|Author: Ana Rudico|
15 Years of Independence of the R. Moldova - Development or Regress?
The 90’ did not just bring the end of the century, a period full of controversies, wars and fast development of technologies. The 90’s also mean to the humanity the fall of one of the biggest powers. It meant that the bipolar world after a long period had transformed into a world apparently based on common interest.
The 90’ also brought the fall of the URSS that had radically changed the geopolitical map of the world and gave birth to 14 independent republics.
On august 27, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova had proudly proclaimed: “The R. Moldova is a sovereign state, independent and democratic, free to decide its presence and future, without any interference from aboard”. 1 As we can see from this declaration the new state had declared then its intention be based on the rule of law, to be one devoted to the democratic values. Soon after Moldova had became a member of the highest level European and international organizations like UN, OSCE and CoE.
On March the 2nd the Dubasari police station was attacked, this was considered to be the beginning of military conflict. On July the 2nd Moldovan President, Mircea Snegur and Boris Eltin had signed the ceasefire agreement which established at that time a 3 parties negotiations that are presently frozen in a 5+2 format
The political pluralism a basis for a democratic society had started in October 1989 when several social movements were officially registered: – Peoples Front from Moldova (PFM); Internationalist Movement „Unitatea-Edinstvo” (IMEU), Gagauz Halki (Gagauz people) and „Vozrojdenie” Movements. Even though these movements had stated democratic goals it was clear that these reflected the deep ethno-political divisions of the population. Although not officially declared by any of these, the Unitatea-Edinstvo movement was supported by the Russian speaking population and was representing their interests, pleading for “internationalism” in its soviet understanding and unconditional preservation of USSR. The last two ones, „Gagauz Halki” and „Vozrojdenie” represented Gagauz ethnics (of Turk speaking but Christian orthodox) and Bulgarians, concentrated in the south of the Republic of Moldova.
The situation looked totally different on the left bank of Nistru, the territory know as Transnistria, a region highly industrialize during USSR populated mostly with Slavic ethnics, it was obvious that the positions of PFM were very weak there, the dominating political force being there the United Council of the Labor Communities (UCLC), a much more aggressive and reactionary movement with fascist principles, which did not tolerate any oppositions, pluralism of opinions etc.
The evolution of the political party system from 1990 till present proves that the historical past can still be felt quite strongly. In the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova the „left wing” politician/party in Moldova certainly regrets the fall of USSR, pleads for „strategic” relations with Russia, and sees the anti-Romanian moldovenism as the only way of survival for the Republic of Moldova etc. While those who define themselves as „right wing” are associated with a pro-European orientation or, even with the idea of unification with Romania and at the same time are treated as anti-Russian.
The first parliamentary elections after the collapse of the USSR took place in the Republic of Moldova on February 27, 1994. when the population of the Republic of Moldova voted massively, the political entities that were associated with stability and security during the communist past. In the circumstances when the Communist Party was forbidden after the putsch in 1991, the citizens of the Republic of Moldova voted for its political „reincarnation”, represented by the Agrarian Democratic Party from Moldova (ADPM) (56 mandates) and the Bloc of Socialists with International Movement „Unitatea-Edinstvo” (28 mandates) – all in all 84 sits out of 104 from the Parliament. ADPM was created in the autumn of 1991, after the prohibition of the Communist Party, and represented the agrarian branch of the communist nomenclature. ADPM was massively supported by the citizens from the villages because they were associated with the social-economic stability from the soviet past, and at the same time the local moldovenism. But the bloc of socialists and internationalists was massively supported by the Russian-speaking population from the industrial centers and by the ethnic minorities from the south (Bulgarians and Gagauz) and from the north (Ukrainians) of the Republic of Moldova. Both political entities were viewed as antipodes to the unification with Romania and collected the votes of those who felt nostalgic for the communist regime being scared of the chaos of the centralized economic system collapse, and of the armed conflict in Transnistria etc. The other extreme side of the Parliament in 1994, the „right wing” was associated with the nationalist idea, was represented by the PFM and the Bloc of Peasants and Intellectuals (moderate unionists).
