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Moldova: Popov Says CEI Admission Significant

Graz, Austria; 11 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Moldova's Foreign Minister, Mihai Popov, says his country's acceptance into the Central European Initiative (CEI) marks another step in the former Soviet Republic's gradual integration into European political and economic structures.

Popov made the remark in an interview with RFE/RL's correspondent in Graz, Austria, on the sidelines of the CEI's annual summit. With the acceptance, formally announced Saturday, Moldova becomes the regional cooperation organization's 16th member.

Popov says his country's entry means Moldova is now accepted as a full "central European" state.

Popov told our correspondent Moldova will be a reliable partner in the CEI. He says Moldova will continue to assist in finding regional solutions to problems characteristic to transitional economies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Popov also says he has had several fruitful bilateral discussions during his two days in Graz, particularly with the Ukrainian and Romanian delegations. He says those discussions focused on ways to improve political, economic and cultural relations.

Popov declined to comment on the country's upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for November 17. But he told RFE/RL that the primary issue facing the resulting government would be the resolution of the problem in breakaway Transdnistria.