Romania releases first loan tranche to crisis-hit Moldova

Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, who will visit Moldova on Thursday. [European Council]

European Union member Romania said Wednesday (24 August) it has paid the first tranche of a multi-million-euro loan to neighbouring Moldova, in a bid to prevent the ex-Soviet nation from economic collapse and help it maintain a pro-European course.

Earlier this year, the Romanian government pledged to lend Moldova 150 million euros to help it push through anti-corruption reforms after the nation was rocked by a massive scandal in 2015.

Bucharest said in a statement that a first “60-million-euro tranche of the financial loan” has now been released, after Moldovan authorities and officials from the International Monetary Fund reached a roadmap agreement on an economic reform programme in July.

The announcement comes ahead of a visit by Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos to Moldova on Thursday.

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Brussels should continue to focus on Eastern Partnership countries which help deliver results, both in terms of internal policies and geopolitics, writes Andrian Candu.

Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova is often seen in terms of a tug-of-war between Russia and the West, especially after it signed a historic EU free trade agreement two years ago despite bitter opposition from its former master Moscow.

The country has been mired in political turmoil since the disappearance of $1 billion (888 million euros) from its leading bank in 2014.

The scandal sparked mass demonstrations early last year, eventually leading to the arrest of ex-premier Vlad Filat and the dismissal of the government in October.

Faced with hostile public opinion, the new pro-EU administration of Prime Minister Pavel Filip vowed to bring greater transparency to the finance sector — a key condition to secure a deal with the IMF and unlock crucial EU aid.

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The new government has a clear road map of what it has to do, developed together with its EU partners, Andrei Galbur, Deputy Prime-Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, told in an exclusive interview.

In addition to economic reforms, the government also introduced a series of political changes.

As a result, Moldovans will be able to elect their president in October through a direct vote for the first time in 16 years.

Previously lawmakers had chosen the head of state through a parliamentary supermajority.

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