Government cancels Moldtelecom sale

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The Moldavian government has cancelled the sale of national incumbent Moldtelecom, deeming the only bid for the 51 percent stake, from MGTS Moscow's main telephone company, to be too low. The tender was originally due to be completed by September 20, but has been repeatedly pushed back the state committee, which asserted that it needed more time to study the MGTS bid. MGTS reportedly tabled an offer in the region of 20 million Euro for Moldtelcom with a pledge to invest to a further 10 million E...


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Parliament adopts budget with deficit of 0.8%

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Moldova's parliament has adopted in its third and final reading a 2003 state budget with a surplus of 210 million lei or 0.8 percent of GDP. Budget revenues are 3.99 billion lei and spending 4.2 billion lei. Foreign debt will take up 31 percent of all spending. The government intends to issue binds and borrow USD 10 million abroad (the third tranche of a World Bank SAC-3 credit) to cover the budget deficit. GDP is projected to rise six percent from this year's anticipated figure in 2003 to 25.2 ...


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Economy credits supply drops by 125 million lei

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The domestic commercial banks offered in October credits in the amount of 589 million lei (USD 42.3 million), by 125 million lei less, compared with September. The supply of credits in Moldavian lei dropped by 43.2 million lei, down to 352.2 million lei, and credits in foreign currency dropped by 81 million lei, down to 236.8 million lei (USD 17.4 million). The reduction of credits in national currency was caused by the decrease by 48.9 million lei (12.7 percent) in the supply of loans offered t...


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13% jump in processing industry on the cards

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The Moldavian Agriculture and Food Ministry forecasts a 12.7 percent increase in the processing industry for 2003 compared with 2002, and 33.6 percent compared with 2001, BASA reported. The food enterprises expect a total production worth 3.5 billion lei in current prices, or 3.7 billion lei on average prices of last year. According to forecasts, the sugar production will increase by 11,000 tonnes, vegetal oil by 23,000 tns, canned fruit and vegetables by 7,000 tns, confectionery products by 1,8...


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Fitch predicts reduction in state debt to 35% of GDP

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International Rating Agency Fitch forecasts that Ukraine's public debt will decline to 35 percent of GDP, down from 61 percent at the end of 1999, and well below the median for B-rated sovereigns of 74 percent, the agency reported in a press release. Ukraine on November 22 placed USD 260 million in Eurobonds with yield of 10.843 percent (it had planned to place USD 350 million in bonds with yield of 11 percent and maturing in 2007). On November 21 Fitch assigned a rating of B to the bonds. The r...


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Parliament refuses to fire national bank chairman

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The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada on November 28 refused to dismiss Volodymyr Stelmakh from the office of chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. This idea was supported by 214 parliamentarians, while in order for the proposal to be passed, it should have gained at least 226 votes. Another 67 members of parliament voted against the proposal, five abstained, and 56 did not vote. At the parliament session, Stelmakh said he did not submit his resignation. "I did not offer my resignation, because nobod...


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…Europe should hold its doors open for Ukraine

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Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said the main issue facing the country is its future ties with the EU. "First and foremost, the European public has to determine Ukraine's place and role in an open Europe. This is a key issue. The country cannot live amid uncertainty," Kuchma told the Ukraine-Italy business forum in Rome on November 27. The president noted that today, almost all European countries either already are EU members or candidates for membership. "Doors should not be closed to Ukraine...


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Putin, Kuchma to meet in Moscow this month

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Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in Moscow on December 9, Kuchma's press secretary Olyona Hromnytska said. The two presidents confirmed their plans in a telephone conversation on November 25, she said. They also discussed bilateral ties. The press secretary noted that among other issues, the upcoming meeting would sum up the results of the Year of Ukraine in Russia....


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Ukraine to sell controlling shares in Ukrnafta

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Ukraine is to sell controlling shares in the oil production company Ukrnafta, Naftohaz Ukrainy CEO Yuri Boiko told journalists on November 26. Naftohaz Ukrainy owns 50 percent plus one share in Ukrnafta. Interfax quoted him as saying that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma initiated the sale and ordered that the corresponding draft resolution be prepared and initialled by Naftohaz Ukrainy and the Ukrainian Property Fund. This resolution is currently with the Property Fund.
The news agency quoted...


