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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora