History of Moldova
The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova's location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe, as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.
After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldavia (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of Russian-ruled Bessarabia in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.
In 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dniester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Stalin also stripped the three southern counties along the Black Sea coast from Moldova and incorporated them in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania sought to regain Bessarabia by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. On June 22, 1941, German and Romanian troops crossed the border and deportations of the Jews from Bessarabia began immediately. By September 1941, most of the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina had been transported in convoys and force marched to concentration camps in Transnistria. About 185,000 Jews were in the Transnistria area in concentration camps by 1942 in abysmal conditions. Very few were left alive in these camps when the Soviets reoccupied Bessarabia in 1944.
In September 1990, the Supreme Soviet elected Mircea Snegur as President of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. On May 23, 1991, the Supreme Soviet renamed itself the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, which subsequently declared its independence from the U.S.S.R.
In August 1991, Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement declared a "Transdniester Moldovan Republic" in September 1990. The Russian 14th Army intervened to stem widespread violence and support the Transnistrian regime which is led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow. In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.
Moldova's Parliament approved the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.
In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUAM-based mutual defense initiative. Moldova has been involved in information exchange, trade and transportation, border control, and energy projects issues within this regional agreement. In 2006, the organization's members voted to change the name to the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM.
1990-1992 Transnistria war
The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, which lies along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minority's demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.
Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state. However, fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive.
President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003; the proposal—seen by many as pro-Transnistrian - sparked opposition protests. During the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian separatists forcibly closed several Romanian language Latin-script schools in the region, for which the regime was subject to international condemnation. In 2005, Tiraspol prevented several farmers on the right bank of the Nistru River from working their fields on the left bank, within Transnistria's "borders." The OSCE Mission to Moldova eventually mediated solutions to these crises.
After a 15-month pause, the sides met for a renewed round of settlement negotiations in October 2005. Mediators from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE joined the Moldovan and Transnistrian representatives at the talks. In addition, the U.S. and EU joined the talks as observers. However, subsequent "5+2" negotiations have made little progress on a settlement or on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova: Russia still has weapons and munitions of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (formerly the Russian 14th Army) stationed in Transnistria, although it pledged to remove them under a timetable established at the 1999 OSCE Ministerial - the so-called "Istanbul Accords." However, there has been no progress on Russian withdrawals since early 2004.
In response to Moldova's call for international monitoring of the border, in December 2005 the EU dispatched a Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to help stem the flow of illegal trade between Ukraine and Moldova. In March 2006, Ukraine and Moldova began implementing a 2003 customs agreement, under which Transnistrian companies seeking to engage in cross-border trade must register in Chisinau. Despite the protests of the Smirnov regime, all major Transnistrian businesses have subsequently registered. In what is seen as a response to the new customs procedures, the Smirnov regime boycotted the 5+2 talks in March 2006. The talks have been stalled ever since. In September 2006, the Transnistrian regime held an "independence referendum." Despite the fact that the Smirnov regime claimed that the referendum demonstrated overwhelming support for independence, the vote was not monitored by any western organizations, and no country recognized the referendum or the independence of Transnistria.
Relations with the West
In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
President Voronin's first term was marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Politically, the government was committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Voronin proceeded with former President Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries and even on occasion broke with his own party over important issues. Under President Voronin, relations with the United States have remained strong. From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force and ultimately agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.
In 2005, the European Union appointed a Special Representative for Moldova and the negotiations to resolve the Transnistrian conflict and the Delegation of the European Commission opened an office in Chisinau, In December 2005, Moldova welcomed an EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) along its Ukrainian border to crack down on smuggling, strengthen customs procedures and facilitate cross-border cooperation. In accordance with a 2005 Action Plan with the EU, Moldova has begun to harmonize Moldova's laws with those of the EU. As part of this, in late 2005, Moldova enacted its "Guillotine" laws, which slashed unnecessary business regulations, established a framework for relations between the private sector and government and created a mechanism to review the suitability of draft legislation.
