Moldova’s hopes that Russia will lift trade ban are dashed


CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A top Russian official discussed lifting Russian trade sanctions on the former Soviet republic with Moldovan officials on Tuesday, but no immediate agreement was reached.

Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin met Moldova’s Economy Minister Octavian Calmic for talks focused on resuming trade. Russia placed a ban on Moldovan wine, fruit and vegetables after Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union in July 2014.

Calmic said the two sides established what needed to be done to “elaborate the strategy for commercial trade,” which fell short of Moldova’s desire to get the trade sanctions lifted. Calmic said the two discussed energy issues and the trade embargo. Moldova relies on Russian gas.

Before the 2014 embargo, 90 percent of Moldovan apple exports went to Russia. Since then, Moldova, a mainly agricultural country, has exported its apples to Egypt, Jordan, Belarus and Romania.

Moldova and Russia have been at odds over the pro-Russian region of Trans-Dniester, which broke away from Moldova in 1990. Some 1,500 Russian peacekeepers and troops are stationed there. Rogozin headed to Trans-Dniester on Tuesday evening and will return Wednesday to Chisinau for more talks.

Signaling ongoing tensions with Russia, students protested at the airport before Rogozin’s arrival, holding a banner saying: “Out with the Russian Army!”

In May 2014, Rogozin was stopped at the airport in Moldova’s capital as he attempted to bring back a petition with signatories from Trans-Dniester calling for Moscow to recognize the region.

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Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.

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