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MOLDOVA


 

 

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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Update No: 320 - (26/07/07)

The EU option 
It is a curiosity that the two richest countries in Europe, leaving aside Luxembourg (more of a city than a nation), oil-rich Norway, and Switzerland, are steadfastly outside the EU whilst they do subscribe 'de facto' to several of its institutions, the Schengen 'no passports' arrangements for example. The Swiss government having negotiated their entry saw a national referendum turn it down. Still, the next richest, Ireland, has done brilliantly out of EU membership, and now in a curious twist of history, to the point that it has far overtaken its erstwhile nemesis, the UK, in its standard of living, without an impoverished under-class.

Moldova is at the opposite end of the scale, being the poorest country in Europe. It has been overtaken by Albania. Its whole population - bar a privileged few - is an impoverished under-class. 

It would dearly like to emulate Eire, once as poor as itself. Its route to riches, it is convinced, lies via Brussels.

EU membership for Moldova tied to Transdniester settlement, independence
But European Union membership is out of the question for Moldova until it first solves the territorial status of Transdniester. European officials also say that any solution must comply with the will of Transdniestria's voters. The inhabitants of the enclave, an unrecognised (by anybody) state, according to their domestic polling agencies, are overwhelmingly in favour of independent statehood. An informal European Union-Moldova meeting at the level of deputy foreign ministers was held in Brussels on 24 August, Moldova's state-run news agency Moldpres reports.

The meeting came as Moldova is scrambling for support from the European Union and just a week before the 17th independence anniversary of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR), the official name for the 'de facto' independent republic of Transdniester. 

According to official claims, the activities of the Moldovan authorities are streamlined towards the complete fulfilment of the Moldova-EU Action Plan, which is to be concluded in February 2008. But EU officials see things differently. The reform plan agreed with Brussels has failed to bring changes to Moldova, which remains mired in corruption and government involvement in crime.

" - If this plan were executed it would bring Moldova up to European criteria," said a European diplomat quoted by EUbusiness, noting particularly government failures on defending human rights and media freedom. 

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International human rights groups such as Amnesty International have criticized Moldova for allowing torture and for a lack of basic civil rights. Following widespread allegations of fraud by Moldova's long-ruling government, the United States refused to call Moldova's last elections in 2005 free or fair. The same of course goes for Transdnistria, which has been a by-word in the region for corruption and in particular, arms smuggling worldwide. 

Moldovan officials insist they are on course for EU membership even though the EU sees things differently.

" - The EU is making efforts to help us. It listens to our requests but in the end we have to help ourselves," said Daniela Cujba, head of the Moldovan foreign ministry department for cooperation with the EU. Cujba says Moldova is hoping for the "same status as Croatia and Macedonia," which are official candidates for EU membership.

Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said that EU membership has been Moldova's "firm intention" since 2002. But amid ambivalence in the EU about future enlargement, membership for Moldova looks far off. " - Neither Georgia nor Ukraine nor Moldova has any prospect for joining the EU," said Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union (EU), prior to a recently held Russia-EU summit which also underscored the need to seek a permanent political settlement for Transdniester which respects the will of its 550,000 inhabitants.

Moldova at the time of its own independence from the USSR failed in its 1992 attempt to subdue this breakaway province by use of military force, and both the OSCE and the European Union have since ruled out any military attempts to solve the conflict. This leaves Moldova with few options except a peacefully negotiated settlement, which must lead to supervised independence if it has to respect the will of the voters in the region.

Europe: Peaceful outcome must respect will of voters 
Moldova is a full member of both the US-led coalition in Iraq and of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, which is the first step to a membership in the military alliance.

But lately, Moldova's willingness to join NATO and the EU has received a setback. While NATO still continues to step up its close military collaboration with the country, NATO rules prevent full membership for Moldova until the issue of its territorial claim on Transdniester is resolved. And the EU's Vaclav Klaus recently told the press that it "would be unwise to accept Moldova's EU membership before solving the Transnistria issue."

" - Trying to accept another Cyprus that will be divided into two parts, making a similar mistake in the case of Moldova, would be unwise," said the Czech President during a summit in May. Transdniester (officially: Pridnestrovie) seceded from the now-dissolved Moldavian SSR in 1990, while it was still part of the Soviet Union and one year before Moldova became an independent country.

