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Moldova Hails U.S. Initiative To Lift Soviet-Era Trade Restrictions

Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca (file photo)

Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca (file photo)

CHISINAU -- Moldova's foreign minister has welcomed the introduction of legislation to the U.S. Congress that would lift Soviet-era barriers on trade with Chisinau, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, authored the bill, which was introduced on February 8 and would repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment restrictions on Chisinau.

Speaking today to RFE/RL in Chisinau, Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca said Lugar's initiative illustrated "the success of the reforms" implemented by Moldova's pro-Western government, which came to power in 2009 after almost a decade of communist rule.

First enacted in 1975, the Jackson-Vanik amendment was considered a critical tool in U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union.

Designed to pressure Moscow on its refusal to allow Jews and other minorities to leave and move abroad, the amendment prohibited normal trade relations with countries that had nonmarket economies and restricted emigration.

Moldova is currently run by an alliance of largely pro-European parties that defeated the more pro-Russian Communist Party in two successive elections, in 2009 and 2010.

The Communists, however, remain the biggest single political force in the country and have so far successfully prevented the new government from electing a new head of state in the parliament, raising the risk of a prolonged political crisis.