Why Independence Day Is a Celebration with Tears in Our Eyes

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Sergiu CEBAN
Yesterday our country celebrated another Independence Day, a holiday that every year gives more reason for painful reflections about missed opportunities and lack of real prospects for the state’s development
Yesterday Moldova once again celebrated its main holiday, Independence Day. For over thirty years, our country has travelled a complicated and winding path, having gone through war and state capture, being mired in corruption and poverty, losing almost a third of its population. That is why the majority of Moldovans did not have reverent emotions yesterday. That day only gave a reason to think again: whether the “founding fathers” had calculated everything correctly and whether there is still a chance to rectify the situation, or everything is vain and hopeless. In spite of ardent and heartfelt speeches on the Great National Assembly Square, the current state of the republic is quite similar to what happened at the dawn of the 90s. There is no unity on the issues of internal and external development within the elites. The authorities, unsure of their sovereignty, are still rushing between several metropolises, meanwhile the country is being torn apart in terms of politics and identity. As three decades ago, Moldova remains a territorially divided state. Although we entered the UN with quite defined borders, in reality the central authorities still do not control about 15% of the country. We are talking, of course, about the Transnistrian conflict, which is unlikely to be resolved even amidst the new circumstances that emerged with the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Apparently, this problem will continue to loom for a long time, as the ruling class has neither the ability to solve the issue, nor even the desire to work hard to reintegrate the left bank. At the same time, despite the fact that the issue of Gagauzia was solved back in 1994, relations with Comrat also remain complicated. It came to the point that the chairman of the People’s Assembly of the autonomy, Dmitrii Constantinov, publicly stated that he did not exclude the proclamation of a “Gagauz republic”, as this was allegedly demanded by the people. Of course, he corrected his statements after several hints from Chisinau. But the fact is that separatist sentiments are still circulating among the ruling regime in the region. In addition to old problems, we cannot rule out the emergence of new hotspots of volatility. For instance, the mayor of Balti, Nicolae Grigorisin, declared the rights to a special status, who drew parallels with Gagauzia in the conditions of entrepreneurial activity’s reform. As is known, its autonomous status protected local businessmen from innovations. Undoubtedly, the entire responsibility for this plight in which Moldova finds itself lies with the elites who failed the task of building a modern Eastern European country. Constant flirting with foreign policy heavyweights and the absence of a clear public project have turned Moldova into a degrading country with weak institutions, pervaded with corruption and divided between various financial-industrial groups and clans based on kinship and political ties. Electing Maia Sandu, and with her the Party of Action and Solidarity, was a “last hope” for people. The country was completely handed over to pro-Europeans, who, with their close ties to West, were supposed to finally pull the country out of the post-Soviet transit stagnation and integrate it into the larger Euro-Atlantic family. As great as the hopes were, so great is the sense of disappointment with the current government. People simply no longer believe that there is anyone else capable of changing anything in this country. The alarming state of despair will sooner or later lead either to a sharp increase in migration or to a social boom, when residents will venture into another revolutionary expression of their discontent with the state and its institutions. If in April 2009 a powerful social protest ended with the symbolic burning of the Declaration of Independence, this time it may end much more tragically. In a fit of anger, the Constitution may be symbolically burnt, and with it the Moldovan statehood. The detractors, together with the Unionists, are probably just waiting for such an outcome, and not in vain, because after three decades Moldova is closer than ever to a sad finale. Negative trends can be accelerated if Moldova is turned into a testing field for geopolitical confrontation, as it has already happened in Ukraine. We should remember that in addition to 27 August, 23 August is also an important milestone in the Moldovan history. On that day, the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed. This fact is a vivid reminder that Moldova has been and continues to be on a geopolitical rift, and its fate can always become part of the influential external players’ deal. But it’s our people who suffer the most, who have to overcome a lot of trials. Although the people are the bearer and source of power, the demographic situation has only worsened in the 32 years of independence. As before, the average citizen is uncertain both about the country and, what is worse, about him-/herself. Over the past decades, the government has failed to offer a common model of identity and meanings, as well as the ideological content of the Moldovan state project to people. The pendulum of national mindset still swings between Moldovenism, Statalism, Romanian Unionists, Romanian-speaking pro-Europeans and other compradors who have no spiritual and national connection with Moldova. Previously, the Plahotniuc-Dodon era was considered to be a dark time in the history of the republic, but as it turned out, things could be much worse. Over the last few years, the highest population outflow was recorded, with the most active part of labour-active and business-minded citizens leaving, who no longer expect to realize themselves in Moldova. The country is becoming more and more demographically devastated and, consequently, deprived of any prospects. Not surprisingly, many experts regret to say that Moldova has problems with its own statehood. This independence was not the result of any serious confrontation or win in a major bloody conflict. Rather, it was a coincidence of circumstances in which many Soviet republics found themselves after the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union. The chance to attain your own state, sovereignty and independence does not come that often, but it is much more important to use this “lucky ticket” correctly. If we assess the current state of Moldova, its socio-economic, resource, demographic potential, the degree of real independence and opportunities to make sovereign decisions, then, alas, it does not even reach the level of Soviet Moldavia. Despite the status of the EU candidate country, there are unfortunately no real premises for something to change for the better. Therefore, citizens and elites can only rely upon the geopolitical fate of the world and our region.