On October 10th, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Moldovan President Igor Dodon while staying at his residence, Bocharov Ruchey, in Sochi. This was the sixth meeting of the presidents this year. The first was held in January, previous to that, the heads of the two countries had not met for nine years.
At the beginning of the talks, Putin noted that he highly appreciates Dodon's efforts to normalize Russian-Moldovan relations, although "the process is not going smoothly," as RBC news agency reported.
The Moldovan President responded that during the ten months that had passed since the first meeting with Putin, "there have been positive developments, as well as some problems." According to the guest, exports from Moldova to Russia have increased by almost 17% in six months. In particular, the volume of table grape exports increased 19-fold and apples by three-fold. Several tens of thousands of Moldovan citizens were given the opportunity to resolve their registration problems and continue working in Russia, Dodon said. According to the press service of the Kremlin, in the first six months of this year, trade between the countries amounted to $604 million and a total of $1.16 billion in 2016.
"You mentioned the liberalization associated with migrant labor, and the opening of markets for some sensitive products. I must say frankly that this was done not in advance, but in order to support your efforts," Putin said. "We hope very much that people will see this and appreciate it."
Earlier this year, Moscow abolished the ban on entry for several categories of Moldovan citizens, and those who already were in Russia were given the opportunity to "become legal."
Dodon said that the efforts to normalize relations will continue, although they meet opposition both within and outside of the country.
Speaking about the problems in Transdniestria, Dodon noted that it would be possible to find a political solution to the crisis only after the 2018 parliamentary election. The Moldovan President is confident that a "pro-Moldovan parliament" will be formed during the upcoming elections. Now, a majority of the Moldovan parliament supports European integration and the Socialist Party of Dodon is in the minority. The government has repeatedly criticized the President for his rapprochement with Russia, and the parliament adopted a declaration demanding that Russia withdraw its military from the territory of Moldova.