Books on Moldova
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
He insisted that the matter had to be decided by a UN Security Council
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
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
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
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.