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Russian ban lifted on Moldovan wine

Moldovan winemakers may raise a glass to their President, Vladimir Voronin, as Russia has indicated that it will lift its ban on Moldovan wine.

President Voronin has held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow to persuade him to abandon the embargo that has been in force since March last year.

Wine is one of the main exports of the former Soviet republic, and traditionally 80% of the exports have been to Russia. But its imports have been prohibited after the Russian sanitary control watchdog found heavy metals and pesticides in their production. Then about 200 million bottles of Moldovan wine, exempt from the sale were crushed by bulldozers.

Moldova responded by threatening to block Russia's planned entry to the World Trade Organization.

And during today’s meeting it was said Moldovan wine imports to Russia will be renewed.

“First mutual steps were made towards unblocking co-operation in several directions, particularly in agriculture. It concerns crop and meat production. As you probably know the Russian government has made necessary directives on the shipments of Moldovan wine to the Russian market,” stated Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s leader said he was content with how relations between Russia and Moldova are developing.

“The latest figures show that on the whole our relations, especially in the economic sphere, are going well, even very well. From 2005 the trade turnover increased by almost 100% and is now close to $US 1 BLN,” the Russian president said.

However, some issues between the two countries still remain unsolved. One of them is the situation in the Moldovan breakaway republic of Transdniester. It declared independence from Moldova in 1990 – a move that has never been internationally recognised.

The region is predominantly Russian-speaking, and Russia's peacekeepers have been stationed there since 1992 after the end of a brief war between Transdniester and Moldova.

Relations between Russia and Moldova reached a low ebb in 2003, when President Voronin pulled out of a Russian brokered settlement which would have given Transdniester almost full independence. But this issue too is likely to be resolved, sooner or later.

“Over the past year we have managed to overcome most of the problems facing out two nations. I agree that dialogue should continue to resolve other political issues, such as Transdniester, and that we should set our goals on our future co-operation,” the Moldovan president said.

With both sides determined to find a solution to the Transdniester issue, hopes are rising there will soon be one less frozen conflict on the global map.