Tiny Moldova to get big boost from U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry departs Monday night for a trip to Belgium, Moldova, Israel and Ramallah
December 2nd, 2013
08:01 PM ET

Tiny Moldova to get big boost from U.S.

By Jill Dougherty

It’s a short stop – just four hours – on a trip that will take Secretary of State John Kerry to a NATO meeting in Belgium, to Israel and to Ramallah in the West Bank. But his visit to Chisinau, capital of Moldova, is significant.

The Eastern European nation, bordered on the east by Ukraine, stuck to its diplomatic guns late last month and, along with Georgia, signed a key economic and political agreement with the European Union.

That agreement, called the “Eastern Partnership,” is designed to forge closer E.U. ties with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

But Ukraine, the largest country among those former Soviet republics, under pressure from Russia, refused to sign, in a move that stunned both Europe and the United States.

One day after Ukraine announced its decision, the State Department said that Kerry would not attend a meeting in Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the E.U.’s human rights watchdog.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki chalked that up to “scheduling issues” but the significance was obvious; the U.S. had expressed its “disappointment” with Ukraine’s decision not to sign the agreement.

Monday, Psaki said the trip to Moldova “was in the works” before the Ukraine decision was made – and before Moldova inked the deal. But, she added, Moldova has “put a number of reforms in place, and they're working hard on their economy.  And the Secretary felt it was important to highlight that.”

Moscow’s pressure on Ukraine drew headlines but it also increased its diplomatic and economic pressure on Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a population of just 3.5 million.

Targeting the country’s major export, wine, Russia banned imports of Moldovan wine to the Russian market, citing “lack of quality controls.”

Significantly, Kerry’s itinerary, a State Department official tells CNN, includes a trade and investment event at the Cricova Winery in Moldova’s “wine city,” whose wine cellars are a popular tourist attraction.

In September, Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian Deputy Prime Minister, hinted that Russia might cut back on its deliveries of natural gas to Moldova, saying “We hope that all problems will be resolved, and Moldovan  residents will not freeze next winter.”

In November, Rogozin told reporters that Moldova might also risk losing its breakaway region, Transdniester: “It's with a flimsy piece of thread that the Moldovan locomotive is towing that car – I mean Transdniester,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. “And there's a serious probability that at such sharp turns it'll get uncoupled completely.”

Moldova’s government, however, insists it won’t deviate from its trajectory toward Europe. Since Moldova’s  independence in 1991, the United States has provided over $1.1 billion in assistance. In November, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee much of that assistance is dedicated to improving governance, combating corruption, increasing transparency and accountability, strengthening the rule of law, and other ways of improving the business environment.

“Recent Russian actions against the import of Moldova’s wine and other agricultural exports,” she said, “have a disproportionate impact on its small economy, and could potentially expand into other sectors as the country deepens its EU integration. We are exploring ways we can help including by increasing Moldova’s energy independence and promoting trade with the EU and the United States.”

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Mark

    USA needs Moldova for landing rights. Transdeniestre (AKA: Prednestrovie) is quite beautiful and looks like the Soviet Union may have looked in the 1930s. The food in Moldova & Prenestrovie is worth eating: everything is natural and until you've tasted it, you don't know what you're missing. The youth are beautiful. Many look like magazine cover material, but no opportunity ladder exists for beauty there. The people are smart, highly adaptive and most can speak at least 2 languages, some three or more. The joke there is: if you speak more 2 or more languages you are very smart and if you know only one language you must be an American.

    December 5, 2013 at 2:25 am | Reply
  2. Mark

    USA needs Moldova for landing rights.

    December 5, 2013 at 2:19 am | Reply
  3. miki

    Thank you , usa ! moldova unite with romania . It's time .

    December 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  4. Transnistrian

    Transnistria owes over 3 billion to Russia for gas. Considering that Transnistria is way smaller- u decide who supports Moldovan population more….

    December 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  5. Kdetujm Retuerty

    Hook.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
  6. Hdfghk Ffhkgh

    Where the israelies inslave the future. WHERE IS YOUR PERSONAL BACKPACK FULL OF CASH. Kill.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:22 am | Reply
    • Dr. Jack

      Firstly, please learn some English!!

      If you can't, then write in Arabic. Much easier.

      Secondly, it is about the Republic of Moldova, in Europe, not somewhere in the Middle East.

      Geography is not your forte!!

      December 3, 2013 at 2:51 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Nonsense remains nonsense in any language...

      December 3, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  7. Random

    I saw the headline, first thought was what's a moldova. hehe. Well you learn something every day. I guess if I drank wine...

    December 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  8. John McKane

    Tiny Moldova got more than a boost from the U.S. The right-wing media conveniently forgot to mention the millions, if not billions of dollars it got from our national treasury for collaborating with the right-wing thugs in Washington. The greed of those hoodlums in Washington knows no end!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • Dr. Jack

      And your evidence is????

      December 3, 2013 at 4:47 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        Evidence? What's evidence?

        December 3, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Thinker23

        The right-wing media conveniently forgot to mention the millions, if not billions of dollars... and THIS is the best evidence John McKane can offer. Just as the fact that no one have seen Martians yet PROVES their existence.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:50 am |

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