Moldova officially the Republic of Moldova (Romanian: Republica Moldova pronounced [reˈpublika molˈdova] , also known as Moldavia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe located between Romania to its west and Ukraine to its north, east and south. Its capital city is Chișinău.
Moldova declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991 as part of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A new constitution was adopted on 29 July 1994. A strip of Moldova’s internationally recognised territory on the east bank of the river Dniester has been under the de facto control of the breakaway government ofTransnistria since 1990.
As a result of a decrease in industrial and agricultural output since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the relative size of theservice sector in Moldova’s economy has grown to dominate its GDP and currently stands at over 60%. Moldova remains, however, the poorest country in Europe.
Moldova is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. It is, among other organizations, a member state of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization (WTO), theOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). The country aspires to join the European Union and, to this end, has implemented an initial three-year action plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
The name “Moldova” is derived from the Moldova River; the valley of this river was a political centre when the Principality of Moldavia was founded in 1359. The origin of the name of the river is not clear. According to a legend recounted by Moldavian chroniclers Dimitrie Cantemir and Grigore Ureche, the river was named by prince Dragoș after hunting an aurochs: after the chase, his exhausted hound Molda drowned in the river. The dog’s name was given to the river and extended to the Principality.
The first democratic elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990. Mircea Snegur was elected as Speaker of the Parliament, and Mircea Druc as Prime Minister. On June 23, 1990, the Parliament adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the “Soviet Socialist Republic Moldova”, which, among other things, stipulated the supremacy of Moldovan laws over those of the Soviet Union. After the failure of the 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt, Moldova declared its independence on 27 August 1991, Romania being the first state to recognize its independence.
On December 21 of the same year, Moldova, along with most of the other Soviet republics, signed the constitutive act that formed the post-SovietCommonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Moldova received official recognition on December 25. On December 26, 1991 the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Declaring itself a neutral state, Moldova did not join the military branch of the CIS. Three months later, on March 2, 1992, the country gained formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations. In 1994, Moldova became a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, and a member of the Council of Europe on June 29, 1995.
In the region east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which includes a large proportion of predominantly russophone East Slavs of Ukrainian (28%) and Russian (26%) descent (altogether 54% as of 1989), while Moldovans (40%) have been the largest ethnic group, and where the headquarters and many units of the Soviet 14th Guards Army were stationed, an independent Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed on August 16, 1990, with its capital in Tiraspol. The motives behind this move were fear of the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country’s expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR. In the winter of 1991–1992 clashes occurred between Transnistrian forces, supported by elements of the 14th Army, and the Moldovan police. Between March 2 and July 26, 1992, the conflict escalated into a military engagement.
On January 2, 1992, Moldova introduced a market economy, liberalizing prices, which resulted in rapid inflation. From 1992 to 2001, the young country suffered a serious economic crisis, leaving most of the population below the poverty line. In 1993, a national currency, the Moldovan leu, was introduced to replace the temporary cupon. Theeconomy of Moldova began to change in 2001; and until 2008 the country saw a steady annual growth of between 5% and 10%. The early 2000s also saw a considerable growth of emigration of Moldovans looking for work (mostly illegally) in Russia (especially the Moscow region), Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and other countries;remittances from Moldovans abroad account for almost 38% of Moldova’s GDP, the second-highest percentage in the world, after Tajikistan (45%).
In the 1994 parliamentary elections, the Democratic Agrarian Party gained a majority of the seats, setting a turning point in Moldovan politics. With the nationalist Popular Front now in a parliamentary minority, new measures aiming to moderate the ethnic tensions in the country could be adopted. Plans for a union with Romania were abandoned, and the new Constitution gave autonomy to the breakaway Transnistria and Gagauzia. On December 23, 1994, the Parliament of Moldova adopted a “Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia”, and in 1995 the latter was constituted.
After winning the 1996 presidential elections, on January 15, 1997, Petru Lucinschi, the former First Secretary of the Moldavian Communist Party in 1989–91, became the country’s second president (1997–2001), succeeding Mircea Snegur (1991–1996). In 2000, the Constitution was amended, transforming Moldova into a parliamentary republic, with the president being chosen through indirect election rather than direct popular vote.
Winning 49.9% of the vote, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (reinstituted in 1993 after being outlawed in 1991), gained 71 of the 101 MPs, and on April 4, 2001, elected Vladimir Voronin as the country’s third president (re-elected in 2005). The country became the first post-Soviet state where a non-reformed Communist Party returned to power. New governments were formed by Vasile Tarlev (April 19, 2001 – March 31, 2008), and Zinaida Greceanîi (March 31, 2008 – September 14, 2009). In 2001–2003 relations between Moldova and Russia improved, but then temporarily deteriorated in 2003–2006, in the wake of the failure of the Kozak memorandum, culminating in the 2006 wine exports crisis. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova managed to stay in power for eight years. The fragmentation of the liberal bloc (aka the democrats) helped consolidate its power. The decline of the Communist Party started in 2009 after Marian Lupu joined the Democratic Party and thus attracted many of the Moldovans supporting the Communists.