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Igor Dodon’s Past Support for Irredentism Against Ukraine

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This opinion piece was written by Dr. Ionas Aurelian Rus, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (USA). The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

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Moldova’s president, the former leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova  and former Communist politician and Moldovan government minister Igor Dodon (2006-2009), who assumed office on December 23, 2016, has a background of having made public statements in favor of a territorial enlargement of Moldova at the expense of Ukraine. He has also semi-officially recognized Crimea as a part of Russia. Dodon has been far from the only leftist, pro-Russian public figure from the Republic of Moldova to want a larger Moldova at the expense of a smaller Ukraine. Indeed, the history textbooks that the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, which ruled the country in 2001-2009, introduced included similar ideas.
Several years after he departed the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova and became the leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova in 2011, Dodon made one such statement. As one may see in the Romanian-language article and recording of Dodon, he made some irredentist statements in the studios of Unimedia in the Republic of Moldova on March 19, 2014. This occurred soon after the occupation of Crimea by Putin’s Russia, which is referenced in the taped recording.
Dodon first said, “Let us not forget that, in the year 1940, illegally, certain territories of the Republic of Moldova were excluded from its composition, and were artificially united with another state. I will not reveal (this), but the people understand very well. I don’t think…” Then Ms. Robu asked him, “Please tell me to what you are referring more exactly.” Dodon then added, “I think that the people understand very well [that I am] referring to the south and the north of the Republic of Moldova. And thus, why not, under these circumstances, and after a precedent has already been created. There is already a precedent. After the Crimea precedent, why shouldn’t we think about this thing in relation to the territories that were historically, for hundreds of years, a part of the Republic of Moldova?” The reporter asked him, “Therefore, are you referring to Chernivtsi, to Bukovina?” Dodon added, “I am referring to the historical south and the historical north of Moldova.” The reporter asked, “From whom should we demand it?” Dodon answered, “And your next question was?” The reporter continued, “No, I asked you from whom we should demand these…” Dodon added, “I expressed my opinion. Elena, I expressed my opinion very clearly”. Elena added, “You told me…” Dodon: “The message…” Elena: “You expressed it half-way.” Dodon: “The message for those who wish to understand it was understood very well by them.” Elena: “But for those who have not understood it?” Dodon: “Those who have not understood it will come to us, to courses, to hours (i.e., classes), and we will explain it to them so that they would understand.”
The northern and southern parts of historical Bessarabia were not assigned to the Republic of Moldova after the occupation of the Romanian province of Bessarabia by the Soviet Union in 1940, but to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Dodon is referring to these areas. The ethnic Ukrainians were, and are, a majority in northern Bessarabia, and a plurality in southern Bessarabia, and overall more numerous than the Moldovans/Romanians. In exchange, a part of the Moldovan (Moldavian) Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1924-1940) in Ukraine, the area in which the Moldovans were a plurality, was assigned to Soviet Moldova in 1940. It is called Transnistria, and it broadly overlaps with the Russian-sponsored secessionist area of Transnistria in the eastern part of the Republic of Moldova. “The Crimea precedent” refers to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Dodon also stated that Crimea was, and should be, a part of Russia on several occasions. UNIAN has reported on one of them. ‘Dodon made such a statement on air during a joint meeting with the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, Marian Lupu. “The question, on which our viewer, your friend Andrey Bashtannik insisted, is an issue that is crucial for him – to whom does Crimea belong?” the TV presenter asked Dodon. “Russian Federation,” Dodon said. “That is, in your understanding…” the presenter went on to ask a clarifying question. “You heard me,” Dodon said, interrupting the reporter.’ Lupu disagreed with him. Dodon’s attitude provoked his opponent in the presidential elections runoff, the Harvard-educated, pro-Western Maia Sandu (who won 47.89% of the votes in the second round, as opposed to Dodon’s 52.11%, with thousands of votes obtained by the Dodon camp through fraud) to accuse him of “high treason”. ‘”My opinion is unambiguous. Crimea is part of Ukraine, occupied by the Russian Federation in violation of international legal norms,” she said in the interview this week.’ ‘”To confirm that Crimea is part of Russia is a form of high treason, especially given the conditions that we find ourselves, the Republic of Moldova, in where there is an occupied region that is controlled by a separatist regime,” she told RFE/RL. Her comment was obviously in reference to the parallels between the Russian occupation of Crimea with Transnistrian secessionism.
One might say that perhaps Dodon did not “really” mean all of these things. Yet one has to look at the vehemence with which he was making those statements, including in the Unimedia studio. One does not need to understand Romanian to observe that. Of course, those statements were only made in the Romanian language. He avoided saying this in Russian, which would have allowed the members of Moldova’s Ukrainian minority, who voted overwhelmingly for him for president, to understand what he said and abstain from voting.
Dodon has not been the only Moldovan public figure with irredentist aspirations against Moldova. The homo sovieticus Communists and Socialists in Moldova have often tended to think along the same lines.
One should note that the history textbooks that the Communists introduced in 2006 while in power had similar claims against Ukraine. They were replaced by the pro-European regime in 2009-2010. The year 2006 was the time when, after two years of conflict with Putin’s Russia, the Communist leader and president of Moldova Vladimir Voronin started to return to the Russian sphere of influence. During the same year, Dodon became a member of the Moldovan cabinet. Among other things, one of the textbooks states, “However, the democratic principles of equality were not respected by the union authorities. In the territory of the Moldovan SSR were included only 6 counties of the former Bessarabia and only 6 rayons of the former M.A.S.S.R. (Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic – Ionas Rus). Thus, the space of historical Moldova, the counties of Cetatea Alba, Ismail and Hotin were arbitrarily given to the Ukrainian S.S.R.” The source is Sergiu Nazaria, Alexandru Roman, Mihai Sprinceana, Ludmila Barbus, Sergiu Albu-Machedon, Anton Dumbrava, Istorie: Epoca Contemporana, Manual pentru clasa a IX-a (which in English would be translated as “History: The Contemporary Period, Textbook for the Ninth Grade”) (Chisinau: Ministerul Educatiei si Tineretului al Republicii Moldova, 2006) (translated as “Chisinau: The Ministry of Education and Youth of the Republic of Moldova, 2006), p. 58. Needless to say, the Communist and Communistoid authors who expected the Stalinist regime to follow “the democratic principles of equality” did minimize Stalin’s crimes in other parts of the textbook, which included a surprising amount of propaganda. Yet they sometimes disagreed with the policies of the Soviet regime that were inconvenient much more recently to the homo sovieticus world and contemporary Russia. Dodon is far from the only Moldovan leftist, pro-Russian public figure with territorial aspirations against Ukraine.
In conclusion, Igor Dodon, the president of Moldova, and former leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova and former Communist politician and cabinet minister, has openly claimed Ukrainian territories for Moldova. This parallels his semi-official recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia. Dodon has been far from the only leftist from the Republic of Moldova to claim territories from Ukraine. The Communist history textbooks in use in Moldova between 2006 and 2009/2010 included similar ideas.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

