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The impressions of the US Ambassador to Moldova after a visit to Balti city for the first time

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US Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, E.S. Dereck J. Hogan visited Balti this week for the first time. His Excellency has shared his impressions in a video, which is the first in the series of video messages that Ambassador Hogan will discuss with the citizens of Moldova, the representatives of the Embassy say, realitatea.md concludes.

Ambasadorul Hogan despre vizita sa la Bălți

În această săptămână Ambasadorul Dereck Hogan a efectuat o vizită de lucru în orașul Bălți. El și-a împărtășit impresiile în acest video, care este primul din seria de mesaje video prin care Ambasadorul Hogan va discuta cu cetățenii Moldovei. #AmbassadorHogan

Geplaatst door U.S. Embassy Moldova op Vrijdag 14 december 2018

In Balti, E.S. Dereck J. Hogan was greeted with bread and salt. The Ambassador met with representatives of local public authorities and political parties. Also, the Ambassador visited the Innovation Center, a USAID project that will provide students with access to IT training.

“During one of the tours, I learned more about the free economic zone in Balti and the advantages it offers to potential investors,” Hogan said.

The Ambassador was impressed by Balti and the people he met. He admitted that he is looking forward to visiting other localities in Moldova and to talk with new people.

Diaspora

Stories from diaspora// Alexandru-Vlad Murzac: “The voice of young people is not heard enough in Moldova.”

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He is Alexandru-Vlad, an ambitious dreamer from Moldova whose motto is “Always try hard and never give up”. His double name was given to him after his father and grandfather’s name who always believed in him and had a great impact on his personality.

About his life choices

Alexandru-Vlad believes that each person has a role in the society he lives in. Despite his young age, he already provides an example to his peers. “Through my activities and projects, I try to inspire other young people to strive to a better life and always get involved in their communities.”

He got the chance to study in the best schools from the Republic of Moldova and abroad. However, he talks with modesty about his achievements. “It is not important in what school you study or what activities you conduct. Trying to be a better person is just your choice,” says Alexandru-Vlad.

Two years ago, he earned a Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) scholarship and spent one year in the United States, studying at the Merrillville High School. “Thanks to FLEX, I have expanded my knowledge about the American culture and politics.” Besides his studies, he participated in two debate tournaments and the Civic Educational Workshop, a project organised in Washington DC where the participants met with government officials.

Most people do not know what America really is, until they get there,” our protagonist mentions. According to him, everything is different in the US: the educational system, the social life, etc. Alexandru-Vlad says that he had the chance to experience his own ‘American Dream’.

After his return, his friends from Moldova asked him a lot about the American elections: “I was in the US in the year when Trump was elected.”

Nowadays, Alexandru-Vlad is doing his bachelor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. “It is a very challenging opportunity. You have to give all your time for studying but never forget about social life. Business is a new field for me. Every day, I learn something new and like it more and more.”

About his extracurricular activities

Alexandru-Vlad has been involved in many organizations. From 2014 to 2018, he took part in the Interact Chisinau project – a Rotary International service club for young people aged between 12 and 18. “Interact was the most important activity for me, since I was its president from 2016 to 2017. I was responsible for all the community service projects and tried to bring them to a next level: more impact on social media, more people involved,” he claims.

He founded together with a friend from diaspora a project called MoldX, which is an online community for Moldovan people. “I will re-start the project in April by communicating more with young people from Moldova that represent our country abroad. I hope to succeed in promoting their ideas in Moldova.”

“At the Association of Young Diplomats, our teams organized several meetings with embassies and their representatives learning about their work and opportunities of their countries,” says Alexandru-Vlad, while referring to another project he participated in.

Also, Alexandru-Vlad really likes to travel. “My next destinations are the Caucasian countries. All of them are a big inspiration for me. I am very interested in the architecture and culture of every place I visit.” He even tried to launch a blog: “Unfortunately, my ideas about my blog didn’t meet my expectations, due to a lack of experience, but there is still hope for this project to be reborn in two or three weeks. It will be about Moldova, US and Netherlands.”

About the Republic of Moldova

When asked whether he would return to Moldova, Alexandru-Vlad doesn’t have an answer yet.

