In 1998, according to an estimate, the Republic of Moldova had just under 4, 4 million residents. The Moldovan ethnic group, whose language is a variety of Romanian (with the Latin alphabet reintroduced in 1989 in place of the Cyrillic one imposed by the USSR), forms two thirds of the population and is in favor of closer relationships, or even a ‘ union, with Romania. A strong Slavic minority, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, concentrated mainly in a narrow and long strip east of the Dniester, strongly opposed this prospect, proclaiming in 1991, after violent clashes, a Republic of Transnistria (about 700. 000 residents.), protected by Russian troops. There is also a small minority of Gagauz (about 150. 000), the turkish-Tatar language (but Orthodox Christian religion, like other ethnic groups), stationed in the south of the country, which is also the bearer of autonomist instances, partly fulfilled in 1995 (see below: History).
According to Localcollegeexplorer, the major cities of the country is the capital Chisinau (700. 000 residents In 1994), in Russian called Kishinev in the Soviet era, whose urban face has a mix of Romanian and Slavic characters. They exceed 100. 000 residents Tiraspol ‘, the capital of Transnistria, Balti and Tighina.
The country’s economy has been gradually settling down since 1995, when the first privatization measures were completed, involving about 2000 companies. The structural weaknesses of the local productive apparatus reside in the clear preponderance of the agricultural sector, in the strong regional imbalances of industrialization (mostly in favor of Transnistria), in the low level of consumption of the population and in the excessive dependence on commercial exchanges. with the Russian Federation.
The Moldovan territory, flat or slightly undulating and rich in water, is for the most part cultivated with cereals, tobacco, oil plants, weeds and vegetables, vines and fruit trees. There is also a varied breeding of livestock, with a numerical prevalence of sheep. Over 40 % of the Moldovan active population continues to be engaged in the agricultural sector, producing, in partially privatized forms, a considerable share of the GDP: vegetables, fruit, wine, tobacco and even meat once supplied the Soviet market and are still products today. widely exported.
Industrial production is essentially based on the food sector, but also includes engineering, textile, chemical and cement plants. A port outlet on the Danube could favor the growth of the secondary sector throughout the country, which is currently sufficiently developed only in Transnistria.
Since 1997 Moldova, a founding member of the CIS, has formed a customs union with Ukraine; with the latter, together with Romania and Bulgaria, it also signed in the same year an agreement aimed at promoting the creation of a European free trade area in the Danube delta region, the so-called Black Sea cooperation area.
Having become independent in 1991, Moldova found herself faced with an extremely difficult economic and social situation, but also with the need to define on a new basis its position in the regional context and its relations with Romania, with which it had close linguistic ties. and historians. After a first phase of rapprochement with Bucharest, considered by some exponents of the Moldovan political world as a step towards the unification between the two countries, starting from 1994 there was an arrest of this trend and a return to closer relations with the CIS countries, in particular with the Russian Federation, on which Moldova was heavily dependent especially in the energy field and which represented the main commercial outlet for production of the country. Moreover, the idea of a union with Romania was rejected by referendum (march 1994) by the majority of the Moldovan population, after being sharply contrasted by consistent slave and Gagauz minorities residing in the country, who had embarked since 1990 the road to independence from Moldova.
The defeat of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (the new name given by the Popular Front, further modified in Dec. 1999 in the Christian Democratic People’s Party), which had played an important role in the separatist process that only got the 7, 5 % of the votes in the first multi-party elections held in February 1994 sanctioned the effective downsizing of the pro-Romanian orientation. The Democratic Agrarian Party, a proponent of closer cooperation with other countries of the CIS, established himself as the first political force with 43, 2 % of the vote, and gave birth in April 1994 to a new government. In August of the same year, with the launch of a new Constitution, a semi-presidential system was introduced: according to the new constitutional text, the President of the Republic was elected by direct universal suffrage for four years and shared executive power with the Council. of ministers, headed by a prime minister and accountable to Parliament. The latter was made up of 104 deputies elected for four years. The new Constitution also contained a reference to the possibility for the two separatist regions, Gagauzia and Transnistria, to obtain a status of wide autonomy.
The affirmation of non-nationalist forces and the launch of the Constitution helped to dampen the inter-ethnic tension and facilitated the resumption of talks with the representatives of the two regions. In February 1995, Gagauzia assumed a status of wide autonomy, while the talks between the Slavic representatives of Transnistria and the central government found the main obstacle in the problem of the withdrawal of the former Soviet troops stationed in the region, which had come under Russian control. Strongly desired by the Moldovan government and the subject of an agreement with Moscow (October 1994), the withdrawal of the troops was long hindered by the secessionist leadership, which considered the presence of the Russian military a guarantee of security.
If the problem of inter-ethnic relations seemed to be heading towards a difficult compromise, the question of the country’s cultural identity continued to fuel a heated debate. The pro-Romanian nationalist groups (mainly present in the university sphere) continued to claim the definition of ‘Romanian’ and not ‘Moldovan’ for the country’s official language: this proposal, supported by President Moldova Snegur, was repeatedly rejected by Parliament. Snegur was finally defeated in the presidential elections of November-December 1996 (in which he obtained only 45.9 % of the votes) which led to the presidency of the Republic P. Luchinsky (winner with 54.7 % of the votes),- 91 and President of the Parliament since 1994. I. Ciubuc, an independent economist, was appointed prime minister in January 1997, being confirmed at the head of the government even after the Communists’ victory in the general elections of March 1998. Banned in August 1991 and legalized again in 1994, with 30 % of the votes the Communist Party returned with the new consultations to be the main political force in the country, while the Agrarian Party saw its votes collapse at 3, 7 %. In February 1999 however, following the divisions that emerged within the executive, Ciubuc was forced to resign and was replaced by I. Sturza. However, the political situation remained tense and in December a new government was formed led by D. Barghis.
Luchinsky’s election had given new impetus to negotiations with the representatives of Transnistria. In May 1997, despite the fact that the problem of the Russian military presence was not yet defined, the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the normalization of relations between Moldova and the secessionist region represented a significant step forward in the negotiations. In February 1998, a protocol on economic cooperation was signed, although the problem of the definitive status of Transnistria remained unresolved.