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President Voronin calls Russia a strategic partner and asks Romania to desist its "big brother pose"

President Vladimir Voronin announced on December 20 that Moldova will buy gas from Russia's Gazprom for $170 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2007. The price is just $10 higher per 1,000 cubic meters than the price Moldova paid in 2006. Voronin said the relatively small increase is contingent upon unspecified joint projects Chisinau offered the Russian state-controlled gas monopoly. "We have no alternative to the natural-gas imports," Voronin said. " The natural-gas price for Moldova will reach the average European level by 2011."

In a sign that Chisinau's chilly relations with Moscow may be improving, President Voronin said Russia is Moldova's strategic partner. "Russia is our main economic partner, the main market for our goods and a supplier of energy carriers." Voronin added that the two countries' common interests go beyond economics. "Our relations are based first of all on universal values, on a common history and on human relations," he said.

Voronin also said he wants good relations with Romania, but urged Bucharest to consider his country an "equal" state. "We cannot accept big brothers or big sisters," he said. "We had big brothers in the former Soviet Union. And as long as officials in Bucharest don't understand this, there will be problems in our bilateral relations."