The next ellections of 1998, 2001, 2005, that had brought to power the Communists Party of the Republic of Moldova (CPRM) due to the lack of any stable, doctrinaire and viable party, the ADPM had to retreat from the political arena after 1998 when after the elections it could not step over the 4 % threshold. At the same time the PFM had registered as – Peoples Christian Democrat Party.
Another phenomenon that was observed in the moldovan political life was the fact that the success of a party was determined by the image of it’s leaders. This meant that it were voted leaders not doctrines and platforms. As an typical example in this perspective could be the „Alian?a Braghi?” („Alliance Braghish”), created with the aim to participate at the elections of 2001. Dumitru Braghis, the Prime-Minister, being a close person to the President Pertu Lucinschi that desired to strengthen his positions in the prospective of the parliamentary elections on February 25, 2001, in a rush, created the electoral group „Alian?a Braghi?” – a heterogeneous coalition of small parties. So the name of the prime-minister in the head of the list was sufficient for this group to collect 13.36 percents (19 mandates). Normally this political ghost collapsed immediately after it got to the parliament and disappeared from the political life. In the eve of the parliamentary elections in March 6, 2005, was made an attempt to reduce the presence of the Communists’ Party in the future Parliament. In this way was created another heterogeneous political bloc entitled „Our Moldova”. In this political project the basic element was Serafim Urecheanu, who was the general major of Chisinau since 1995, which provided for him an important political rating. Using the personal rating of Serafim Urecheanu, this alliance passed to the Parliament and had the same destiny as „Braghish Alliance” in 2001; unavoidably it shattered into several opposing groups.
The elections in 2001 has brought to power the president Voronin the leader of the CPRM, a leader that in his electoral campaign promised to strengthen the relations with Russian and in this way to solve the Transnistrian conflict, it was both elected by the Russian speaking p0opulations as well as by those that were disappointed with the economical situation created by the “democrats” during this campaign the CPRM got 70 out of 101 seats in the parliament which meant that the party had both the parliamentary and constitutional majority allowing the to vote for the president without creating a coalition with some opposition parties. Situation looked a little bit different after the 2005 elections on March the 6th when the CPRM obtained 56 seats having only the parliamentary majority. In order to vote for the president it was necessary another 5 votes which represents the constitutional majority .In order to obtain this votes Voronin had made a “pact” with the Christian democrats that had imposed 10 conditions out of them the European integration of the country and transformation of the national TV station into a public one.
It is worth mentioning that the Relations of Moldova with EU had started before the elections in 2005. Even in in September 2003 Republic of Moldova presented the Concept on Integration of the Republic of Moldova in the European Union, which was taken into account on drafting the Republic of Moldova-EU Action Plan within the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). On February 24, 2004, within the EU Moldova Cooperation Council both parties agreed that ENP offers to the Republic of Moldova a realistic framework for strengthening the relations with the EU and for Moldova to benefit fully from the process of EU expanding. On February 22, 2005, was signed the European Union – Republic of Moldova Action Plan2 within the EU-Moldova Cooperation Council.
Surveys performed in Republic of Moldova, during the previous years, prove that about 70 percents of the Republic of Moldova citizens are ready to vote for adhering to the EU in the eventual referendum.
According to the Constitution the R. Moldova is preserving its neutrality, in this perspective. However Republic of Moldova was the twelve participating state to the NATO Partnership for Peace Programme (PfP) by signing on March 16, 1994, in Bruxelles, of the Framework document in by the President of the Republic of Moldova.
The base of activity the Ministry of Defence within the Partnership is the Individual Partnership Program (IPP), signed by Republic of Moldova and NATO. On July 6, 2006, Republic of Moldova Government approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan of the Moldova – NATO (IAPP). The Republic of Moldova was the sixth state that adhered to this mechanism of cooperation with NATO.
The Government of the Republic of Moldova repeatedly underlined that IAPP provisions are not contrary to the neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova and that IAPP mainly follows the same aims as the EU-Republic of Moldova Action Plan. Still, the majority of the society (some 34 %) would vote for quitting the neutrality status while about 18 % would vote against that.
