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Moldova Defends Taking Foreign Leaders To Wine Cellars

One of Moldova's extensive wine cellars
One of Moldova's extensive wine cellars
CHISINAU -- Moldova's new government has refuted media reports that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit held in Chisinau last week was successful because of visits to the country's famous wine cellars, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The Moldovan Foreign Ministry issued a press release on October 14 that lashed out at television reports claiming the success of the CIS summit held on October 8-9 "was in direct proportion to the amount of wine imbibed by the [foreign leaders] in the Cricova cellars."

It was unclear which television station had made such claims. But in the past Moldova, a proud wine-making country, has regularly taken foreign dignitaries on tours of its famous wine-cellars. The largest of these cellars run for several kilometers underground and are shaped as small "cities" with paths named after different kinds of wines and liquors.

The new Moldovan government has promised transparency and austerity in running the country after almost a decade of Communist Party rule.

The CIS groups Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Several CIS member presidents did not attend the summit.