In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova has sent demining units and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq. In March 2011, The Moldovan Orthodox Church resisted efforts from the European Union attempting to force Moldova to accept homosexuality.
In February 2005, Brussels and Chisinau agreed on an EU-Moldova Action Plan, a "roadmap" of reforms to strengthen the democratic and economic situation of the country and facilitate its Euro-Atlantic integration. Although Moldova has made some progress toward laying the structural and legislative foundation for reform, the EU has emphasized that more implementation is needed.
In 2000, Parliament passed a decree making Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the president elected by Parliament instead of by popular vote. Widespread popular dissatisfaction with previous governments and economic hardship led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova's voters cast their ballots for the Communist Party. Under the rules of Moldova's proportional representation system, the Communist faction, which in the previous Parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament's 101 seats, jumped to 71—a clear majority. The Parliament then elected the leader of the Communist faction, Vladimir Voronin, to be president.
In March 2005 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party received 46.1% of the vote, or 56 seats in the 101-member Parliament—more than enough for the 51-vote minimum required to form a government, but short of the 61 votes necessary to elect a president. However, President Voronin was re-elected with support from the Christian Democratic People's Party and from the Democratic and Social Liberal party factions, after Voronin promised to deliver on needed reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration for the country. These defections broke apart the opposition unity of the pre-election Moldovan Democratic Bloc, led by Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) faction leader and former Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean.
Nationwide local elections in June 2007 showed improvement over nationwide parliamentary elections in 2005, with better access to the media for opposition candidates, and greater evidence of impartiality by the Central Election Commission. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government's behavior in the campaign period—including bias in state media and misuse of administrative resources—remained a concern. The Communist Party suffered a significant setback, losing the high-profile Chisinau mayoral election and control of numerous local councils to opposition party coalitions. Elections in the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia were held in December 2006; Mikhail Formuzal, a longtime opponent of President Voronin, was elected "Bashkan" (Governor).
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2009 and the new Parliament will elect the next President of Moldova. In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers, radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government policies. In August 2004, Teleradio Moldova (TRM) was officially transformed from a state-owned company into a public broadcaster. However, journalists and civil society representatives, who claimed the process was nontransparent and meant to stack the new TRM staff with those favorable to the government, met this move with large protests. In February 2007, a controversial privatization process shut down the popular, pro-opposition Chisinau radio station Antena C, and installed new, pro-Government management. The U.S. Ambassador, the OSCE and western diplomatic missions condemned the developments, which seemed to run counter to the Moldovan Broadcasting Code and risked silencing political opposition. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Moldova enacted a new law on religion in July 2007. The new law, while noting the special status of the Moldovan Orthodox Church in Moldovan history and culture, simplifies registration procedures and allows religious groups more access to public places.
2022 Persecution of Russians
- See also: Russophobia
On April 19, 2022, Moldova banned wearing the black and orange Ribbon of St. George, established in 1769 as the highest military decoration in Czarist times, continued in the Soviet era, and reaffirmed in 1998 by Presidential decree signed by Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin. The ribbon has come to commemorate veterans of the Eastern Front of the Second World War. Citizens interpreted banning the ribbon as pressure by the United States on the Moldovan government to exterminate any memory of Russian culture. The same day, four days before a NATO terrorist attack on Transnistria, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Moldova.
- See also: Russia-Ukraine war
Moldova has not joined European sanctions against Russia.
On April 29, 2022 it was reported that Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, USA, UK, France, Canada, Germany, and Russia have called on their citizens to leave Moldova and/or the Transnistria region as soon as possible. This follows an escalation in tensions in Moldova, with several explosions occurring, reports of gunfire, and a general mobilization in Transnistria which is outside of Moldovan control.
On May 21, 2022 UK foreign minister Liz Truss said Moldova should be armed to NATO standards.
Former president Igor Dodon, who advocated neutrality, was arrested and detained by the Chisinau regime. Dodon is opposed to the regime's policy vis-a-vis NATO aggression in Black Sea region. Peaceful protests were held outside the parliament building demanding the release of Dodon and an end to persecution of political opponents.
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