Moldova accounts for an almost 500-kilometer-long sector of the new Euro-Atlantic border in Eastern Europe. This is NATO's border as of more then two years also is neighbor to EU. Still Moldova remains the least researched and most ignored.
The process of EU and NATO eastward enlargement transform the western border of Moldova in the Eastern border of the Euro-Atlantic community of states. The emerging new European security order requires more efficient actions and efforts in addressing the new risks and threats, closer cooperation with Moldova and efficient assistance in stabilization of the situation alongside the new EU borderland.
On July 26, 2002 the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova has approved the last Concept of the Military Reform. It will be carried out in 12 years (2002-2014) and will consist of three stages (stage I 2002-2004, stage II 2005-2008, stage III 2009-2014).
The National Defence strategy of 1995 is far from being actuall and needs to be revised, as well the Foreign policy Concept that had never been adopted. In this perspective the security sector needs to fundamental reform.
The conflict in the Eastern region of the Republic of Moldova (Transnistria) differs essentially from the other conflicts in the post-Soviet area. After the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, with the participation of the present leaders of Tiraspol anti-constitutional regime as deputies, passed, on the 23rd of June 1990, quasi-unanimously, the Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, Russian authorities expected Moldova to exit from the USSR, following the example of the Baltic States, and to join Romania. Separatism has been used as a means to keep Moldova within the Soviet Union: on the 2nd of September 1990, a group of MPs of different levels joined in Tiraspol and proclaimed the “transnistrian Moldovan soviet socialist republic within the USSR” .
Political confrontations that have occurred during 1989-1992, revealed that the line of political demarcation within the former Moldovan SSR did not coincide with the Nistru River – at its initial stage, the conflict emerged in Transnistria, between the supporters of the independence of the Republic of Moldova and the aggressive supporters of the USSR. The destruction of constitutional state bodies of the Republic of Moldova in the Eastern region of the country and the establishment of the separatist regime were mainly determined by the presence of Russian troops of the former 14th Soviet Army, alongside with the thousands of Russian mercenaries (“kossacs”). In spring-summer 1992, Russian troops committed an act of aggression against the Republic of Moldova by taking sides with the separatist regime in armed confrontation.
The political opposition was repressed on the left bank area and many opponents of the regime have been physically exterminated3 . Because of the policy promoted by the separatist regime, thousands of people left Transnistria, becoming refugees and displaced persons.
Throughout 16 years, Tiraspol regime, self-called “transnistrian Moldovan republic” (“tmr”), is led by a small group of Russian citizens who usurp the right to speak on behalf of all the people from the area under their control. People of the “tmr” are controlled and manipulated by the means of repressive methods, inherent from a totalitarian regime. The “ministry of state security” which is a branch of Russian secret services, plays a particular role in the “tmr” and acts in the region as a political police (following the model of the former KGB). Tiraspol regime has its own army, comparable to the one of the Republic of Moldova, which is in fact a Russian army commanded by officers who are Russian citizens and equipped with arms and ammunition illegally supplied by Russia. The Russian Federation opposes to withdrawing its troops of the former 14th Army from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, invoking as a reason the lack of consent from the side of so called Tiraspol leaders.
The peace-keeping formula, imposed by Russia, implies the participation of Russian, Transnistrian and Moldovan troops that contravenes to the standards of both the OSCE and of the United Nations. The resolutions of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) should be adopted in consensus, this fact being an impediment to the problem solutions. As a consequence, Moldova is condemned to be permanently in the minority.
The five-sided format of the negotiation process was set up as a result of signing on the 8th of May 1997 the Memorandum on the Basis for the Normalization of the Relationship between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria. This format is recognize that there are two parts in conflict the people on the left bank from one side and the citizens living on the right bank on Nistru river, an erroneous approach taking into account that the Transnistrian side is in fact the marionette of Russia and fully obeys the orders coming from Kremlin. While Under such a format, the OSCE, Russia and Ukraine have been vested with a mediator mandate.
