(Washington, DC-November 12, 2003) A leading member of the political opposition in Moldova told an RFE/RL audience last week that the country remains vulnerable to criminal forces from the breakaway territory of Transdniestr, while the economic and political system of Moldova is stagnating after two years of communist rule.
"Moldova is a small country under pressure of revanchist forces from abroad," said Oazu Nantoi, the chairman and co-founder of the Social Democratic Party of Moldova, explaining that Russia has both fostered the separatists in Transdniestr and attempted to "legalize" the presence of its own troops in the region. Nantoi says that a formula, developed by former Russian Prime Minister Evgeniy Primakov and accepted by the OSCE, to promote a negotiated settlement of the Transdniestr problem is "unbalanced" because it gives veto rights over any settlement not only to Russia, but the criminal regime in Transdniestr.
Nantoi believes that "with grassroots activity it's possible to rebuild trust in Transdniestr and Moldova proper," thereby reuniting the two states. He acknowledges that "de-criminalization will be the toughest part of the effort" to bring peace to the region, and that the present government of Moldova might not be able to accomplish this.
The Communist Party won control of the parliament and the president's office in Moldova two years ago, Nantoi said, because the "results of the transformation of society…benefited only a narrow sector" of the population. Since that time, the Communist-controlled parliament has made it difficult for opposition parties to come to power, he said, because they raised the threshold for winning seats in an election to 6 percent of the vote for single parties, 9 percent for 2-party coalitions, and 12 percent for 3-or-more party coalitions. At the same time, oversight of elections has been eliminated and, Nantoi said, the government engages in strong media censorship.
Nantoi hopes that his own party, which was founded in 1990, will be able to build "sincere political relations" with democratic institutions in the United States. He, like many of his countrymen, "had a chance during [the Soviet era] perestroika to make a choice," Nantoi said, and "Moldovans chose to become the citizens of a new state… grounded on European values, deep moral values, of political and economic liberty, to counter the lack of dignity, lack of morality in [Soviet] society." "Europe's expansion," he believes, can work as a "counterweight at some point to influence Russian behavior," and help Moldovans regain their sovereignty and democracy.