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EBRD lends USD 8 mln to Kvazar-Micro Corp

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will lend USD eight million to Kvazar-Micro Corporation, Ukraine's largest manufacturer of personal computers, enabling it to put into operation a new PC assembly plant, with an annual capacity of 200,000 units.
The loan agreement was signed in London on November 18, the EBRD reported in a press release. "We hope this will encourage foreign and local banks to provide long-term working capital and capital expenditure financing to strong Ukrain...


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McDonald’s to open 16 more fast-food restaurants

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McDonald's Ukraine, Ukraine's leading chain of fast-food restaurants, plans to open 16 more restaurants in Ukraine, the company's Deputy Director General Srdzhan Krumpak said. Four restaurants will be opened in 2003, including three in Kiev, and five will open in 2004. The plan for 2005 includes opening seven restaurants, but this plan might be adjusted, Interfax quoted Krumpak as saying.
McDonald's currently runs 51 restaurants in 16 Ukrainian cities, he said. The company plans to open one mor...


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Verhovna Rada ratifies agreement on loan to complete nuclear stations

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The Verhovna Rada, or Ukraine's parliament, ratified on November 22 an agreement between its government and that of Russia on the latter extending a governmental credit to finance the completion of the Rovno and Khmelnik nuclear power plants in Ukraine, Interfax reported.
Under the agreement, the Russian government will provide a loan of USD 44 million to pay for 2002-2004 delivers of equipment and goods produced in Russia. Russian organisations will provide work and services for finishing the ...


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Ukraine begins steel trade negotiations with EU

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A Ukrainian delegation last Wednesday began talks in Brussels with the European Commission in a bid to get quotas for steel exports to EU countries relaxed, an official at the Ukrainian Ministry of Economics and European Integration said. Vladimir Stetsenko, deputy state secretary of the Ukrainian Ministry of Economics and European Integration, heads the Ukrainian delegation. Ukraine and the EU last year initialled an agreement on trade in certain steel products for the period 2002-2004. Under t...


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Kosmotras to launch US lunar satellites

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The US company TransOrbital signed an agreement in Moscow last Tuesday with the Russian-Ukrainian Kosmotras company on using Dnepr launching vehicles for US spacecraft on missions to the Moon before 2005. The company intends to become the first to fly commercial missions to the Moon, Interfax quoted TransOrbital President George Dennis Laurie told a news conference in Moscow as saying. Whoever wishes to send messages, visiting cards, jewellery or the ashes of relatives to the Moon may become the...


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Kuchma says new government will be mostly reform-oriented…

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Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine's new government would be "the most reform-minded of those throughout the past years." Speaking at the Ukraine-Italy business forum in Rome last Wednesday, Kuchma stressed that that today, Ukraine "has a sustainable political system based on counter-balances between parliament and the government, the coalition and the majority, which has formed its government, which are in place." Kuchma said that "one should not require a young state to practice th...


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…appoints key ministers

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Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree appointing the first deputy prime minister and the deputy prime ministers of the new coalition government. Mykola Azarov has been appointed first deputy prime minister and finance minister, Vitaly Haiduk deputy prime minister for the fuel and energy sector, Dmytro Tabachnyk deputy prime minister for humanitarian issues, and Ivan Kyrylenko deputy prime minister for agriculture....


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Parliament pushes for taxation laws to boost social policy

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Guennady Vasylyev, first deputy chairman of the Supreme Rada, talks to New Europe

Ukraine's new government should assess the budget that has been voted by the former government, the first deputy chairman of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine said. The parliament passed in its first and second reading the draft budget for next year "and the exchange of opinions between the parliament and the government is needed before it is sent for the third time to parliament," Guennady Vasylyev said.

By Kostis...


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Lithuania keen in further transit across region

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Lithuania is interested in the transit of Russian citizens across its territory, Interfax quoted Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis as saying. "Border transit and cooperation must continue. It complies with the interests of Lithuania, whose economic entities have about 500 enterprises on the territory of the Kaliningrad region. I hope that possibilities to travel, trade, set up joint ventures and cooperate with the minimum limits also meet the interests of Russia," Valionis said. "We w...


