Moldova: Hostage in a geopolitical game

 MOLDOVA is one of Europe’s poorest countries. It has some 3.6m people, excluding the 400,000 who live in the de facto Russian-controlled, breakaway region of Transnistria. Of its workforce of 1.4m people half work abroad, according to Valeriu Lazar, the minister of economy. They used to go to southern Europe, but with less work in the ailing southern economies of the European Union many have gone to the building sites for the Olympic Games in Sochi in Russia. Their remittances account for at least a quarter of GDP.Moldova is now trying to become a place where expatriates would like to return. On November 29th at a summit meeting in Vilnius between the EU and six former Soviet republics, it will sign two major agreements that cover political cooperation, reforms and free trade. The European Commission is also set to propose visa-free travel for Moldovans to the EU’s Schengen zone. All this represents a big opportunity for Moldova. Russia is doing everything it can to sabotage it.Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, wants Moldova to join the customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the core of the Moscow-dominated Eurasian economic union he is planning. In September Russia banned the import of Moldovan wine, one of Moldova’s major exports. Dimitry Rogozin, a Kremlin envoy, has made threats about cutting off gas to a country that is 100% reliant on supplies …

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