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Moldova's constant pull, eastward and westward in turn

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Moldova's constant pull, eastward and westward in turn


Moldova has historically been pulled between Russia and mainstream Europe.

At the weekend, thousands of Moldovans waited at their embassy in Moscow to vote in the parliamentary elections.

Pro-Russian voices shouted warnings against integration with the EU.

Sofia, a Moldovan citizen living in the Russian capital, said: “No one is against the European Union, but don’t think the EU will do us any good, we’ll just see another war, like in Ukraine. People will kill each other. We don’t need this war.”

The small, poor former soviet country of 3.5 million, 78 percent Romanian-speaking, with a strong Russian-speaking minority, is of two minds over whether to stick to the pro-Europe path pursued for the past five years or gravitate back towards Russia.

The partners in a centre-right coalition have done little to reduce corruption and infighting, which benefited the opposition. They did sign and ratify a far-reaching political and trade deal with the European Union. That riled Russia no end.

It banned Moldovan fruit, meat and wine, saying they failed health standards — the same backlash felt by a restive Ukraine last year. Other export products saw unfavourable tariff changes — and Moldova is highly dependent on Russia as a market.

Moldova also relies on the cash sent home from thousands of its nationals working abroad.

Elena Gorelova, deputy director of Moldova’s Centre for Strategic Studies and Reforms, said: “The wine industry felt the impact first, and now it has spread to food-processing plants, in addition to fruit and vegetable suppliers. They are all suffering losses, and those will increase with time.”

Moldova declared its independence in 1991. By referendum in 1994, Moldovans refused attachment to Romania. Internally, even in 1990 the territory of Transdniestria had unilaterally proclaimed it was breaking away.

Transdniestria is mostly Russian-speaking. Stalin ordered it to be part of Moldova. No other state recognised this, but Moscow’s support was uninterrupted.

In 2006, Transdniestrians voted for attachment to Russia.

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