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Independence Day. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin


https://ipn.md/public/index.php/en/independence-day-op-ed-by-victor-pelin-7978_1075787.html

“There is a risk that in the nearest future, not only the Wine Day will become more popular with the people than the Independence Day, but also the Diaspora Day that during many years has been regularly marked on the eve of the Independence Day. In such circumstances, one could reach the conclusion that the Diaspora Day and the Independence Day should be celebrated concomitantly. It would be said if it happens so...
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People’s attitude to Independence Day

The Declaration of Independence adopted on August 27, 1991 invokes the millennium-long past of our people and its uninterrupted statehood in the historical and ethnic space of its national development and proclaims the Republic of Moldova a sovereign, independent and democratic state that is free to decide its present and future without any interference from outside. After this Declaration, there should be no doubts that the Independence Day is the main national holiday of the Republic of Moldova. Regrettably, the reality is different and this is confirmed by the attitude of the citizens that, by unbeatable inertia, has persisted during many years.

The sociological surveys carried out as part of the Public Opinion Barometer (POB) show that the most important holidays for the families of Moldovans remain the  religious ones (88%) and this is something normal. What is surprising is that the national holidays are commemorated only by about 2% of the citizens. When asking directly the Moldovans what days they celebrate, the sociologists established that the Independence Day and the Wine Day are observed by about 20% of the citizens. For comparison, it should be noted that the Victory Day marked on May 9 is celebrated by 30% of the citizens, March 8 by 50%, the locality’s dedication day by 70%, Easter and Christmas by 90%.    

There are multiple explanations for the aforementioned preferences. However, we should listen first of all to the most active protagonists of the events of August 27, 1991. Recently, one of the co-authors of the Declaration of Independence Vasile Nedelciuc in the August 20 issue of the paper Ziarului de Gardă published very interesting details about the context in which the text of the document adopted by Parliament on August 27, 1991 was drafted. The main conclusion is that the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova was circumstantial, being designed in connection with the putsch of August 19, 1991. Moldova was among the last of the soviet republics in the European part and the South Caucasus of the USSR that declared their independence from the Soviet empire. What can be deduced from the recollections of the co-author of the Declaration of Independence is that a competent group of people, even if it is a minority one, can produce historical events profiting from the circumstances, if it is made to assume responsibility and risks.

The leaders of the National Renaissance Movement of that period deserve all the respect and recognition of the citizens for having the courage and clear vision for overcoming the opposition of the Agrarian-Communist parliamentary majority, obtaining the voting of the independence in very difficult conditions. The regret of Mister Vasile Nedelciuc is that “we proclaimed the independence, but we yet realize that there weren’t a million people in the Great National Assembly Square that day, as it was reported. We should be realistic as the number of people who were present in the GNAS didn’t represent the majority of the republic’s population as the villages were yet asleep ...”. The somnolence and lack of a broad combative character for achieving the set goals were manifested later by the inability to use the opportunities of the declaring of the independence, as it happened in the Baltic States.

How did Independence help Moldovan politicians

After the declaring of the Independence, the Republic of Moldova fully benefitted from the  support of the international community and was able to swiftly join the most important international organizations, being offered technical and financial support for rebuilding all the state institutions based on democratic principles. However, the cost of transition, especially the quality of the political class, left an imprint on the people’s perception. After the first ten years of independence, in 2001, the Moldovans’ nostalgia for the times of stability of the Brezhnev period was exploited by the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM), which, in the parliamentary elections, obtained a constitutional majority of 71 seats, casting doubt on the country’s independence itself. The PCRM’s statutes and political program clearly provided that the party, being a fully-fledged member of the Union of Communist Parties of the former USSR, “considers that the strengthening of this organization is an indispensable political condition for constituting the federation of sovereign republics with equal rights on voluntary and renewed bases. This is the first allusion to the eventual activation of Article 142 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the provisions concerning the sovereign, independent and unitary character of the state can be reviewed. There were political reasons for doing this, but under the pressure of circumstances, the PCRM had to revise its statutory and programmatic goals, proclaiming the European integration as “the irreversible and natural priority of the domestic and foreign policy of the Government of the Republic of Moldova”. Even so, in 2009, after eight years of government by the PCRM, approximately 48% of the Moldovans regretted yet the disbandment of the USSR.

The removal of the PCRM from power in 2009 radically changed citizens’ expectations of the country’s European integration. In that period, it was curious to see that even if the relative majority of citizens regretted the fall of the USSR, an absolute majority put their hope in the country’s European integration. But the government of the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) of 2009-2015 had an unfavorable impact, disillusioning the citizens. The corruption and bank theft-related sandals made the number of people nostalgic for the USSR in 2016 to rise to 59%. In such conditions, it is not surprising that the leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) won the direct presidential elections of November 2016, the victory being scored shortly after the opening in Chisinau of the branch of the most chauvinist organization in Russia – the Izborsk Club that aims to revive the Russian imperialism. Consequently, given the developments related to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the war in Donbas and the Russian President’s statements that Russia is entitled to claim “the presents made by the Russian nation to the former Soviet republics, we should not underestimate the dangers to Moldova’s independence. 

Conclusions

The aforementioned examples are sufficient to understand why the Independence Day does not have an appropriate place among citizens’ values. No one can get angry with the citizens and their perceptions as they were educated this way. However, before the new electoral cycle, the politicians who pretend to know how the impasse in the country can be broken should rectify their attitudes. The intense and skillful communication with the citizens is crucial in this regard. Ort the continuation of the oscillations and juggling over people’s perceptions can only worsen the tendency of depopulation of the Republic of Moldova, which already lost about 1/3 of its labor force.

There is a risk that in the nearest future, not only the Wine Day will become more popular with the people than the Independence Day, but also the Diaspora Day that during many years has been regularly marked on the eve of the Independence Day. In such circumstances, one could reach the conclusion that the Diaspora Day and the Independence Day should be celebrated concomitantly. It would be said if it happens so.