Moldova marks 20 years of independence

CHISINAU, August 27 (Itar-Tass) — Moldova on Saturday is marking two decades of independence. On the occasion of the anniversary Chisinau will see a military parade. The extensive program of festivities, which will begin with the laying of flowers at the monument to the founder of the Moldovan statehood – Stephen the Great, includes concerts, exhibitions and other events. This year the government announced a five-day holiday from Saturday to Wednesday, merging the weekend, Independence Day, which is on Saturday, and the native language holiday, which is celebrated on August 31.

Throughout the short history of Moldova the military parade in honor of Independence Day will be held only a third time, and for a good reason. Polls conducted on the eve of the holiday showed the people’s mixed attitude to the holiday. Many of them believe that over the twenty years of independence they have lost more than gained: Moldova has become one of Europe’s poorest countries, its economy collapsed and unemployment has expelled from the country almost half of the working population. In addition, the anniversary, being celebrated amid a protracted political crisis that erupted in the spring of 2009, when parliamentary elections resulted in riots, arsons and looting of the parliament building and the president’s residence. The fire destroyed the original of the Declaration of Independence, which had to be restored. Since then the parliament has been unable to elect a president. The situation has failed to be changed even after a series of pre-term elections, though it re-arranged the balance of political power somewhat. Whereas before the presidential candidates were supported by the Communist deputies, and the liberal-democratic opposition boycotted them, now they have changed places, but with the same net effect.

Ambiguous are comments on the anniversary offered by leading Moldovan politicians.

“Twenty years ago, Moldova gained freedom, its citizens do what they think is necessary for their personal benefit, and they travel around the world without restrictions. As for the bad sides of independence, I personally do not find any. Of course, there are shortcomings, they are typical of all former Soviet republics. But it is a natural process of democracy,” said the first Moldovan president, Mircea Snegur.

“Our trouble is Moldova had no tradition of statehood. Other countries gained independence after decades of internal struggle, but in our country this process coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, of which large numbers of people are nostalgic. Yes, there are difficulties – economic difficulties, uncertainty, and lack of political stability. But all these are soluble problems,” says the second president, Peter Luchinsky.

“While the authorities have been actively preparing for the anniversary, one should recognize a very depressing and tragic fact – all these years were a time of fierce debate between the supporters of Moldovan independence and those who have seen and continue to see our country inside neighboring Romania. It is this controversy and this struggle that remains the major agenda of our development,” said Vladimir Voronin, who was the third president from 2001 to 2009.  

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