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Moldova: Twenty Years of Independence Marked with Parade and Disillusion

On August 27, Moldova has marked its 20th year of independence, an anniversary commemorated this year by the other 13 ex-Soviet republics. Moldova was the last of the European states to declare its independence from the Soviet Union [chronology], followed only by the Eurasian countries.

When last asked in November 2009 whether they regretted the dissolution of the USSR, 48.6 percent of Moldovans answered affirmatively, as opposed to only 32.4 percent who did not regret it. The same survey showed that the majority of people considered that the living conditions, health care, food and the quality of education were better in the Soviet Union, while the situation with the freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of travel and religious freedom had improved.

The 20th anniversary of independence has found Moldova without a president for the second year in a row. An unresolved conflict surrounding the secessionist republic of Transnistria is still shadowing the country’s territorial integrity. The state has around half a million fewer citizens due to emigration in search of a better life as the country is still ranked the poorest in Europe.

According to the latest opinion poll from May 2011, 65 percent of the citizens are not happy with the situation in the country, and only 24 percent believe that things are moving in the right direction. Nonetheless, 83 percent of Moldovans are proud to be citizens of their country and only 3 percent have declared not to be proud.

Rocket launcher trucks are driving by during the military parade in Moldova's capital Chisinau, as Moldovans celebrate 20 years of independence. Photo by Adrian Hancu, copyright ©Demotix (August 27, 2011)

Moldova’s anniversary debates have flooded the national blogosphere; overall, critical and disillusioned attitudes outweigh the enthusiasm.

Victor Chironda questions [ro] whether we have really learned the independence lesson:

Over a time period of 20 years Moldova had an opportunity to start from zero, just like a newborn, to learn to stand on its feet and walk, to learn the “cans” and “cannots”, the good and the bad. And together with Moldova, each one of us had this opportunity.

But have we truly exploited this chance? Have we learned to stand on our feet? Have we learned “to walk” in these years?

The fact that the 20th anniversary of independence has caught us in a full political, economic, social and even moral crisis suggests that we have not really learned the lesson.

This year, for the first time ever since gaining independence, Moldovan authorities have organized a military parade. This decision was received with diverging reactions within the society. In regards to that, Denis Cenusa believes [ro] that:

The contrary opinions within the society concerning the rationale of hosting a military parade in Chisinau uncover a state of apathy towards the Independence Day in general and, on the other hand, unveil a high level of anxiety from some segments of the population towards the political class.

The military parade is considered “fanfaronade” by Alex Cozer, who writes [ro]:

I had a bitter smile when I heard that for this fanfaronade new clothes had been made for the soldiers and new shoes bought, and the military cars that stood rusting for years had been repaired and repainted.

I hope nobody will get the wrong idea that I don’t love this country or that I don’t respect its independence. I love this country and I respect the date of August 27, even if this independence has been obtained after almost all other ex-Soviet states had broken away from the USSR, and even if our independence during these last 20 years has been mostly a fact on the paper.

A high-ranking Moldova military official in an old Soviet Volga car, during the military parade in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo by Adrian Hancu, copyright ©Demotix (August 27, 2011)

Nati Vozian believes [ro] that only hope keeps Moldova going:

For 20 years, it has carried on its shoulders 4 million people who want to eat every day, a handful of oligarchs and parliamentarians who exploit it and use it as they please. From 1991, it has lived unfulfilled dreams, disillusions and deceptions. It is poor, but independent. It is small, but has a big soul. It has potential, but it is not discovered. It gets promises, but not actions.

Only hope keeps it on its feet.

Our young Moldova turns 20 this year. It does not want praises, thousands of congratulations and wishes of well-being. It wants to receive only one gift: a better life…

Vlada Ciobanu addresses [ro] Moldova directly:

Dear country,

Soon there will be many posts full of pathos about how wonderful you are and how much the people love you. These would boost your self-esteem. A success story, in other words.

To be clear in which moment of our relationship we are now, know that I am looking forward to the Romanian citizenship. Somehow I do not trust these men that you change every four years (nowadays even more often). But I really want to travel around the world and to have the certainty that I can leave from here in any moment when you begin sinking. […]

I am not complaining, and I am not leaving, I just want you to know how you are; the others are lying to you. They lie because they do not love you. The people who love you say everything to your face.

Nata Albot wants to see a change in people’s minds. She writes [ro]:

In the morning we chose the slogan. Moldova, I do love you. Slogans were many. Incredible ones (not on a positive note). Pathetic ones. Just like we have been used to be towards this country. We spit on it 365 days a year, we complain, we curse it. Not that it would not deserve. But not the country is to blame. The country is wonderful. It is a strip of land that hosts us, feeds us, gives us a place to live and work. The bugs in our minds are to blame. We think wrong, we believe too much in priests and fortune-tellers, we drink a lot, we tell lies, we do not respect each other, we do not learn the language, we steal, we bribe, … I'm telling you… Not the country is to blame. The people make the country. And if the people f…ck it, they must undo this. Meaning nothing is impossible. We just have to change the direction, or the speed, or the volume, or the light in our thoughts. Something certainly needs to change. In our minds.

On a different note, Vitalie Marian has written down [ro] at least 20 reasons for which he loves Moldova:

Here I was born and here live my dear parents.
Here I met my dear wife and got married.
It is a beautiful country with the most fertile soil (even though its potential is not even barely exploited).
It has people with a great heart, hospitable and very patient.

He does not forget to list some ironic reasons as well:

Even if hot water gets turned off, you still have cold water.
Even if we do not have a president, I do not feel the difference.
Even if the financial crisis is stressing out the entire world, everything remains stable in Moldova.
Even if everything is bad, people do not lose their grip and sense of humour.

  • http://randomdijit.blogspot.com Jake

    Curious… What flag is he flying from that Volga?

    • http://www.adrianhancu.com Adrian Hancu

      Hello Jake,
      This the flag of Moldova’s Armed Forces.

      • http://randomdijit.blogspot.com Jake

        Thank you, Adrian, especially if my question seemed silly for being so off-topic. I’ve never been to Moldova, and news from there usually focuses on either migrants or Transdniester, but it still looks and sounds like a beautiful country. Photos of the countryside (including yours) look a lot like my home in Wisconsin. I hope your photoblog is back up soon.

  • http://juliekinnear.com Julie Kinnear

    Having 83 per cent of proud Moldovans is not a bad start – at least it shows that people are willing to work to make their country a better place to live in.

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