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Research Report

Moldova Matters:: Why Progress is Still Possible on Ukraine’s Southwestern Flank

Pamela Hyde Smith
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2005
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 34
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)
    Christopher J. Makins

    Despite the great progress of democratization in the countries of the former Soviet empire since 1989, there remain several areas where politics are largely frozen in their old pattern and Russian policy continues to resist change. In these areas not only are economic progress and political rights suppressed, but internal conflicts are often prolonged and the growth and operation of transnational terrorist groups, smuggling rings and crime syndicates encouraged. As a consequence, neighboring states are threatened with problems not of their own making.

    The situation in Moldova and Transnistria is a classic example of a challenge that Moldova’s European neighbors...

  2. (pp. 1-4)

    On March 6, 2005 Moldova elected a new parliament, which by mid-April will choose the country’s next president. The election results did not mimic the dramatic upheavals in Ukraine, Georgia or Romania: the Communists lost ground but retained power, the centrist coalition gained ground but not power and the far right stayed even. Still, the election has focused attention on Moldova and its cauldron of competing forces – it suffers from all the typical post-Soviet ills, but it has also managed some of the region’s unnoticed achievements.

    Moldova has the potential either to become a viable, secure part of the...

  3. (pp. 4-7)

    Driving into Tiraspol, Transnistria’s “capital”, the intrepid traveler or diplomat on a mission passes collective farms, crumbling Soviet-style apartment blocks, the rusted hulls of Soviet tanks, a huge red granite statue of Lenin and billboards exhorting citizens to patriotism. Hollywood could not improve on the authoritarian “president” Smirnov’s Marxist persona. A powerful secret police keeps the population cowed and wary of contact with the outside world. But the traveler also passes a world-class soccer stadium and outcroppings of commercial activity. This paradox results from Transnistria’s position as an entrepot for the smuggling of arms, persons, money, drugs and other goods....

  4. (pp. 7-12)

    Russia is Moldova’s largest trading partner and the supplier of almost all its energy needs. Furthermore – and to the dismay of Moldova’s ethnically-Romanian majority – most of the Communist leaders in Moldova speak Russian as well as or better than Romanian, and grew up seeing Moscow as their sentimental lodestar. Since these politicians turn instinctively to Russian models, Putin’s anti-democratic tendencies have encouraged similar behavior in Moldova, as they have in much of the former Soviet space. On the other hand, there was some hope that the Moldovan government’s pro-Russian credentials would inspire Putin’s government to force Smirnov to...

  5. (pp. 12-14)

    Why should the United States, NATO, Russia or the EU care about Moldova – and attend to its problems – when there are certainly more pressing, more dangerous and “larger” problems clamoring for attention? Neglecting Transnistria and Moldova has been possible for the United States’ top leadership because not too much seems to be at stake in the short term; it is easier to let this slide, and hard to add another ball to the many being juggled.

    The first reason to act is that it is in the interest of the Western democracies to spread stability, democracy and free...