Moldova. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Moldova is 4,033,974 people in 2020. Talks on the interrupted peace process between Moldova and the breakaway republic of Transnistria (Dnestr) began in Brussels in February. Representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the European Security and Cooperation Organization OSCE participated. The continued presence of Russian troops in Transnistria, as well as the stockpiles of old Soviet weapons, were among the most difficult war issues.
During the year, the United States put pressure on Russia to fulfill its earlier promise to evacuate Moldova. But instead of the closer, the distance between the two parties increased during the year, since the Russian-speaking Transnistrian authorities closed several schools for Moldovan children in July. Security forces were used, among other things. to force some 60 children, some orphans and homeless people, from a boarding school in Bender. The authorities claimed that the schools did not have legal registration, but the conflict mainly concerned language and culture. Most of the Moldovan-speaking minority in Transnistria use Cyrillic letters as in Russian, but some schools usually use the Latin alphabet as Moldova has done since the early 1990s. The Moldovan language is very similar to Romanian, since Moldova was part of Romania until it was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.
The political conflict around the language of the schools continued during the autumn term, even though the OSCE condemned Transnistria’s act as “linguistic cleansing” and Moldova asked Russia for help in resolving the crisis. Since Moldova imports large parts of its electricity from power plants in Transnistria, the country is very vulnerable and anxious that the conflict will not escalate.
The severe economic problems in Europe’s poorest country have caused about 700,000 young people to leave Moldova since independence to look for jobs elsewhere. Most of them work illegally in EU countries.
The area east of the Dnestr has had close ties to Moscow for 200 years. Already in the 18th century, the region fell under the Russian tsar. In 1922 it was incorporated into the Soviet Union as an autonomous part of Ukraine.
In 1940, the area became part of the newly established Soviet Republic of Moldova. It was the first time that the areas on both sides of Dnestr belonged to the same administrative unit. Russians and Ukrainians were encouraged by the Soviet leadership to move there in the 1950s and 1960s, when the industry was rapidly expanding.
When Moldovan nationalism grew in the late 1980s, fears east of Dnestr arose that Moldova would be reunited with Romania. Separatists began to take control of the area. In December 1991, armed clashes broke out between separatists and Moldovan allies. The government in Chișinău accused the Russian 14th Army, stationed in the area east of Dnestr, of supporting the separatists. The Moldovans were accused of receiving support from Romania. About 700 people lost their lives in the fighting and 50,000 fled to Ukraine.
A ceasefire was concluded in July 1992 after the Russian army had actively entered the war. A demilitarized zone was established along the border between Moldova and Transnistria, where Russia allowed its soldiers to remain in order to maintain the ceasefire and disarm Transnistria.
Since then, no final agreement on the status of the region has been reached. Moldova refers to the Constitution, which gives the area autonomy within Moldova’s framework, and demands that the Russian soldiers be withdrawn. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as Russia and Ukraine have participated in the talks at various stages. A 1997 agreement on the status of the area has been interpreted quite differently by the parties.
When the Communist Party won the government in Moldova in 2001, many believed that a solution was possible, but when Russia presented a new peace plan in 2003, the Moldovan government said no. The reason was that the Russian soldiers were not withdrawn. In the summer of 2004, the crisis intensified. Then Chișinău imposed financial sanctions on Transnistria since Moldovan-speaking schools were closed there.
In the spring of 2005, Ukraine presented a peace plan with enhanced autonomy for Transnistria. The proposal was accepted by Moldova, but Smirnov said no. At the same time, Ukraine began to help Moldova to stop smuggling traffic through Transnistria with EU support. The purpose was to stave off its illegal income in order to make the Smirnov regime more interested in a settlement with Moldova.
In response to increased Ukrainian border control, in 2006 Russia introduced a temporary blockade of all wine imports from Moldova. The Moldovan government also believed that the sharp rise in the price of Russian gas in early 2006 had to do with the conflict. When Moldovan President Voronin met with Smirnov in Tighina (Bender) in 2008, the first meeting was between them in almost seven years.