnistria's citizens on a return to Moldovan sovereignty. 
Russian-speaking Transnistria seceded from Romanian-speaking Moldova after a civil war ending in 1992. Since then the Moldovan government has insisted the region return to Moldovan control without any change in Transnistria's legal status, or expansion of Transnistrian autonomy. The legislation recognises Transnistria as a unique administrative district of Moldova, and makes legal the inclusion into that district of any village on the left bank of Dniestr River, provided the village's inhabitants decide to do so in a free and fair referendum. Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would conduct the vote, and its progress would be monitored by Council of Europe observers. 
Regional analysts see the proposal as critical first step to a renewal on reunification talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Transnistria has walked out on them repeatedly on grounds returning to Moldovan control, without guaranteed autonomous status, would threaten the rights of ethnic Russians in Transnistria. 
The bill among other guarantees gives Transnistrian citizens the right to use the Russian language in the region without limit, and in communications and documents used at the national level of government as well. 
The language clause if made law would not only reverse a key Moldovan foreign policy position held by Chisinau for more than a decade, but also effectively concedes to Transnistria language rights terms that, in 1991, Moldova went to war to oppose. 
The legislation requires a 60 percent majority to become Moldovan law. President Vladimir Voronin, whose Communist party controls 71 seats in the 101-member house, supports the measure.

OSCE welcomes Transnistria law 
Chief of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) permanent mission in Moldova William Hill welcomed the law on the status of Transnistria passed by the Moldovan parliament, Interfax has reported.
Hill told the press on the law guarantees the granting of a special status to Transnistria as part of Moldova, which is most important. Other issues, including power sharing and the parties' guarantees are to be discussed after democratic elections are held in the region, Hill said.

The dubiety of the Transnistria connection
Nevertheless, there is a new startling - and decidedly sinister - development coming to light. Transnistria has long ruled by a Stalinist tyrant with a lugubrious name, Igor Smirnov, and an even more lugubrious regime. He achieved the unique feat four years ago of winning elections in certain areas by 103%!
Transnistria's existing authoritarian government supports Soviet-style central planning and a powerful secret police. It has never allowed a fair election. The republic makes a living out of smuggling, particularly out of the arms trade. It is closely tied to Russia, which still has a big military base there; indeed, it is Europe's largest arsenal of illegal arms. It is not clear whether the Russian beneficiaries of the obvious corruption, that has for fourteen years permitted this monstrous regime to sell arms from Russian military stockpiles, include the Kremlin itself, or an out of control Russian military establishment. Clearly the pay-off must be substantial indeed. Apart from the biological and chemical weaponry traded, there are scores of Alazan rockets. They are being held at a former Soviet base, Kolbasna, which has 50,000 tons of weapons, including artillery shells, mines and anti-aircraft missiles, making it the largest such stockpile in Europe.
The Alazan is a slender rocket, 4ft 7in long, with a range of eight miles and a 'radioactive' warhead, deemed the ideal terrorist weapon by experts. 
In 2003, according to a report in the London Sunday earlier this year, it emerged that at least 38 Alazans were fitted with warheads containing up to 400g of ceasium-137 and strontium-90. If they had fallen into terrorist hands specialists said, they could have cause devastation for miles if detonated in a big city centre. There would be contamination over a wide area, with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands - a human-contrived tsunami.
The Sunday Times, in a brilliant exercise of investigative journalism, sent a reporter posing as a middleman for an Islamicist terrorist organisation to see if it was possible to procure an Alazan. It was, for US$200,000, not such a vast sum and well within the reach of al-Qaeda and the like. The intermediary on the Transnistrian side was a certain 'Dimitri,' who spoke fluent English with an American accent. The price was non-negotiable; but the other conditions of its sale were eminently negotiable.

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ENERGY

UES acquires power plant in Moldova's rebel region 

Russia's power grid operator Unified Energy Systems (UES) has bought a controlling stake in a hydro power plant based in Moldova's breakaway Transnistria region from a Russian-Belgian joint venture Saint Gidon Invest, BBC reported recently. 
Meanwhile, Transnistria region has launched criminal proceedings against Saint Gidon Invest over fraud allegedly committed during the power plant's privatisation in late 2003. 
The Russian joint stock company Nordic, which is a subsidiary of the Russian power giant, has acquired a 51 per cent stake in the Moldovan hydro power plant closed joint stock company, which is controlled by the authorities of the unrecognised Transnistria Moldovan Republic (as received, the plant was previously owned by Saint Gidon Invest) Infotag news service reported. 
Nordic paid 1.4bn roubles (US$50m), Unified Energy System's financial report said. Infotag reported earlier that in 2003, UES and Gazprom participated in a bid to privatise the power plant. However, the Transnistria economics ministry sold the plant to the (Russian-Belgian) Saint Gidon Invest company, which paid US$29m for a 100 per cent stake. Initially, the Transnistria region wanted to sell the power plant for US$100m in order to be able to upgrade the plant and boost Transnistria's state budget revenues. 
The Moldovan hydro power plant, which was built in 1964, has not been doing well recently. Only two or three generating sets out of 12 have been operational. The plant urgently needed repairs and a thorough upgrade. For this reason, the contract stipulated that the company that bought the plant should invest an additional US$160.83 million in the upgrade and the upkeep of the town of Dnestrovsk where the plant is based. When a deal to resell the power plant to UES was mooted, the Transnistria authorities raised the issue of redistributing investment commitments proportionally to the size of the stake to be sold. 
"As a result of the latest deal, the power plant will be able to buy cheaper gas," said Elena Chernenko, economics minister of Transnistria. UES is interested in "the plant's high export potential which makes it possible to supply electricity to the Balkan market and east European states." The power plant privatisation controversy is not over yet. Transnistria prosecutors have established that offences that can be qualified as fraud were committed during the privatisation. Criminal proceedings have been launched. 
The output of the Moldovan hydro power plant is 2,520 MWt, according to Infotag. It is planned that six generating sets will be operational by the end of 2005, the news service added. 
After the upgrade programme is completed in 2008, nine generating sets are expected to work. Experts from UES believe that both the plant's output and the capacity of the local power grid will make it possible to export up to 1,200 MWt to southeastern Europe.

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