Some 57 percents of people over 16 years old have Moldovan passports even though the separatist regime encourage by all it’s means to increase the number of Russian citizens. Also there are 8 schools under the authority of Chisinau subordinated Ministry of education, this schools during their activity are constantly being harassed by the separatist militia. From the ethnical point of view, the population of Transnistria is not different from the one of the rest of the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, on the right bank area, there are even more Russian and Ukrainian nationals than in Transnistria who coexist peacefully. It leads to the univocal conclusion that there is no reasonable ground for granting to Transnistria a special legal status (neither as an autonomy, nor as a federation or a confederation subject, etc.) within the reunified state. As there is not any regional specific, there is not, therefore, a need for a distinct representative body for the population of the “tmr”. The rational solution to this problem could be the parliamentary election held on the whole territory of the Republic of Moldova, in accordance with the Constitution and with the legislation in force.
Moldova has already set a precedent of establishing and operating an autonomous unit – the Gagauzian territorial-administrative unit. The Gagauzian autonomy, set in accordance with the Law on the Special Legal Status of the Gagauzian Territorial-Administrative Unit, dated on 23rd of December 1994, is a failed experiment and a source of arguments while searching for a viable model of internal organization of the future reunified state.
The problem of reaching a viable conflict settlement raises another important issue – the reunified state will be really viable if most of the population of the Eastern region consciously plead for the country’s reunification, for incorporation of Transnistria into the legal, economic, social, etc. space of the Republic of Moldova and if people will not be disappointed by the effects of the reunification. To reach a really viable settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, there is a need for a high quality process of governance at national level (in Chisinau) and the Moldovan society as a whole should display the capacity to “swallow” Transnistria.
The issue of Transnistria has a special place in the relations of the Republic of Moldova with the European Union, which after the adhesion of Romania to the EU, became a direct threat for the Eastern border of the European Union. Understanding these threats, on February 27, 2003, EU and USA introduces travel ban for a group of representatives of the “administration” in Tiraspol as well paying more attention to the Moldovan-Ukrainian border (1222 km), especially on the 452 km uncontrolled by Republic of Moldova Transnistrian segment.
On October 6, 2006, in Chisinau was inaugurated the Office of the European Commission Delegation in the Republic of Moldova. On December 7, 2005, European Union, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine signed the Trilateral Memorandum4 on assistance of the European Commission Mission at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border (EUBAM, www.eubam.org ). This mission started its activity on December 1, 2005, and in this way EU made an important step toward assuring the transparent regime at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and the dramatic reduction of the smuggling through Transnistria.
The newly introduced (March 3, 2006) customs regime which imply that all economical agents in Transnistria will register in Chisinau and the exported goods will be accompanied by Moldova issued documents, was highly criticized by Russia calling it an a economical blockade of the region, media even mentioning about a humanitarian disaster in the region. The feedback reaction was the ban of all Moldovan wines and row material by Russia on March 27, 2006.
Conclusions After obtaining the independence the Republic of Moldova, had passed a difficult process of strengthening the democratic state of law. Though the elections considered free and the power is conveyed constitutionally, the quality of governance is far from facing the aced by the society problems.
Still there are big laps in what concerns the freedom of media, corruption, and independence of courts though these are crucial elements in a democracy.
Moldovan society still did not succeed to step-over the consequences of the difficult historical past, especially after the policy promoted by the totalitarian political regime of the former USSR. Inclusively, because of this circumstance, Republic of Moldova doesn’t manage to establish open and coherent relations with Romania. In parallel, the number of the Republic of Moldova citizens who regained the Romanian citizenship continues to increase. According to the data of the survey5 performed on November 2006, in 10.4 percents of the families at least one of its members have a Romanian passport, while in 17.9 percents somebody submitted the papers for obtaining the Romanian passport;
An especially serious problem for the Republic of Moldova is the deadlock in settling the Transnistrian conflict, which is determined by the weaknesses of the Moldovan state. Thus, due to the lack of competence, corruption and lack of political will of the Moldovan political class, during sixteen years of this issue existence, it is, still, a direct threat for the Republic of Moldova statehood. The EU and USA involvement in the Transnistrian issue has a positive impact on the perspective of the conflict settlement;
The demilitarization and decriminalization of the transnistrean region, as well the democratization of the reunified R. Moldova, is the only solution for the strengthening the Moldovan viable statehood and assurance of the security and stability in this part of Europe.