Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
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
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
"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
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.
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.