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Moldova Gets Government, Eyes Integration In Europe

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat
CHISINAU (Reuters) -- Moldova's parliament has approved a new Western-leaning government with a program to join the European mainstream, the last-but-one step to ending months of political stalemate in Europe's poorest nation.

Prime Minister Vlad Filat, putting his government to parliament, said priorities would include renewed talks with Russia and other powers to settle the issue of breakaway Transdniester and securing the withdrawal of Russian troops there.

Though he set European integration as one of the five priorities of his government, Filat said his country would maintain neutrality in foreign policy.

But it would continue to press the European Union for an agreement on associated membership, he said. "We have set as a task broadening Moldova's circle of friends in the EU in order to enlist their support in solving our problems," he said.

"We believe that we are building a democratic Moldova of free people who have a future ahead of them," he said.

Eight years of communist rule in the former Soviet republic ended this month when President Vladimir Voronin stood down after losing a parliamentary election in July to pro-European parties, potentially moving the country away from Russia.

The 53 parliament seats held by the pro-Western coalition was enough on September 25 for Filat's 19-member government to be approved in office.

But this majority will not be enough for it to elect a president, the final part in Moldova's political jigsaw.

Analysts expect the coalition to present communist defector Marian Lupu as president in an election sometime next month.

But this would require the support of at least 61 parliamentary deputies and the pro-Europe coalition may have to rely on doing a deal with members of the communist opposition to get its candidate in power.