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Will Moldova Reunite with Romania?

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Will romania and moldova unite

Image by: Andrei Nacu

Have you ever watched or played a game of chess? During the last 20 years an important game of chess takes place in the eastern part of Europe. The major players are Moldova, Romania, Russia and the European Union. The stake of the game is Moldova. On 20th October, in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, thousands of people marched. The goal of their movement was the reunification of Romania with Moldova. Why people from Romania and Moldova are asking for this action? What are the connections between Romania and Moldova? What are the geopolitical implications for the entire Eastern Europe?

Historical context

Many Romanians believe that their country should share the same destiny with Moldova because there are many historical, social and cultural links between Moldovans and Romanians. Maybe the most important one is that from an ethnic point of view 78% of the Moldovans are Romanians. (CIA, The World Factbook)

In 1812, an important part of Moldova was conquered by the Russian Empire. After the First World War, in 1918 Moldova, also known as Basarabia, returned to Romania and for the first time in the modern history the entire Romanian people were placed under the same governmental umbrella – in the Romanian history this period is called the age of the Greater Romania. During the Second World War, Moldova was annexed by the Soviet Union and until the end of the Cold War was under the Soviet sphere of influence.

After the end of the Cold War, Moldova became an independent nation. The Romanians who lived in this space started peaceful protests. Their objective was the establishment of the Romanian language as a state language. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was afraid that they will lose their grip over the region, but they had the perfect opportunity to maintain a certain amount of influence. Transnistria, the Eastern part of Moldova, the majority is held by Russians (Slavic population). Transnistria is a separatist region and in the first years after the independence there was a blood bath. In order to maintain the security of the region Russian military forces remained here. After 1993 the relationship between Romania and Moldova enters into a gradual cooling era. For example, the 2004 Constitution talks about the Moldavian language and Moldovan nationality.

In 2009 the political party of Vladimir Voronin won the elections again. Vladimir Voronin is a communist. The liberals and civil society used all the social media platforms to organise a huge protest movement in Chisinau. Around 15.000 people were involved and a lot of them were students. Voronin said that the entire movement was a coup d’etat staged by Romania. Step-by-step the entire country became more unstable although the liberals managed to take power.

Romania and Moldova…and Russia

As we mentioned before there are many voices in Romania who believe that Moldova should be a part of Romania and the movement which took place on 20th October are the physical evidence of this desire.

A move on a chessboard is never simple and easy. There are many factors that must be considered. The first one is the economy. Moldova is a poor and divided country. In many ways the situation is similar with Western and Eastern Germany. For example the GDP of Romania will increase with $5.5 billion but the GDP per capita will decrease with more than 1.000 Euro. There are many regions in Romania which have a bigger GDP than the entire Moldova. Also there is the problem of Transnistria and the illegal arms smuggling operations from there. They could interfere and affect the national security of Romania.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said that the reunification is possible as long as the people from Moldova want it. After this statement a newspaper from Russia said that the President claims “could block the European integration of Moldova and they cause even more instability in the region.” (Nezavisimaia Gazeta) Also, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kojara said that Romania and Moldova are sovereign states and they can decide whatever they want in their bilateral relationship.

In the past few years the message Basarabia (Moldova) is Romanian land appeared throughout the major cities of the country and during the movement from 20th October thousands of flags and banners with this message appeared. This message appears on fences, bridges and even governmental buildings and if you walk by foot in Bucharest you can notice this message near subway stations or important governmental buildings.

At the end of the day the opinion of the European Union and Russia must be taken into account because Romania is an EU member and at this moment Moldova is not prepared to enter into the European community. Also a possible expansion of Romania near Transnistria and the Russian sphere of influence has many implications for the security of Moldova as region, for the security of Romania and for the security of the entire European Union.

Moldova is a buffer zone between NATO/EU and Russia. How Romania will play this geopolitical chess game is very important for the future of the entire region because Romania has the opportunity to reboot its diplomatic power in the region but also the future of the 3.7 million of souls living in Moldova is at stake. We cannot think and look at this game from a very cynical perspective because there are lives involved. At this moment the situation is quite grim for Moldova because being a buffer zone is sometimes a geopolitical disadvantage. If Bismarck and his Realpolitik would be alive, he would say that Moldova is just a pawn in this chess game. We all know that Bismarck is dead, but can we say that Realpolitik is also dead? Think about that!

