454 words - September 11, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
"Just as the European Union (EU) has helped the western Balkans to win back peace and strengthen prosperity, a European perspective is helping us in our reform efforts," Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said in recent interview published in the Financial Times. "Spurred on by our desire for closer integration with the EU, Moldova is beginning to emerge from decades of missed opportunities and relative decline," Mr. Leanca added.
Moldova has undertaken reforms which have reduced its budget deficit to 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2012 and cut by half the average inflation from 11 per cent to 4.6 per cent in 2012. The recently completed negotiations on an Association Agreement with the EU will boost Moldova's attractiveness to investors, said Mr. Leanca. Like Ukraine whose President Viktor Yanukovych denounced his country's gas contract with Russia and said last week that his government's priority has become the building of closer relations with the EU, Moldova has been experiencing difficult relations with Russia.
According to Moldovan and EU officials, Russia has threatened that once Moldova initials the Association Agreement with the EU, Russia might cut off the natural gas delivered to Moldova during winter. "Any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their European aspirations and engagement with the EU is unacceptable. The countries have the right to choose themselves what is best for their future," the Foreign Ministers of the so-called Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) responded in a joint statement. Their counterpart of BENELUX countries, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, said they want to see the Moldova-EU Association Agreement and Visa Liberalization Deal concluded before the elections for the European Parliament that are planned for May 2014.
Romania and Poland have strongly backed Moldova's aspirations too. At the conference of Romania's ambassadors several days ago, Prime Minister Victor Ponta described Moldova as Romania's most important friend and neighbor. On Moldova's Independence Day (August 27), Mr. Ponta inaugurated the Iasi-Ungheni gas pipeline works which will eventually reduce Moldova's dependence on gas imports from Russia. "When you have one option, you are forced to accept the conditions dictated to you. Two options give you possibility to choose and negotiate," the Romanian leader said. Also, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski assured Moldova of Poland's support towards the signing of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement "as soon as possible in 2014,"
Lastly, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, explained that "common neighbors, Ukraine, Armenia, have to define their own path" and he added that the EU and Russia "should do more and try harder to solve the so-called 'protracted' conflicts still remaining in (their) common neighborhood, such as the Transnistria conflict in Moldova."
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