News / Europe

Kerry Visits Western-leaning Moldova

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti (C) and Prime Minister Lurie Leanca (R) at the Official Residence in Chisinau, Moldova, Dec. 4, 2013.
Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti (C) and Prime Minister Lurie Leanca (R) at the Official Residence in Chisinau, Moldova, Dec. 4, 2013.
Reuters
John Kerry became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Moldova in more than two decades on Wednesday, part of a show of support for pro-Western moves by the former Soviet republic in the face of Russian pressure.
 
Kerry opted to make his brief stop in Moldova after it and another former Soviet republic, Georgia, initialed agreements on closer ties with the European Union last week.
 
In doing so, Kerry decided to skip a ministerial conference in Ukraine, which has rejected an accord with Brussels in favor of cultivating closer ties with Russia instead.
 
A senior State Department official briefing reporters traveling with Kerry said the purpose of the four-hour stop in Chisinau - the first by a U.S. secretary of state since a visit by James Baker in 1992 - would be to offer support and encouragement in the face of Russian threats.
 
Russia has responded to Moldova's moves towards Brussels by cutting off imports of Moldovan wine. Wine sales to Russia have been an important source of revenue for the country of about 3.5 million people, which is the poorest in Europe.
 
In announcing its ban on imports of Moldovan wines and spirits in September, Russia said they contained impurities and Moldova had consistently failed to act to improve the quality of its produce. Kremlin critics say previous Russian bans on wine from Moldova and Georgia have been politically motivated.
 
U.S. officials said Washington was working with the EU to help the Moldovan wine industry find new markets and, to emphasize this, Kerry planned to sample wines at the historic Cricova winery on the outskirts of the capital Chisinau.
 
The EU has already reduced or dropped all its tariffs on Moldovan wine in response to the Russian move.
 
The senior State Department official said Russia should see the benefits of closer ties between its neighbors and the EU.
 
“We have been very clear with the Russians that we don't see any need to see the decision of Moldova and Georgia to initial agreements with the EU as a zero-sum game, and that we think that kind of play is self-defeating,” the official said.
 
“If Russia's neighbors become richer and more prosperous as a result of having visa liberalization to the European Union and increased trade, they are more able to buy more things from Russia as well, and they are more stable on Russia's periphery.”
 
Russian sanctions against Moldova were “a matter of concern” given Moscow's membership of the World Trade Organization, the official said, but added that it would be up to the Moldovans to decide whether to raise a complaint at the world trade body.
 
While ties with former Soviet republics are not Washington's foremost foreign policy priority as they were in 1992, and U.S. officials say the United States is not trying to compete with Russia for influence in the region, Kerry is keen to show that the United States is not abandoning it to Moscow.
 
On Tuesday, he urged the Ukrainian government to “listen to the voices of its people” after President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to spurn the pact with the EU sparked mass protests.
 
Referring to Russia's efforts to lure Ukraine away from the EU, Kerry said Ukrainians should be allowed to make their own choice without “a bidding war.”

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More