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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs