Romanian PM says first loan to Moldova has been paid



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CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Romania's prime minister says his country has paid 60 million euros ($68 million) to Moldova, the first part of a larger loan, and urged the government to continue making reforms.

In July, the International Monetary Fund reached an agreement with Moldova for a $179 million, 3-year loan arrangement conditional on the government carrying out reforms. Romania, a close ally of Moldova, is helping out financially.

During a one-day visit Thursday, Premier Dacian Ciolos praised reforms carried out so far by Moldova's government, which have also been approved by the IMF and European Commission.

He said the money, part of a 150 million euro ($170 million) loan, had been paid Wednesday.

In 2015, Moldova was plagued by political instability and street protests after more than $1 billion disappeared from three Moldovan banks prior to 2014 parliamentary elections. The disappearance of the money harmed the reputation of Moldova's banking system, and an investigation is underway.

Prime Minister Pavel Filip, who was appointed in January, has overseen economic reforms and restored some credibility to the country's financial system.

Reflecting that, Ciolos said Romania wanted to open a Guarantee and Loan Fund to help small and medium-sized businesses and joint enterprises with Romania. He also spoke about increasing natural gas and electricity links between Romania and Moldova, which largely relies on Russia for natural gas.

"The Romanian government wants Moldovan citizens to enjoy a better situation, which is why we unreservedly support reforms," Ciolos said.

Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014, a pact of closer ties that Russia opposes.

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Alison Mutler contributed to this report from Bucharest, Romania.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Corneliu Rusnac

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