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Fortum, Gazprom search new partners for Baltic pipeline

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North-Trans Gas, the joint venture of Finnish energy company Fortum and Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, is searching for new partners in Western Europe in order to realise the planned gas pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany. North-Trans Gas head Mikko Tulenheimo was quoted as saying negotiations have progressed furthest with Dutch company Gasunie. However, even if Gasunie buys into the project, more partners are still needed as the construction costs of the pipeline are so high. E...


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Russia expects Baltic states to join CFE treaty

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Russia's only concerns about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joining NATO is that these countries have not signed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told a briefing after a cabinet meeting. "In the future, these countries must join that treaty to some extent. This will promote stability of all flank restrictions in Europe, especially in the north and north-east of the continent," he said....


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Visa deal softens effects of visa regime with Belarus

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An interim visa agreement between Belarus and Lithuania is expected to minimise the painful effect of the introduction of visas, Lithuanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Darius Jurgilevicius said on November 26 after the agreement was signed. He added that the minimisation of consequences of introducing visas is the main result of the signed agreement....


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Government to dismantle Ignalina nuclear power plant

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Lithuania's government has decided to stop operations at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and immediately dismantle it. This decision was made at a cabinet session on November 20, the Lithuanian government's press service said.
This means that the dismantling of the plant will begin immediately after it has completely stopped operating and will end in the thorough cleaning efforts on the land on which the plant's facilities were located in order to remove any radioactive waste," Interfax quote...


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Adamkus: Lithuania to continue good relations with Russia

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Lithuania's foreign policy is aimed at the promotion of good-neighbour relations with Russia and the reinforcement of regional security, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said at a press conference after US President George W Bush's visit to Vilnius. Lithuania is to become a full-fledged NATO member in the early spring of 2004.
Interfax quoted Adamkus as saying he and Bush discussed Russia's attitude towards the enlargement of NATO and further good-neighbour relations between Russia and the B...


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Regulators seeking lower mobile interconnection charges

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The Estonian Communications Board is planning steps to make mobile communications firms lower interconnection fees which are presently several times higher than those of fixed-line operators, BNS quoted leaders of the regulator as saying on November 25. The head of market regulation department at the Communications Board, Tarmo Osman, has told reporters the Communications Board has pondered declaring mobile companies as operators with significant market power (SMP) on the interconnection market,...


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Tallinn hosts 6th festival Black nights

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On November 23, Estonian capital Tallinn saw the launching of the sixth cinema festival Black nights, which will show 335 movies from 51 countries. The forum programme coordinator Tiina Lokk said the festival started with a series of films for children and youth, including 100 films and 78 cartoons. The main program of the festival, to begin November 29, comprises 117 movies - feature and documentary films shot in the recent two years. One hundred and seventy-three films by East European cinemat...


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Estonia to support a US attack on Iraq in principle

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The National Defence Council decided on November 25 that Estonia would offer the United States moral support in the event of a military action against Iraq, RFE/RL reported. Prime Minister Siim Kallas said Estonia would allow the use of Estonian airspace for such an operation, if necessary, although he expressed doubt that such a request would be made. He described as unrealistic the idea that Estonia could contribute something militarily in the event of an attack on Iraq. "We do not have availa...


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Canada to reopen its ports to Estonian fishermen

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In talks in London on November 21-22, Ain Soome, head of the Estonian Environment Ministry's fishery department, and representatives of the Canadian Fishing Administration reached an agreement under which Canada will again open its ports to Estonian fishing boats, RFE/RL reported. Canada on April 9 closed its ports to fishing boats from Estonia because of what it called "clear evidence of violations" of shrimp-fishing quotas off its east coast. Estonia countered that the Canadian estimates were ...


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Nemtsov approves of NATO entry

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Leader of the Russian Union of Rightist Forces and Duma Deputy Boris Nemtsov congratulated Estonia on its invitation to join NATO and said relations between Russia and Estonia might improve with the NATO invitation because both sides might be free of their complexes. Nemtsov also praised Estonia's economic reforms....


