Romania asks to buy out Moldova's only river port

Romania asks to buy out Moldova
# 30 September 2023 08:14 (UTC +04:00)

Romania plans to buy from Moldova the Giurgiulesti International Free Port on the Danube River to create a hub for Ukrainian grain supplies to the European Union, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said on Friday, APA reports citing Sputnik.

The Port of Giurgiulesti is located in southern Moldova, 133.8 kilometers (83 miles) from the Black Sea, at the Danube River's confluence with the Prut river. The port terminal was constructed in 2006, after Ukraine acceded to Romania 430 meters (1,410 feet) of the Danube and Prut banks. In 2021, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) purchased 100% of shares in the Danube Logistics company, which managed the port. The EBRD has invested 1.4 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in Moldova as of today, becoming its largest investor.

"Romania has informed the EBRD of its interest in buying and developing this port as the EBRD is the majority stakeholder in Giurgiulesti. We are waiting for the response," Ciolacu told Romanian broadcaster Digi24.

The Port of Giurgiulesti, together with the Port of Constanta in Romania, could become a key trade and transport hub in the region in light of the current situation in Ukraine, the prime minister said. Developing such a hub, through which various cargoes, including grain, could be supplied to the EU countries, is a strategic mission for Bucharest, he added.

"Romania will be one of the key hubs for restoring Ukraine after the end of hostilities. And this time, Bucharest must be logistically prepared for it," Ciolacu said.

Meanwhile, former Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said that the selling of the Port of Giurgiulesti to Romania would mean the loss of national sovereignty.

"Clearly, if the port is sold, it can be regarded as a significant loss of the country's sovereignty. When we built this port, we resolved the issue of obtaining an outlet to the sea. All countries have waged wars for centuries to get marine access, and we managed to resolve this challenge peacefully, and are being locked out now," Voronin told Moldovan broadcaster ITV.

Earlier this year, Moldova announced a large-scale reconstruction project in the Port of Giurgiulesti. It includes the construction of a new grain depot with a capacity of about 80,000 tonnes, a new berth 150 meters long and 5 meters deep, a parking pad for trucks, an unloading station, covered warehouses as well as an additional area of ​​2.5 hectares (6 acres) for a new port terminal. The reconstructed port is expected to launch operations in 2028.