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Gagauzia to be the first Moldovan region to restart agricultural exports to Russia

June 01, 2015, 18:33 UTC+3 CHISINAU
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CHISINAU, June 1. /TASS/. Moldova’s Gagauzia autonomy will be the first region to restart agricultural exports to Russia after restrictions imposed last year in the wake of Chisinau’s signing an agreement to create a free trade zone with the EU, a Russian veterinary standards official told reporters in Chisinau on Monday.

"Moldova has possibilities to resume exports of its products to Russia and expand it. We have very good impression of what we have seen in Gagauzia," said Alexey Alexeyenko, assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor Federal Service for Veterinary Safety Surveillance.

"Chisinau insists that demands for compliance of Moldovan products with rules of the Eurasian Economic Union be excluded from bilateral documents," he said. "This is an unlawful demand, as EEU is a supra-national organization and we have to comply with its rules as countries of the European Union do," said Alexeyev, who visited the republic at the head of a Rosselkhoznadzor delegation.

He said apparently it was difficult for the Moldovan leadership to recognize the existence of the EEU (bringing together Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan), although it was a colossal sales market for the republic.

Russian Ambassador to Moldova Farit Mukhametshin thinks Kiev has assumed a passive stance on the renewal of agricultural exports to Russia.

"Not all is clear to us. The Russian side clearly states its readiness to lift restrictions, but we have felt today that Moldova is not yet ready, although the harvesting is already starting in the country," he said.

Export rules for Moldova were tightened last year, after Chisinau signed an agreement to create a zone of free trade with the European Union. Mass protests of farmers, losing the Russian market, began across the republic. They demanded from the authorities to revise the agreement with the EU and compensate for the loss of the Russian market.

Gagauzia received the status of an autonomous region in 1994 following the Moldovan parliament’s decision. This allowed resolving the Gagauz problem in a peaceful way. The problem emerged in late 1980s when the Gagauz citizens proclaimed independence. Chisinau said the move was illegal and in November 1990 armed volunteers led by Prime Minister Mircea Druc were sent there to suppress the independence supporters. The bloodshed was prevented by the Interior Ministry’s forces deployed there by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In February 2014, Gagauzia held a referendum, where 98% of voters spoke in favour of integration into the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia. Chisinau declared the Gagauz referendum illegitimate and opened criminal cases against its organizers.

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