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MOLDOVA


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,964 1,621 1,500 141
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 590 460 400 157
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 317 - (30/05/07)

Modern Moldova in a nutshell 
In 2001, Moldova became the first former Soviet Republic to democratically elect a communist administration. The Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM) won 49.9 per cent of the vote and 71 seats. The Parliament later picked Vladimir Voronin as president.

Legislative elections in March 2005 gave the ruling PCRM 56 seats-five less than the 61 required to elect a president-with 46.1 per cent of the vote. The Democratic Moldova Bloc (BMD) won 35 seats. In April, the Parliament re-elected Voronin to the presidency with 75 votes. Voronin retained Vasili Tarlev as prime minister. 

On April 10, Voronin discussed his views on economic policy, saying, "The particularly monstrous and extremely widespread phenomenon of an underground economy appeared and developed during the 1990s. Its roots entered all the sectors. Ambiguity and lack of clear-cut market rules led to the fact that the entire country and all its citizens live in conditions of double accountancy."

Moldova remains one of Europe's poorest countries, and depends largely on Russia for energy supplies. Around 25 per cent of all Moldovan adults work outside the country.

Voronin is Top-Rated Politician in Moldova 
Voronin is outranking other politicians in Moldova, according to a poll by IMAS. 49 per cent of respondents have confidence in their president.

Prime minister Tarlev is next on the list with 44 per cent, followed by Parliament speaker Marian Lupu with 34 per cent.

Interviews with 1,091 Moldovan adults, conducted from Mar. 14 to Mar. 23, 2007. The margin of error is 3 per cent.

Voronin's popularity puts him in a position to tackle the biggest issue in the country - its very territorial integrity, which is under grave and imminent threat.

Pridnestrovie declared its independence in 1990. Ever since independence, it has functioned as a de facto republic with its own legislature and government institutions. Despite meeting all the requirements for statehood under international law, an unresolved territorial claim by Moldova has prevented it from obtaining international recognition. It has survived through Russia's sponsorship. 

The breakaway mini-republic is also known under the unofficial name Transnistria, a Romanian name, and in English as Transdniesteria or Transdniester, from the English name for the Dniester river (Dnestr, in Russian) which traditionally has formed the eastern-most border of Moldova.

Kosovo recognition expected in May; with Transnistria to follow
Kosovo will declare independence unilaterally if the UN won't play ball, says its Prime Minister. When this happens, the United States will bypass the UN and recognize Kovoso by itself. This will set a precedent in international law which Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) can then choose to follow - looking to Russia for support.

Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku expects Kosovo to declare its independence by the end of May, he said at the end of April. In Pridnestrovie, which is also called Transnistria unofficially, the move is welcomed.

Reactions from Tiraspol see Kosovo as model to follow 
Youth in Pridnestrovie - which is also known as Transnistria, or Transdniestria - had strong words for the West's double standards as well. Directed at the OSCE and its American-led mission to Moldova, they specifically compared the situation to Kosovo. 

"Possible independence for Kosovo could serve as a precedent for PMR, but in reality Pridnestrovie does not need a precedent," said Petru Gladchi, a civil society activist from Tiraspol.

"It is a completely different situation, with Pridnestrovie having a far better case for independence than Kosovo, both legally and historically."

Nevertheless, the U.S. plans for partial recognition were confirmed again on April 28: "The United States will unilaterally recognize Kosovo's independence even if the UN Security Council vetoes such a move," said a former US envoy to the Balkans and the United Nations."

"If Russia decides to use its veto (in the UN Security Council), there will be a declaration of independence in Kosovo, and the United States will recognize Kosovo the same day," Richard Holbrooke predicted during a conference in Brussels.

Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, also in Brussels, attacked Holbrooke over his comments, saying "that is playing with fire in Europe, playing with fire with the transatlantic relationship and playing with fire in the Balkans."

He insisted that the matter had to be decided by a UN Security Council resolution. 

In Tiraspol, Gladchi added that "Kosovo should get independence if that is what their people want. To Kosovo we say: Bring it on! But of course, if they can declare independence unilaterally and be recognized, then so can we. Just wait and see..." 

Moldova conference: Pridnestrovie's population in constant fear of KGB
Pridnestrovie is only independent and stable because of widespread repression. Its population lives in constant fear of the local KGB. That was the conclusion of a Moldovan conference organized to reinforce a set of overused clichés about the unrecognised country. 
The main reason Pridnestrovie is still independent is because the population lives in constant fear of the local KGB. That is the conclusion of one of the speakers at a recent PR conference organized by Moldovan politicians and held last week in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to influence U.S. State Department officials and other invited guests. 

A key speaker at the event was Moldovan nationalist and ex-presidential spokesman Oazu Nantoi, a hardline anti-independence hawk turned spin doctor. Nantoi, who is viewed by Tiraspol's official Olvia Press news agency as the architect of the "black hole" smear campaign against Pridnestrovie's independence, called the government of Pridnestrovie "a criminal regime" which terrorizes the population and is only in power through constant fear and repression. 

