CHISINAU -- The European Union will lend Moldova 75 million euros ($102 million) to help it modernize its winemaking facilities, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Moldovan Deputy Agriculture Minister Vasile Bumacov told RFE/RL today that the loan would come from the European Investment Bank, the EU's long-term lending agency.
Wine and wine-based spirits are Moldova's main exports. The EU recently decided to almost double Moldova's annual quota of wine exports to the bloc of some 500 million people.
Bumacov called the EU loan "a very friendly gesture to Moldova," especially since the 27-member EU has problems absorbing its own wine production from major producers like France, Italy, and Spain.
He said his country's winemakers must now live up to the trust placed in them by the EU and increase the quality of their wines.
The Russian government recently accused Moldova of selling "bad wine" on the Russian market, which is still the main export country for Moldovan wine.
After Russia placed a two-year embargo on Moldovan wines in 2006, some winemakers reoriented their exports toward the EU, taking advantage of the Western bloc's interest in forging political and trade ties with its eastern neighbors.