“Moldova’s independence is a fiction”. The war in Ukraine has changed the perception of the word “independence”
On the 27th of August, 31 years ago, the Republic of Moldova broke away from communism, declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and Latin script and the Romanian language returned between the Prut and the Dniester. The road to independence was a complex one, marked by civil demonstrations, and the final result was slow in coming, due to pro-Russian activists on the left bank of the Dniester and Communist Party supporters. Although there was an enormous desire on their part to keep the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR, the success of the national movements of the late 1980s was undeniable.
Ziarul de Gardă spoke to some of the leaders of the national revival movement, who brought the moment of independence closer. Some believe that we are not independent even today, while others argue that 31 years ago Moldovan politicians were not able to truly perceive the full importance of those moments.
Eugen Doga: “We are not independent. Ukrainians, fighting, are closer to being independent”
People’s Artist of the Republic of Moldova and People’s Artist of the USSR, winner of the National Prize and the State Prize of the USSR, Knight of the Order of the Republic and other honours and titles at home and abroad, full member of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, the composer Eugen Doga, loved by the whole world, says that 31 years ago he saw Moldova’s sovereign path differently.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed with the path Moldova has taken these 31 years, but I can certainly say I’m surprised. And it is not a positive surprise. Those of us who fought for independence have been forgotten. Who cares anymore about the values we tried to promote then? Hardly anyone! The identity of a country is shaped by the spiritual integrity of those who represent it. If I tell those in power about spirit, they will all open the DEX, because they have no idea what it means”, said Eugen Doga.
Eugen Doga also believes that we have been misinterpreting our independence for 31 years and that our neighbours in Ukraine are much closer to understanding the essence of this phenomenon.
“First of all, today is not Independence Day, but the day independence was proclaimed. These are two different things. We are not independent even today. Neither are the Ukrainians independent, but they are fighting for it, so they are closer than we are to being independent. How can we talk about the independence of Moldova if we don’t even have an anthem of our country. “Our language” is the anthem of the Romanian language, it is not the anthem of Moldova”, added the famous composer.
Writer Vladimir Beșleagă: “Our independence has become a fiction”
Novelist, essayist and politician Vladimir Beșleagă was one of the main figures of the national revival movement in Moldova. A member of Moldova’s first parliament, the famous writer believes that Russia’s influence in our country has not disappeared for a day in the last 31 years.
“After the Moscow putsch, when the former republics of the Soviet Union declared their independence one after the other, about three months passed and the leaders of these countries were summoned by Moscow to Almaty to sign the formation of a community of independent states, also called CIS. The independence that these former Soviet colonies were allowed was symbolic. There was no independence in the true sense of the word. This was known both to Moscow and to the United States. Russia will always claim rights over these countries, which are independent only on paper. Ukraine was attacked by Russia, Georgia was attacked by Russia, there are separatist regions in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova. And this reduces the notion of independence in these territories to almost zero,” he said.
Vladimir Beșleagă also believes that a country cannot call itself independent as long as it lives in fear that at any moment the Russians could “knock on its door”.
“Our independence has become a fiction. Other countries in the former socialist camp – Poland, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia, which has split into several countries – are protected by NATO. The countries of the former Soviet Union do not benefit from this “protective shield”, and are continually endangered. And if you are permanently afraid, how can you call yourself independent?”, added the former MP.
“Moldova’s independence means total independence from Russia”
Signatory of the Declaration of Independence on 27 August 1991 and member of the first Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, as well as Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova in 1994, Nicolae Andronic, says that 31 years ago, Moldovan politicians were not able to truly perceive the importance of those moments.
“On the day we voted to proclaim Moldova’s independence, we perceived this word differently. Now, 31 years later, I see that we are still not independent. Because independence for Moldova means total independence from the Russian Federation. At the moment, we can only call ourselves independent thanks to Ukraine, which, as long as it holds out, will guarantee us a certain kind of sovereignty”, said Nicolae Andronic.
The former deputy speaker of the Parliament, who in the past has never been known for promoting unionist ideas, also believes that the only way for Moldova to achieve true independence is to return to Romania.
“We will be truly independent only if we reunite with Romania. In my time, I was not a great unionist, but my life experiences have convinced me that this is our only way. It is a pity that at that time, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, very few of us were aware of this. Now, when we feel a real threat from Russia, perhaps it is time to resign ourselves to the fact that unity is the only solution,” said former MEP Andronic.
“As long as the identity ambiguity continues, we will not be able to talk about true independence.” Political scientists’ views
Anatol Țăranu: The war in Ukraine has introduced categorical nuances in what is called the perception of independence. It is now becoming clear that the declaration of independence 31 years ago was only the beginning of this process. True independence is the process of a long-term effort. And we, the Republic of Moldova, have by no means completed this effort. It is enough to remember that in these 31 years, Moldova has never had complete territorial integrity. This means that our independent state is an incomplete state.
For Moldova, the issue of independence is a question of identity. During the war, Ukrainians demonstrated that they are ready to fight for their country, being convinced that they are a different people from the Russians. In this war, the identity of Ukrainians has hardened and become an undeniable reality. In Moldova, as long as the ambiguity of identity continues, we will not be able to talk about true independence. True independence is capable of giving a people the ability to decide their own destiny. From this point of view, the awareness of the Romanian identity of the Republic of Moldova and the return to the space of its origin and historical entity would mean true independence. Fulfilling the ideal of national unity is, in fact, the true essence of Moldova’s independence.
Ion Tăbârță: After 24 February 2022 for most post-Soviet states independence may be associated with insecurity. Russia’s brutal and barbaric attack on Ukraine, probably the most powerful post-Soviet state after the Russian Federation, demonstrates once again that the current regime in the Kremlin is aiming at rebuilding the Soviet Union. No state of the former Soviet republics can be abolished by possible aggression from Russia. The danger posed by the Russian state to the world order has been realised in international relations.
With regard to the Republic of Moldova, the case of Ukraine has highlighted how vulnerable our independence is. Suddenly, “overnight”, such topics began to be discussed in society: security, the role of neutrality, the national army. We realised that for more than 30 years, we had not been concerned about the security of our state, going down false trails, such as neutrality. It is clear that in order to face some possible Russian danger, Moldova needs allies and partners. On our own, even if neutral, we are an “easy prey” for the aggressive “big brother” from the East.