Moldova: A Long-Term Construction

moldova 2At the end of August, The Republic of Moldova celebrated its 23rd anniversary of independence. In this period, the country has taken on many challenges such as nationalism, migration and the economic crisis. The next challenge is the parliamentary elections that will determine the path for the next four years.

 

 

August 27th, Chișinău; it is nine o’clock and the first group of visitors slowly gathers. The majority has come with children or grandchildren. Elegant dressed and holding cameras in their hands, everybody impatiently waits. Finally, the guard gives a sign and allows the group to climb the marble stairs. The renovated plenary hall sparkles with cleanness and looks welcoming. “This is where the politicians meet and discuss the rules,” says Mihai to his seven-year-old granddaughter Alexandra.

 

The politicians, however, are hard to find in the Parliament during this day of “Open House”. Today’s programme is full of events, but first and foremost comes to wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Stephen the Great. In the 15th century the prince protected the country against the Ottoman Empire, Poland and Hungary. During his 47-year-long reign, Stephen had tried to consolidate Moldova and create a well-developed principality. Today, the citizens of this small landlocked republic expect the same from the actual political leaders in the next legislative session.

 

“I'm waiting for the changes for better in all areas. I also hope that the members of the Parliament would unite the people instead of separating them”, said Svetlana, a visitor during the events.

 

The countdown starts now

 

The clock is ticking for Moldova’s politicians. Three months remain until the parliamentary elections in Moldova. In this time, the politicians not only have to convince the people to vote for them, but also to come and vote (in November 2010, the turnout was only 61.6 per cent). Before the real and hard election campaign begins, political parties get by with easy methods - some call the population to wear the national dress, others cordially invite citizens to an open-air concert with Goran Bregović as the headliner. Political advertising à la “Moldova, off with you in the EU” illustrates the visa-free regime as the greatest achievement of the ruling coalition, whereas it is nothing but a motivational tool used by the European side.

 

Meanwhile the opposition does not hesitate with a response. Igor Dodon, the head of the Socialist Party of Moldova, recently made it clear during a press conference that strengthening the Moldovan fragile statehood is the focus of his programme. The Socialists demand that Moldovans come to their senses and take part in a new referendum regarding the further development of the country before it gets worse.

 

No one saves us but ourselves

 

According to the comprehensive study “How Moldovans perceive the European Union”, which was published in June 2014, the state reconstruction of Moldova is one of the main concerns of its citizens. The public opinion is explicitly divided between the two regional centres of power and the government struggles to find a way to have good neighbourly relations with the EU and Russia simultaneously. But the reconstruction of a state is not based on charity gifts from the outside, but on an effective government and a state’s stability.

 

The qualitative survey entitled “Making Moldova a Home” shows an increasing sense of urgency focused on rebuilding Moldova’s state capacity. The statements like “the EU does not yet see us as a nation” or “we are still perceived as a part of the former Soviet Union” reveal a trend for the critical self-assessment of respondents. The main obstacles in the further development of Moldova are seen in its excessive state bureaucracy, corruption and lack of political will. At the same time, the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU is cautiously treated and causes doubt. “The Association Agreement is not manna from heaven, but a framework which can offer various possibilities if it will be well-implemented,” says Pirkka Tapiola, the head of the EU Delegation in Chișinău.

 

No dialogue is worse than any dispute

 

The progress in EU-Moldova relations does not please everybody. “The Moldovan government has not taken into account the interests of citizens from both banks of the Dniester River,” said Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. This opinion was expressed during a meeting with Iurie Leanca, the prime minister of Moldova, held on August 22nd. Besides talks regarding the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, the order of day included such themes as the embargo on certain Moldovan products and the situation of Moldovan migrants in Russia. Rogozin may have left Chișinău without any comment, but the Moldovan prime minister described the exchange of views to be very useful: “We want to understand the logic of Russia’s decisions and the reasons for introducing tariff and non-tariff barriers on Moldovan goods. Each side has its own point of view, but we will continue the dialogue.”

 

Despite misunderstandings of the government, the disintegration of society and the slow dynamic of changes, the construction of the state of Moldova gradually continues. The most important is that in this “building period”, no tools should be missing and nothing should be stolen.

 

Ensuring that the representatives of the people will be selected on November 30th is a significant step in this building stage for Moldova. If they will not pay attention to the necessary requirements, the construction site called “Moldova” could remain blocked for a long time.

 

Mila Corlateanu was born in Moldova and studied at the Berlin School of Journalism and interned at the German Bundestag. She is a member of the International Francophone Press Union and is a regular contributor to the online magazine Europe & Me.

 

For in-depth coverage on the current situation in Moldova – see the Sept-Oct 2014 issue of New Eastern Europe available now!

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