Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Russia bans Moldova wine ahead of EU summit

  • Russia says wines from Moldova do not meet its standards. (Photo: Ben Roffer)

Russia has imposed an import ban on Moldovan wines and spirits citing health concerns, but critics say it is designed to stop the ex-Soviet republic’s EU aspirations.

The import ban, announced on Tuesday (10 September), starts Wednesday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Russia's public health chief Gennady Onishchenko said Moldova had been informed on numerous occasions to improve the quality of its products but never did.

"The ban is a necessary step that we have undertaken reluctantly, but it is the only possible way of solving the present situation," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

A high-ranking Moldovan official, who asked not to be named, told this website that Russia has a history of imposing bans to exercise political pressure on Moldova’s “sovereign choices.”

He noted that the Moldovan wines blacklisted by Russia meet EU standards.

“We don’t only export to the Russian federation but also to the European market because we have compliance,” he said.

He said the ban, imposed on the most popular Moldovan brands, comes as a surprise.

“The Patriarch of the Russian church was here and immediately the next day he leaves, we hear about the embargoes, and that is after the minister of agriculture was in Moscow and discussed about the conditions of exports and when he came back he was sure an embargo would not be imposed,” the Moldovan official said.

He added that the government is hoping the EU will help exercise political pressure on the Russian Federation to scrap the embargo.

The EU is hoping to conclude pacts with a handful of former Soviet republics at its "Eastern Partnership" summit in Vilnius in November.

But Russia, for its part, has launched a rival Customs Union, with an aim of regrouping some the same countries into its own free trade circle.

The Customs Union currently includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

But Moscow wants Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to also join and to transform the structure into a political bloc, the Eurasian Union, in 2015.

In a surprise move, Armenia backed out the EU plans earlier this month and announced it would join the Customs Union. Georgia’s Prime Minister has also expressed interest in the Kremlin’s offer.

Ukraine has said it will not submit to pressure from Moscow to scrap an EU trade agreement to be signed in Vilnius.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine it will take "protective measures" if it signs the EU pact.

In August, it already stopped Ukrainian products from crossing its border for around a week, causing alarm.

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda