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Preserving Moldova's neutrality impossible without partnership with Russia — president

Moldova’s President Igor Dodon has called Tuesday's negotiations with Putin 'historic'

MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Moldova’s President Igor Dodon has said it is impossible to protect the republic’s statehood and neutrality and solve some other problems without strategic partnership with Russia.

"Preserving Moldova’s statehood and neutrality, the country’s reintegration, tackling the Transnistrian issue and preserving Orthodox Christian values - all that cannot be protected and solved without strategic partnership with Russia," he told a news conference following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Dodon also noted that Tuesday’s negotiations with Putin are historic, since they make it possible to review relations between Moscow and Chisinau and change them for the better.

The presidential election won by leader of the Party of Socialists Igor Dodon were held in Moldova in November 2016. Dodon said that he would pay his first visit as the head of state to Moscow to initiate negotiations aimed at developing an agreement on strategic partnership, friendship, economic cooperation and the Transnistrian settlement with Russia.

On association agreement with EU

Dodon said he doesn’t rule out his country’s association agreement with the European Union could be revoked after the next parliamentary elections.

"I don’t rule out that after the next parliamentary polls, the parliamentary majority’s position would be in favor of revoking this agreement. And I will support such position," he said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Dodon, the association agreement with the European Union has yielded nothing positive. "We have lost the Russian market, and, strange as might seem, our exports to the European Union have dropped too. We have gained nothing from this agreement," he said.

Moldova’s next parliamentary elections are to be held in 2018. Analysts predict that these elections will dramatically change the balance of forces in the parliament. According to latest opinion polls, more than 80% of Moldovans have no confidence in the leaders of pro-European parties as their rule saw a crisis in the country’s economy, a series of political and corruption scandals and a dramatic drop in living standards.

On migration problem

Dodon hopes Moldova and Russia will soon find a solution to the migration problem.

"The issue of migration was also discussed. We hope solutions for our citizens will be found soon," he said after a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the Moldovan leader, about 500,000 Moldovan nationals are currently working in Russia. Several dozens of thousands of Moldovans cannot enter Russia "due to various types of violations," he noted.

Earlier, Dodon said that about 800,000 Moldovan labor migrants, or about a fourth of the country’s entire population, had jobs in Russia. He said that they annually transfer "billions of dollars which help keep Moldova’s economy afloat."

According to official statistics as of October 2016, about 400,000 Moldovans, or more than half of Moldovan citizens who left the country in a hope to find jobs over the period of the country’s independence, worked in Russia.

More Moldovan enterprises will supply goods to Russia 

Dodon also said that Russian experts will visit Moldova in coming weeks to discuss the expansion of the list of enterprises supplying goods to Russia.

"Today we have discussed these details, we will seek solutions. But fundamentally we have agreed that in the coming weeks another group of Russian experts will arrive in Moldova. And directly under our supervision, I mean the presidential administration, the list of companies that supply their products to the Russian market, will be significantly expanded. It is very important," he said.

"As for commerce, at the best of times 80% of products of Moldovan agricultural sector were exported to the Russian market. After signing of the free trade zone agreement, since August 2014, we have already lost 50% of exports. We started to solve the problem at the early of 2015. We opened, for example, our enterprises in Gagauzia (autonomous territory in Moldova - TASS), they are now able to supply products to the Russian market. We began to launch other businesses on the rest of the territory of Moldova, several dozens of them," Dodon said.

"We have not found a comprehensive solution to this problem. The ideal option is to return to the regime of free trade, which was prior to the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, but the Russian party has rightly said that there is a risk of re-export," he said.