Before Moldova can have any hope of achieving membership of either NATO or the European Union, it must first find a peaceful solution to the issue of Transdniester. The only solution which will be acceptable to Europe is one that adheres to what the voters in Transdniester want. On 16 September 2005, referring to the settlement of the status of Transdniester, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe noted that that "any solution must accord with the popular will as expressed in fully free and democratic elections" (which they have never known). The solution therefore might be to allow a properly administered OSCE referendum, having allowed equal media opportunities for some months in advance, so that the will of the people might for the first time ever, be made known.

Voters in Transdniester have never yet had independent or internationally supervised elections, and most of the regime's claims are based on less than objective local or Russian agencies, dubious research, so the repeated claims that they are overwhelmingly in favour of independence, have not been tested. 

For Brussels, any solution must accord with the will of the voters. Brussels is wary of making the Transdniester issue another bone of contention in the EU's already complicated relations with Moscow, because of course this is the crux of the matter. The regime in Transdneister is Russian sponsored!

For many years Russian officials have been instrumental in using Moldova as a conduit for illegal international arms dealing, and Russia has put massive pressure on Moldova to force their hand to accept their independence. The EU it seems is not getting involved, which is nothing to their credit. 

There is no food crisis in Moldova, despite drought, Moldovan leadership says.

There is no a food crisis in Moldova, and there are no premises for an eventual crisis of bread, despite the 2007 drought, Premier Vasile Tarlev said at a meeting with district heads. 

Vasile Tarlev said that, although the harvest of the first group wheat is 45 per cent under the expectations, a national tender on purchasing wheat has been announced already, and if the necessary quantity of wheat is not bought for Moldova's needs, there are several contracts on buying wheat from abroad already. 

The premier specified that, at present the bread's price of acquisition from the domestic producers is 3.3 lei, and it is higher than the purchasing price from abroad, so that the people should dare and sell their goods, otherwise the necessary wheat will be bought from abroad. 

Tarlev said that some leaders of farms deliberately do not make public the real results of the harvest, distorting their record, stocked the wheat in reserves, and delay the payment to the owners of the lands taken on lease, thus artificially creating conflict situations, nervousness and panic among the population. 

"It is incontestably the fact that the losses in the agro-food sector, preponderantly in the wake of the drought, and in some settlements accompanied by torrential rains and hail, are irrecoverable. The value of losses is over one billion lei only in cereal and vegetable crops of the first group alone, according to estimations by specialists," Tarlev said. 

At the same time, the head of the government specified that it is necessary to correctly inform the population as regards the calamities' consequences. Vasile Tarlev said, that in 2007, financial means worth 665 million lei in all have been allocated from the state budget to support the agricultural sector. As a result of the maintenance of the high temperatures, the volume of losses in the agricultural sector increases day after day, and influences the diminution of the harvest of the late crops, fruits and vegetables. 

According to Tarlev, a complicated situation is registered in the fruit plantations too. Only the vine plantations are in a relatively satisfactory situation of all the types of agricultural crops at present, and a harvest of about 560,000 tons of production-goods is scheduled to be got. At the same time, the losses will exceed 1.7 billion lei in the production of meat because of the drought. 

To stimulate the interest of the agricultural producers in insuring the crops and animals against risks, the share subsidized by the state for the first insurance increased up to 80 per cent, and 15 million lei is provided for in the state budget. 

At the same time, Tarlev said that, regretfully, the agricultural producers have not showed proper interest in insuring the agricultural crops and the animals. The insured area did not exceed 7,000 hectares. It is also necessary to increase the area of irrigated lands up to 600,000 hectares. Only 35,000 ha are irrigated at present. 

Participating in the meeting, President Vladimir Voronin said that the increase in the price for bread should be justified economically, and not by a crisis situation, and the present situation allows the small producers, which supply with bread 14 Moldovan districts, to maintain the price for bread as well. The rest of the districts are supplied by the stock company Franzeluta, which promised to maintain the price. The president said that it is necessary to restructure Moldova's agriculture. "First of all, it is necessary to switch from the set up technological stations of machines to the specialised stations in certain fields", the president said. At the same time, the head of state drew the attention to the lands' irrigation, which save the situation in case of drought. Vladimir Voronin congratulated the district heads for their victory in the elections, and said that he is willing to cooperate, in his capacity of the president, with all the leaders "who are interested in the district's development." At the same time, the president said that the central public authorities will not allow to increase the number of local civil servants, as the present scheme of the local public administration is the best, and has proved its efficiency.

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