In the the first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova in the last 25 years, H.E. Tudor Ulianovschi talks openly about the various aspects of expanding India-Moldova bi-lateral relations to Senior Editor of the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist, Jeethu Elza Cherian. Excerpts...
Sir, could you please tell us about the agenda of your visit?
It is important to start by highlighting that this was the first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova in the last 25 years and thus, the agenda was intensive. Consequently, during two days we had meetings with Ministers of External Affairs, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj; of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Mr. Radha Mohan Singh; and of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Suresh Prabhu, as well as other meetings, including one with the leadership of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and members of the Moldovan Diaspora in New Delhi.
We concentrated our talks on strengthening political dialogue, by exchange of visits and delegations, improving inter-ministerial collaboration and interaction in the international framework, opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova in New Delhi next year, promotion of the cultural-humanitarian collaboration, and deepening the economic and commercial cooperation between our countries.
Following your talks with the Indian Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh, could you please give us an idea about the collaboration between India and Moldova in this sector?
Considering that Moldova is principally an agrarian country, we are very much interested in exporting our agricultural products to India. Moldova could export apples, pears, walnuts, plums, dried fruits, vegetable oils, wine, and other agricultural products. We confirmed our common agreement on applying the World Trade Organization rules and regulations in the commercial exchanges of agricultural products between our countries.
Could you please elaborate on the status of the trade between the two nations? Which sector, according to you, has the most potential for bilateral trade?
Currently the annual overall economic and commercial exchange between our countries amounts to around $26 million. Beside export-import exchanges of some agricultural products aforementioned, Moldova is exporting to India plastic goods, wool, iron, cuprum, aluminum, while India exports pharmaceutics, organic chemicals, textile, electric equipment, and cement to Moldova.
We are very interested in exporting our wines to India, Moldova being among the top 20 biggest producers and exporters of wine in the world.
What was the outcome of your meeting with the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu? Do you think Moldova and India could expand on cooperation in the field of IT (Information Technology)?
Among the most important issues of our discussion was the consolidation of the legal bilateral framework in the field of IT, as well as the Joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology and Electronics between two the ministries.
The first steps in this direction have already been made and more are to follow. A group of Moldovan businessmen, led by the Chairman of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moldova visited India to participate in a pharmaceutical event in May 2018, and an Indian multidimensional economic mission, organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry is to visit Moldova in October this year.
Sir, given that it is the public sector, which facilitates the actions of the companies, what would be your view regarding the cooperation between private sectors of the two countries – especially in the field of education? Do you foresee expandable collaboration here?
We welcome the establishment of inter-academic ties between the Moldovan State Medical and Pharmaceutical University and some Indian universities, including agreements with a few medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Concurrently, a number of professionals from Moldova are benefiting from scholarships in India, including the ones at the Indian Diplomatic Institute. Moreover, in view of the recently opened Moldovan Diplomatic Institute we will appreciate establishing inter-institutional collaboration primarily for exchange of information and taking on Indian experience and best practices.
Science and research is another dimension of cooperation, and our Academy of Science is interested in establishing partnerships between academic communities of our countries, particularly for young professionals.
Is there, in the near future, any agreement or framework for collaboration (MoUs) between the two nations?
As I have already mentioned, further development of a legal framework for bilateral cooperation in different fields was one of the main topics of our discussion. At this point, the legal basis for our cooperation includes seven bilateral documents and eight more agreements in various areas being under consideration on both sides.
During this visit, have there been any talks for establishing a resident envoy from Moldova to India; and vice-versa?
I take this opportunity to express my confidence that opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova in New Delhi next year, and subsequently the Embassy of India in Chisinau the following year. The presence and practical work of a resident envoy and of a diplomatic team will significantly strengthen bilateral relations.
Moving on to the cultural sphere, please explain what could be done to enhance the soft diplomacy between the two nations? Does tourism play a role here?
The cultural and humanitarian aspects, including tourism, are very important for consolidation of relations between the two countries and the people in many other fields. In this respect, apart from being home to the world's largest wine cellar and one of the world’s leading wine producers, Moldova is also known for its strong sense of community and rich culture with unique music, dance, food, poetry, architecture, and artisanal goods; all these in combination with wine create an authentic and unique experience for tourists from all over the world.
The Indian Diaspora in Moldova in less than 300; is there any role that they can play in promoting better relations between the two nations?
About 300 Indian citizens in Moldova, the majority of them are students of different high level educational institutions, including 267 at the Moldovan State Medical and Pharmaceutical University.
Undeniably, the presence of Indian Diaspora in Moldova is a very positive fact that opens excellent perspectives for increased interaction and cultural exchanges, not only between the young Indian and Moldovan people, but also at the level of the entire society and will significantly contribute to the advancement of cooperation and friendly relations between our states.
Moldovan wine has made a presence in India. What do you suggest could be done to expand the Indian market for your country’s wine?
India represents a major market for every country and product and we are very happy that Moldovan wines have already become known here. For the same reason, while a huge potential remains unexplored, Moldova is keen to promote and export its high quality wines at competitive prices to India.
Presently the basic prerequisites for importing Moldovan wines to India are in place and once an Indian company is interested, all necessary procedures for commencing export/import of wines could be promptly implemented. We also hope that representatives of Indian companies interested in bringing the Moldovan wine to the Indian market will join the economic mission in its visit to Moldova scheduled for October, when the Annual Wine Days are to take place (October 5-6). On the other side, we will also actively work on bringing Moldovan companies to participate in the World Food Festival held every year in India and present their wines.