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Poll Shows Moldovans Losing Interest In EU, Warming Up To Russia

CHISINAU -- A new poll shows Moldovans are losing interest in the post-Soviet country's European integration and is warming up to the idea of joining a Commonwealth of Independent States' (CIS) free-trade zone led by Russia, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The poll -- published in Chisinau on November 16 -- showed that the number of Moldovans willing to join the European Union has dropped 15 percent since a similar poll in May, falling to 47 percent.

That is the lowest percentage of EU support measured in Moldova in nearly a decade.

Likewise, 46 percent of respondents said their country would benefit economically from joining the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union, while 34 percent favored entering the EU's free-trade zone.

More than 60 percent of Moldovans believe Russia should be their country's "main strategic partner," while just 23 percent prefer the EU.

The new opinion poll was published by the Moldova's West-leaning think tank
Institutul de Politici Publice (IPP) with financing from the Soros Foundation
and was performed in late October and early November by the CBS-AXA polling center.

Moldova is a CIS member and one of the six former Soviet republics covered by the EU's Eastern Partnership program, which promises tighter integration with the EU in exchange for economic and democratic reforms.

In an interview with RFE/RL today, IPP Director Arcadie Barbarosie said the Moldovans' new "Euroskepticism" was most likely caused by the economic downturn in the EU and by people's disenchantment with the vocally pro-European ruling coalition in Chisinau, the Alliance for European Integration.

Chisinau's pro-EU government hopes to start negotiating a free-trade agreement with Brussels before the end of the year and to obtain visa-free travel for its citizens inside the 27-member bloc as early as next year.

The poll also shows a record percentage of Moldovans (83.5 percent) saying their country is heading in the wrong direction and a status quo in support for
the country's main political parties, which have failed in parliament during
the last two years to elect a full-time president of the country.