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Moldovan Parliament Overrides Veto, Approves Transfer Of Land For New U.S. Embassy

U.S. Ambassador to Moldova James Pettit had been looking for a site for a new embassy for "almost 10 years." (file photo)
U.S. Ambassador to Moldova James Pettit had been looking for a site for a new embassy for "almost 10 years." (file photo)

Moldova's parliament has overridden a veto by President Igor Dodon, passing legislation that will transfer the site of a former stadium in Chisinau to the United States for its new embassy.

In the October 4 vote, 55 of the legislature's 101 members approved the transfer of the land surrounding the former Republic Stadium.

Dodon, who is seen as a pro-Russian leader, had vetoed the move, questioning why the United States needed such a large facility while Russia had only a fraction of the land for its embassy.

By law, Dodon must now sign the bill. If he fails to do so, deputies or the government could request the Constitutional Court to temporarily suspend the president's powers, allowing the prime minister or speaker of the parliament to sign the bill on his behalf.

"The parliament is not entitled to sell this plot of land because the Chisinau mayor's office possesses it," Maxim Lebedinschi, an aide to Dodon, told parliament before the vote.

The bill does not specify what funds will be used to demolish the former stadium or what will be done with the tennis courts, a restaurant, and other facilities located at the site. Media reports have said that the United States would pay between $15 million and $20 million to acquire the land.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that the restaurant is owned by a deputy of the Party of Socialists faction, which supports Dodon and opposed the transfer.

U.S. officials in December 2017 expressed their intention to build the site on Tigina Street.

"We have been looking for a plot for the construction of a new embassy for almost 10 years. In the Republic of Moldova, in Chisinau, we have been there for more than 25 years, it’s time to reflect our good relations with Moldova and build a new embassy," U.S. Ambassador James Pettit said in July.

The 25,000-seat stadium, which was built in 1951, was demolished in 2007 and the site has been in disrepair for years.

In September, the Constitutional Court suspended Dodon's authority amid a standoff with his opponents in Chisinau's pro-Western government over ministerial appointments.

That action came after Dodon failed to approve candidates put forward by Prime Minister Pavel Filip. With Dodon suspended, the parliament speaker was able to sign the decrees appointing two of the ministers.

With reporting by Interfax, Eurasian Times, and Accent TV

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