The stability of Pridnestrovie concerns its detractors. Pridnestrovie has been de facto independent for seventeen years, and is at peace with itself. For more than fifteen years since Moldova attacked and was driven back, no further deaths have been reported in the conflict. The current president, Igor Smirnov, is genuinely popular and independence for the unrecognised country is supported by an overwhelming majority of local population, in its majority made up of Slavs. This, however, is not the view from Moldova.

Stump speech with 1990's Talking Points memo 
In answering the concerns of the conference organizers, Oazu Nantoi claimed that stability in Transnistria - as he calls the country, using its Romanian name - is not based on popular support for independence, but rather on three cornerstones:

First, he cited what he called the "repressive nature" of Transnistria, arguing that it is a "criminal regime" and not a de facto state. According to Nantoi, the population of Pridnestrovie lives in constant fear of what he calls "the local KGB." This is apparently a reference to the local law enforcement, since no organization by the name of KGB exists in Pridnestrovie.

The fixation on Pridnestrovie as a "criminal regime" is an old stand-by and cornerstone in the official Moldovan stump speech on "Transnistria". Although less and less grounded in reality, it keeps the author on message and helps to guarantee that the message stays consistent over a period of time, regardless of its lack of factual accuracy.

One year ago, Oazu Nantoi himself admitted that it was going to be "more difficult for Chisinau to talk about a 'criminal regime', etc." in the face of growing evidence of democratic pluralism in Tiraspol. In a document published in June 2006, Oazu Nantoi pointed to what he called a "Countdown Race" between PMR's Parliament and the President and admitted that Chisinau would be well advised to change gears. 

Not heeding his own advice, or apparently running out of other arguments, Nantoi nevertheless trotted out the criminal regime speech to his audience in Washington, D.C., in a veritable smear-fest of accusations lifted from a 1990's-era Talking Points memo.

Secondly, and also straight from the repertoire of overused clichés, Nantoi then pointed to "illegal economic activity and organized crime" as another reason for the long term stable viability of Pridnestrovie. As in previous instances of such accusations, he did not offer any evidence or cite any specific examples.

The spin stops here 
There is also a third reason for Pridnestrovie's long term stability, says former presidential advisor Oazu Nantoi: It is due to geopolitical interests of Russia. 

In his view, the 550,000-strong population has no free will, and are merely Russian puppets. Left unsaid in his presentation was the assumption that with Russia out of the picture, then everyone in Pridnestrovie would rush to join Moldova and welcome Moldovan emissaries with flowers.

Non-Moldovan observers with knowledge of the local situation think that spin doctor Oazu Nantoi's over-the-top scenario has more to do with wishful thinking than with any grounding in actual reality.

"It is very unlikely that Russia would turn its back on the more than 30% of locals who are Russians," says Michael Garner, a columnist and Tiraspol-watcher. "It has a legitimate interest in protecting its nationals, just like Moldova has a similar interest in making sure that the human rights of its ethnic kin in Transnistria are equally guaranteed. Just as Moldova can not turn its back on the roughly 30% who are ethnic Moldovans, Russia can also not abandon the 30% who are ethnic Russians."

Garner points out that both Moldovans and Russians who live in Pridnestrovie are supportive of independence. Based on interviews with the local Moldovan population, ethnic Moldovans on the left bank have little interest in a unification with Moldova. Most, but not all, prefer independence and sovereign statehood and don't want to become part of the Republic of Moldova.

Remove peacekeepers and stop talks with Tiraspol 
Publicist Oazu Nantoi, a former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Moldova, wants Moldova to get tough with its small neighbour to the east.

For starters, Nantoi does not want to include Tiraspol in the settlement talks over its future status. As reported by the Moldova Foundation, he thinks it is nonsense to expect progress from peaceful negotiations between Chisinau and what he derisively calls "the Russian puppets in Transnistria."

Instead of negotiations, he wants to change the military balance which has kept the peace for the past fifteen years. A change in the peacekeeping forces would change things greatly, according to Nantoi.

"It should be possible to peacefully dismantle the existing Transnistrian regime and remove the Russian peacekeeping forces," said Oazu Nantoi. Since 1992, peace in the region has been guaranteed by an international peacekeeping mission consisting of military troops from four sides: Moldova, Pridnestrovie, Russia and Ukraine. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) participates in with observers in the Joint Control Commission which is tasked with peacekeeping oversight. The current structure was put in place under a ceasefire agreement signed by Moldova and is widely viewed as the most successful and effective peacekeeping mission in the post-Soviet space.

"Is the current peacekeeping operation effective or not?", asked Dmitry Vetrov, First Secretary of the Russian Embassy to the United States. "Our answer is that it is effective. After all, the peace is kept."

The event titled "Frozen Conflicts in the ex-Soviet Union. Two-track Approach: Democratization and Multinational Peacekeeping Operations. The Case of Moldova" was held on April 26 in Washington, D.C. No official representatives from Pridnestrovie were invited, in accordance with Nantoi's view that Tiraspol should be excluded from consultations and settlement talks involving its own future.

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