CHISINAU, Moldova (JTA) –The prime minister of Moldova called for strengthening ties between the Eastern European country and Israel.
Prime Minister Vlad Filat made the call over the weekend during a meeting with Jewish leaders in Moldova for Limmud FSU, the Jewish learning festival that for the first time is being held in the former Soviet republic.
“I call for expanded economic ties between Israel and Moldova, and encourage Israeli investors from all sectors of the economy and trade,” Filat said, according to Limmud organizers.
Among those attending the meeting was American businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, who chairs the international steering committee of Limmud FSU; Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler; and Yoram Dori, a longtime adviser to Israeli President Shimon Peres. Also at the meeting were local Jewish community leaders Alexander Pinchevsky and Alexander Bilinkis.
Filat stressed that there was a new openness in Moldova to outside and private investors. Moldova is among Europe’s poorest countries and has had communist governments even after it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Moldova Limmud has more than 400 participants from the host country and eastern Ukraine. The seminars attempt to reinforce Jewish education and identity among Jews from the former Soviet Union.
Chisinau, often known by its Russian name of Kishinev, has a long history as a Jewish center. However, most of the country’s Jews immigrated to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union, among them current Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.