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EU Says Smuggling Less Of A Problem In Transdniester

Ferencz Banfi
CHISINAU -- The chief of an EU monitoring mission on Moldova's porous border with Ukraine says smugglers are increasingly reluctant to trade in weapons and ammunition and starting to traffic less dangerous goods including poultry, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Major General Ferencz Banfi, the head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM), told RFE/RL that the smuggling situation between the two countries has greatly improved since 2005, when EUBAM was set up by Brussels with the blessing of Moldova and Ukraine.

EUBAM's job is to keep an eye on illegal trade originating mainly in Moldova's separatist Transdniester region.

He said drug trafficking remains a problem on the Transdniestrian segment of Moldova's border with Ukraine, but that the most common goods currently being smuggled are stolen cars, cigarettes, alcohol, and food -- especially chicken.

Transdniester, which broke away from Moldova after a short war 17 years ago, is considered by Western diplomats to be a major East European hub for smuggling weapons, ammunition, and drugs.

* Due to a mistake in editing, the original version of this story erroneously suggested smuggling was "on the rise." In fact, Mr. Banfi's statement stressed the strides that have been achieved in combating the smuggling of dangerous contraband.