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Europe

Brexit: Three Logistics Concerns for Businesses

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After the vote on 23rd June 2016, for many businesses, it seemed there was ample time to prepare for Brexit. However, the UK is now one year away from leaving the EU and naturally, many business owners are becoming increasingly concerned about its impact.

A recent study showed that 94% of UK SMEs feel that the government is failing to listen to their Brexit concerns. There are also fears that HMRC’s new customs system will not be ready by the Brexit deadline.

For businesses, it is clear that there remains a lot of uncertainty about Brexit, including what trades deals may be formed and how they will affect British businesses. This is particularly true for logistics, where these three concerns are growing.

Cost Implications

For many companies, their number one concern is cost. In order to offset, businesses facing an increase in operating and logistics costs may have to pass this onto their customers, resulting in higher product prices – this is especially worrying for logistics companies like Tuffnells. This could result in a lower sales volume, making a dent in their bottom line.

This additional spend could come from several areas, including:

  • Taxes and tariffs: after leaving the single market, exporting or importing goods may be subject to new charges and restrictions, which could result in higher logistics costs
  • Fuel: The exchange rate of the pound dropped after the Brexit vote and it could fluctuate further after the deadline, resulting in increased fuel and transport prices

Business Systems

Coming out of the EU’s single market – where British businesses currently trade tax-free – presents more issues than cost alone. This includes implementing new business systems.

While HMRC are putting their own customs systems in place, businesses also face the same challenge. Staff will require training on new tariffs and customs, logistics procedures will have to be revised, and businesses will have to find systems and methods to deal with these new processes. All of this will eat into business hours and cost companies further money.

Border Controls

The introduction of new border controls will have several affects on British businesses, including cost, delays and further administrative processes. But leaving the EU will limit companies in another way: freedom of movement.

Pre-Brexit, EU workers had the freedom to move and work in any member state, but this will no longer apply to the UK. This means hiring workers from within the EU could be more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. With many British companies hiring migrant drivers to cover the UK shortage, this could severely impact transport.

The announcement of Brexit brought about uncertainty among UK businesses. Unfortunately, only speculation is possible until all trade deals have been announced and Brexit takes effect in 2019. However, if businesses prepare in these areas, it could help to minimise impact.

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Business

The Future of the UK Used Car Market

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It is an intriguing time in the UK auto market in 2018 with a range of political, economic and social factors influencing the industry. New car sales continue to fall for the 11th consecutive month with diesel taking the brunt of the slide. It is thought that this decline is due to the uncertainty over the Government’s clean air plans (including the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel), but also the economic climate and uncertainty over Brexit.

Sale of AFVs

Although new car sales continue to fall overall, there is evidence that the 2040 ban is influencing consumers with the sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rising steadily over the last 11 months, including a 7.2% rise in February compared to last year. Although this is unable to offset the free-falling diesel sector, it does show that motorists are beginning to prepare for the green car revolution. Motorists are also aware that there are many incentives for making the switch, plus there is now a wide range of excellent electric cars on the market.

Used Car Market

So, what does all this mean for used car dealerships? Sales have managed to maintain stability amidst the turbulence in the industry with a drop of just 1.1% in 2017 compared to 2016. This was largely thanks to the sale of used electric cars, which saw an increase of a staggering 77.1% in 2017. Hybrids were also up 22.2%. This goes to show that motorists are preparing for the future and still have the need to change automobiles, with the used car market being a much safer place to do this as it is a much smaller investment.

The Future

It is easy to see reputable used car dealerships like Shelbourne Motors performing well in 2018 and beyond as more and more second-hand electric cars become available. An increasing number of cities are imposing their own bans ahead of the 2040 ban, plus it is expected that there will be more clarity on the ban and the electric vehicle infrastructure will continue to grow. Additionally, the landscape of a post-Brexit UK will be clearer soon and this could encourage motorists to shop in the used car market.

The future of the used car market in the UK looks healthy despite the fact that there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the UK over the past year. Provided that dealerships are able to provide motorists with a range of second-hand electric automobiles, it is easy to see motorists opting to buy used as opposed to new as this can allow for big savings which is important in the current economic climate. The green car revolution is fully underway and this is what has managed to keep the used car market afloat during a challenging period.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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