U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar today introduced legislation, which would repeal the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions on Moldovan products and provide impetus for closer U.S. strategic engagement with Moldova.
“Moldova has been in compliance with Jackson-Vanik-related concerns for some time now, and repeal of this legislation will provide an important impetus for improving trade relations between the United States and Moldova and advancing Moldova’s Western ambitions,” Lugar said.
Lugar also released a reporttoday offering the broader strategic rationale for graduating Moldova from Jackson-Vanik and strengthening U.S. economic and political engagement with Moldova.
Entitled “Will Russia End Eastern Europe’s Last Frozen Conflict?” the report urges a renewal of efforts to broker a settlement over Moldova’s conflict region of Transnistria, a disputed territory that is controlled by Russian-supported separatists. The unresolved status of Transnistria, where nearly 1,200 Russian troops continue to serve ostensibly as peacekeepers, continues to hamper the aspirations of the reform-minded, Western-oriented Alliance for European Integration, which was swept to power in 2009 after the “Twitter revolution.”
In the report, Lugar calls on the United States to build on the recent efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in challenging the Russian Federation to cooperate constructively in resolving the status of Transnistria. In his letter of transmittal, Lugar states: “A resolute U.S. commitment to this cause will ensure that we do not cede influence in a region of paramount importance to U.S. foreign policy.”
Lugar argues that a brokered solution to the conflict would strengthen boundary controls that have enabled illicit trade, which threatens U.S. and allied interests, including illegal trafficking of proliferation-sensitive conventional and nuclear components. The report highlights, in particular, the 2010 seizure of $11 million worth of uranium-238, which could be used in a dirty bomb or nuclear weapon program, from a criminal ring with reported ties to the breakaway enclave.
The report notes that Jackson-Vanik continues to serve as an impediment to closer U.S. engagement in Moldova. “In the United States Congress, we have an opportunity to provide important support for Moldova’s Western ambitions by graduating Moldova from Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions,” Lugar concluded.
The full report is available at:http://lugar.senate.gov/issues/foreign/Moldova/index.html.