“I am not sure if I’ll go back to Moldova in the next 7-10 years, but I am sure that our country needs young people in order to develop. So, if my contribution is needed, there is a big chance for me to return.”

Regardless of his uncertainty about his future plans, Alexandru-Vlad considers himself a patriot of his country. “It is hard to define what patriotism really is. For each of us it is something different. I always introduced myself as a Romanian from Moldova and tried to motivate people whom I meet to visit our country. There are a lot of notorious people that studied or lived abroad while considering themselves patriots.”

Alexandru-Vlad believes that the voice of young people is not heard enough in Moldova. He thinks that all governmental projects are organized superficially and there are few TV shows about young people where they would be invited to debates on different topics. “Many of our compatriots want to come back but they don’t see the proper opportunities. Let’s start bringing them back and stop the emigration,” he says.

Photos: Facebook| personal profile

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Politics

The activists of the political bloc ACUM organised protests in front of the Parliament

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Today, March 21st the first session of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova took place. One hour and a half before the session, the  members and activists of the political bloc ACUM organised a protest in front of the Legislative building.

The protests “for the defence of justice and democracy” were initiated after 2 activists of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP) were sentenced to jail.

The former employee of the National Post Service, Sergiu Cebotari, made an in-court testimony regarding the schemes from 2016 of trafficking anabolic steroids. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in a semi-open regime penitentiary and paying damages of 299 thousand lei, in a criminal case for embezzling foreign property and using forced labour.

The former border policeman, DTPP activist and parliamentary candidate on the national list of ACUM, Gheorghe Petic, was sentenced to three years and six months in a semi-opened regime prison and a fine of 30,000 lei in a criminal case for rape and domestic violence.

Both accused didn’t confess and claimed that the cases were politically charged.

“Such sentences represent the end of justice and democracy in the Republic of Moldova. It is a very clear message from the Plahotniuc-Dodon regime to the whole society – the games of democracy are over, anyone who opposes the oligarchic power will encounter the same situation. The use of tear gas against the supporters of the political prisoner Gheorghe Petic in front of the Orhei Court yesterday is the most powerful evidence in this matter,” the organizators of the protest said.

Yesterday, after Petic was sentenced by the Orhei Court, the police used tear gas against the supports that came to protest in front of the Court building.

A government shouldn’t fight against its citizens. Its main role is to help people, to give them hope for the future. Moldova is not a regular state. Starting from today, will continue to fight on the street and in the parliament, “said the member of the Parliament and the member of the political bloc ACUM, Dumitru Alaiba.

The Occupy Guguţă movement was present at the protest, expressing their views in a creative way. They rubbed onion on a greater, crying on cue.  In such a way, they referred to yesterday’s police officers who launched tear gas in the direction of peaceful protesters.

Source: TV8

“I have never felt more inconvenient than today, knowing that in a few minutes I will get in a captured institution,” declared Andrei Năstase, the leader of the DTPP and the member of the Parliament.

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Economy

The Moldovan fruit farmers’ paradox – anybody can produce but only few chosen can sell

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The Republic of Moldova is an agrarian country. The most important agricultural activities in Moldova – the production of walnuts, grapes and some other fruits is, though, squeezed between the political interests and the weak regulations regarding export monopolies establishment and preference of imported products on the internal market. The small Moldovan farms remain outside the big business, being marginalized, misinformed and discriminated when it comes to selling their products inside or outside the Republic of Moldova.

The official data

During a press release of the National Office of Vine and Wine in Moldova, it was communicated that the 2017-2018 season recorded the earliest grapes harvest in the last 40 years. At the same time, the grapes production was 15% higher compared to the average of the last 8 years. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the period January-June 2018, the grape exports from the Republic of Moldova increased by 32.1% compared to the same period of 2017. Moldova exported grapes to Romania – 51.9% of the total export, the Russian Federation – 35% and Belarus – 3.7%.

