by Jaber Al Harami
DOHA: Moldova, a former Soviet republic bordered by Ukraine and Romania, is considering a visa waiver for Qatari citizens visiting the country to attract more investments from here, Moldovan Prime Minister Lurie Leanca has said.
He hoped that the Russia- Ukraine conflict over Crimea would die down soon and it would not lead to separation of the Trans-Dniester region from Moldova.
“We are studying from our side the possibility of removing entry visa to Moldova for Qatari citizens to boost relations and attract investment because we need investments from the Qatari government as well as Qatari investors,” Leanca said in an interview with Al Sharq in Moldova recently. Moldova possesses about two million hectares of highly fertile arable land. When it was part of the Soviet Union, it was providing food to about 300 million people in Russia.
Qatar can invest in Moldova to produce high quality food, due to the availability of fertile lands and cheaper workforce, said Leanca. “We have attractive tourism spots but not enough investments. Qatar can invest in tourism sector in Moldova. With a strong economy and advanced banking system, Qatar can as well invest in the banking sector in Moldova.”
He appreciated Qatar for being first Arab country to open embassy in Moldova and disclosed plans to launch direct flights between Doha and the Moldovan capital Chisinau. The Moldovan embassy in Qatar is considered the first of its kind in Arab region, he said.
He said Qatar is playing a very important role in regional and international levels. “Moldova is a small country so it might not compete with other European countries. But in cooperation with Qatar we would be able to attract investments to manufacture several products for the Qatari market and re-export them to other GCC and Arab countries,” said Leanca.
Asked what is the guarantee for investors due the tension in the region after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said: “There is tension in the region but I believe it is temporary and it will be solved very soon. There are investments still coming to Moldova. Soon I will lay the foundation stone for a joint project by Germany and Austria on assembling and manufacturing car spare parts and this investment will provide 3,000 job opportunities in Moldova.”
He said the Moldovan law is based on the European Union rules to protect investment and is being amended time to time to protect the investors fully. “We have discussed removing double taxation between Qatar and Moldova and special privileges to Qatari investors,” said the Prime Minister.
On the Russian-Ukraine conflict after Crimea joining Russia, he said, “What happened in this region has caused concern, not only in the neighbouring countries but also internationally. We are more concerned because we are neighbouring to Ukraine and what Russia has done in Crimea is a violation of the international agreements and an interference in the sovereignty of a country.”
He said Moldova does not recognise the referendum in Crimea.
“We wish the tension will be over in the region. We were informed that Russia has started withdrawing its forces deployed on the border. This is the first step to bring about a solution to the conflict that has put European Union, the US, Ukraine and Moldova on one side and Russia on the other side,” he added.
“We have relations with Nato and share borders with Ukraine and Romania. We are trying hard to reduce the tension in this region.”
On the issue of Trans-Dniester region of Moldova he said: “This problem is 23 years old since the independence of Moldova, but unfortunately we could not have clear-cut strategy to solve this conflict. Everybody knows Tra Trans-Dniester is part of Moldova. Russian Foreign Minister himself had said that the issue should be solved within Moldova.”
He added that a possible solution to the issue is federal autonomy Trans-Dniester.
He said within three weeks, Moldovan citizens will be able to enter the European countries without a visa and In June Moldova will sign free trade with EU.