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Russian oil tactics towards Latvia harmful to both

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Russia's plan to take control of Latvia's oil port of Ventspils by withholding crude shipments appears to be hurting its own exports in the near term. Shipments through the underused outlet are down 42 percent. As Russia pressures Latvia to gain control of a key oil facility, reports suggest that the tactics are harming the interests of both countries.
Over the past six months, the Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft has slashed oil supplies to the Latvian port of Ventspils in a strategy aimed ...


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Kalniete against ratifying national minorities convention

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Latvian Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete said that there is no need for the former Soviet republic to ratify a convention on national minorities since the current legislation already guarantees the rights and development of minorities. In Latvia, the development of minorities is guaranteed by the 1991 law on the rights of national and ethnic minorities to unimpeded progress and by the 1998 law on education, Interfax quoted him as telling a press conference on November 25.
The minister recalled ...


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Latvian government accepts amendments to energy bill

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The Latvian government accepted amendments to the energy law, envisaging to launch liberalisation of gas market to provide a possibility for consumers to choose alternative natural gas suppliers. The Economics Ministry told the large gas consumers would be able to use services of another gas supplier whose tariffs will not be regulated by the regulator, the Public Services Regulatory Commission. "Amendments to the law should in no way be related to tariff growth," Economics Ministry spokesman Ka...


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Tele2 network available to 92.5% of residents

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Latvia's Tele2 mobile operator has expanded its network coverage by 13.6 percent over the previous year, with the operator's services today available in 83 percent of Latvia's territory, BNS quoted the company as saying. The network expansion makes Tele2 communications available to 92.5 percent of Latvia's population. This year Tele2 has improved or introduced its network in numerous places across Latvia, including Dunalka, Ilukste, Valdemarpils, Jurkalne, Piltene, Staicele, Dundaga, Allazi, Pav...


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Flanco considers plan to merge with foreign firms

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Flanco, a Romanian home appliance retailer, announced it is mulling a plan to join forces with a foreign company, like German Media Markt or British King Fisher. "It's been on our agenda for quite some time now, as the two investment funds - Oresa and Danube Fund - have to prepare their exit," Flanco International board President Florin Andronescu was quoted as saying by BBW. "We are considering joining a major retail chain in the next few years, and we have already established contacts with UK-...


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Dutch companies eyeing project to expand Constanta Harbour

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CPH Foreign Projects and Boskalis International, two companies based in The Netherlands, have expressed an interest in taking part in a project to expand the Constanta Harbour (northern Romania). The project is worth USD 70 million. According to BBW, the feasibility study will be finalised by IPTANA and Royal Haskoning in mid-December....


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Eurogate Group shows interest in Constanta container terminal

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Eurogate Group, represented by an Italian delegation, announced it is willing to take part in a tender for the operator of the new Constanta container terminal. Headed by La Spezia Container Terminal Director Marco Simonetti, the Eurogate Group visited the Maritime Port Administration to examine the project's potential, according to BBW. Eurogate Group is active in several container and transport terminals in cities like Genoa, Milan, Bremen, Dortmund and Hamburg....


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Saab to launch new sport sedan on Romanian market

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The Romanian arm of Swedish carmaker Saab, Augusta Motors, said the company will introduce a new 9-3 sport sedan model, which should generate sales of 60 units next year, according to BBW. Augusta Motors general manager Horatiu Ionescu said the new model will help boost the company's sales figure in 2003. The Romanian unit reported sales of 100 units in the January-October period of the year....


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APAPS sells Tufon to CD Plan for 1.06 mln Euro

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Romanian's Privatisation Authority (APAPS) has sold a 98.98 percent stake, or 1.57 million shares, in the Craiova-based cast iron smelting group Tufon to CD Pan, according to BBW. The deal is worth 1.06 million Euro, APAPS said. Tufon's current share capital stands at 39.75 billion lei, which is split into 1.59 million shares. The company, which reported a debt of 109.41 billion lei at the end of September, has a 350-strong staff....


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