The National Agency for Food Safety (NAFS) announced a raise in 2018 of  the production and export of Moldovan fruits such as apples, plums, peaches, apricots and cherries.  According to the provided data, 70.6 thousand tons of apples from 2018 year’s harvest were exported, that being three times more than in the same period of 2017. A significant increase was also recorded in the export of plums – 31 thousand tons of plums have reached the foreign markets. The NAFS talked about the export of fruits to the usual for Moldova international markets, such as the Russian market, and discovering new markets such as Iraq and Bangladesh.

The European Business Association reported a quantity of 10 thousand tons of walnuts, exported by 30 companies entitled to do the exports to France Germany or Austria. There are 29,000 hectares of walnut trees in the Republic of Moldova. In 2017, the walnuts production was 18.7 thousand tons. The main countries where the Moldovan walnuts are exported are the EU countries, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia.

Behind the curtain

Several journalistic investigations performed by few independent media institutions from Moldova, such as Ziarul de Gardă and Jurnal TV, have uncovered the ties between certain family members of the former Prime Minister of Moldova – Pavel Filip, and several companies that have an important role on the walnuts and dried fruits markets. The investigations were launched after the allegations of existing a personal interest of the former Prime Minister in maintaining a monopolistic situation on the walnuts market. While checking  the reason of a dramatic decrease of walnuts selling price on the market, the journalists have found a scheme of collecting and centralizing of walnut production by few collector firms that transported them afterwards to “Monicol” SRL – a company owned by father of the Filip’s daughter-in-law. The company has a market share of about 20% and the government’s protection in their activity. The allegations were denied by Pavel Filip, but no financial information regarding the company’s activity was made public.

Svetlana Lungu, the Head of Plant Protection and Health Directorate of NAFS, explained that the process of obtaining the necessary papers for exporting walnuts is not so hard. “In the EU, the requirements are minimal. Namely, it is necessary to obtain the phytosanitary certificate for the export of products of plant origin. The registration of the exporter and the producer is required by NAFS, as well as owning or renting a storage space by the exporter and signing a contract with the producer,” declared Lungu. Therefore, as long as the process is standardized, why the Moldovan walnuts are officially exported by only 30 companies and a monopoly is established on the market unofficially? Maybe because there are some political and personal interests of ‘filtering’ the companies authorized to export.

Walnuts exporting is a profitable business in Moldova. According to TV8, one kilogram of Moldovan walnuts costs 23.94 euro on the Belgian store shelves (about 462 lei). In Moldova, one kilogram of walnuts could reach 150/200 lei on the market, but from producers it is bought for 60/80 lei per kilogram.

The situation for the grapes and fruits producers is not much better. Few weeks ago, a campaign was initiated by a grapes’ producer, Diana Crudu, that advised people not to buy flowers for the International Women’s Day, but a box of grapes or apples.

“There are over 7 thousand tons of grapes in the  Moldovan warehouses. If they are not sold in the next two or three weeks, these grapes will have to be thrown away. The wine factories do not have the capacity to process and storage such a large quantity of grapes. This is the most dramatic situation faced by table grape manufacturers in the last 15 years,” said Diana in an interview for RFE/RL.

The producers are forced to sell the grapes on the local market for 3 to 6 lei per kilogram. At the same time, consumers are offered the possibility to buy imported grapes for 80 lei per kilogram in the Moldovan supermarkets.

The Ministry of Agriculture representative, Iurie Mudrea, declared that no compensation for unsold products can be provided. “The business always involves risk. Calculate, my dear, solve the problem, think about it at the beginning of year, put some efforts. Even Russia no longer accepts low quality, we need high quality for all products. Here we have to start: big volumes, high level of quality and a lot of effort,” declared Mudrea for TV8.

The Ministry of Agriculture claimed that apples could be purchased directly from producers and distributed free of charge in schools. At the same time, the “qualitative and nicely packed” apples could be sold in the country’s retail shops, and the fruit quality monitoring infrastructure could be developed. A lot of things could be done. But will they?

The real solution came from Moldovan people. An event organized by the Klumea Association encouraged Moldovan people to become  solidary with the grapes’ producers and come on Sunday, February 24th, at a bazaar in the city centre of Chisinau to buy a box of domestic grapes, with only 5 lei per kilogram.  The initiative has a suggestive name: ‘Take Moldova home’.

Source: Facebook

Featured photo: worldpulse.com

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