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Transnistrian Minister of Foreign Affairs: There were many delusions that the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria is very easy to resolve

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The head of the Transnistrian diplomatic mission told about what is slowing down the negotiation process.

The First Transnistrian TV channel took an interview from the Transnistrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vitaly Ignatiev, who claims that the Transnistrian side is trying to focus on concrete matters, on a specific agenda within the conflict negotiation process.

Ignatiev drew attention to the fact that the position of President Vadim Krasnoselsky, who previously declared that it makes no sense to meet with Moldovan counterparts without a specific agenda, is connected with this.

According to him, over the years of the negotiation formats on the Moldovan-Transnistrian settlement, various visions, plans or approaches that took place, there were many delusions that the conflict was very easy to resolve.

However, the Transnistrian diplomat refuses to recognize Transnistria as part of Moldova.

“We have absolutely legitimate international legal, historical grounds for recognizing the independence of Transnistria. We have a generation of Transnistrians who have not lived a single day in the Soviet Moldova. Any settlement should be based on the will of the people. We rely on the will of the population, which has already determined its fate within referendums,” the minister added.

He stated that Transnistria lives in accordance with its Constitution, and Moldova, in turn, lives within its legislative space.

“There is not a single signal about the eagerness of the Moldovan authorities to deal with these issues seriously, although there are a lot of statements about the issue. Sometimes these statements create an unnecessary background and interfere with the dialogue,” the diplomat concluded.

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Opinion

How critical is the upcoming European Parliament resolution on Moldova?

For the first time, the name “Plahotniuc” will be mentioned in an official act of the European Parliament. Possibly, soon enough that will close his door as a politician.

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According to cprmd, the upcoming European Parliament resolution on Moldova, on November 13-14, 2018, should be more critical.

After a draft report on the implementation of the European Union association agreement with Moldova was submitted on July 19, 2018, by MEP Petras Auštrevičius to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, amendments were tabled by diverse MEPs in the Committee on September 11, 2018. Moreover, the Committee has further approved its report on the basis of the Rapporteur’s draft report and of the amendments.

Nevertheless, some of the measures proposed initially oppose us as an attempt to hide the real problems Moldova is dealing with and tone down the justified evaluation of the recent democratic downslide of our country under the present government.

According to cprmd, the content of some draft amendments may designate that their authors have deviated from their declared objective of supporting Moldova and are devoting their efforts to helping the present regime withstand. Under the pretext of “keeping Moldova in the EU’s orbit”, corruption, crimes, injustice, and state capture are permitted.

There is no explanation for the increasing attack on the Moldovan democracy and the constant violation of human rights by the current government. The Moldovan authorities declared themselves pro-European though ceased almost irreversible to authoritarian reflexes: cancellation of the results of the mayoral elections, limitation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, obstruction of the right to access to information, suspicious arrests of opposition activists. This way of governing is kicking our country further from the EU.

On the other hand, the Moldovan people are grateful to the European Parliament for not dismissing the harsh reality of Moldova and address openly about the 27-year-old country’s problems.

The European Union has invested over a billion euros in the last ten years alone in order to develop the Moldovan democracy and reforms, yet it always risks to be compromised.

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Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Romania at the end of 2018: More Challenges for the United States

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This opinion piece was written by Dr. Nicholas Dima. Dr. Dima was formerly a Professor of Geography and Geopolitics at Djibouti University, St. Mary’s University College and James Madison University. From 1975 to 1985 and from 1989 to 2001, Dr. Dima was a Writer and Field Reporter at Voice of America. The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

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Two important events are occurring currently in Eastern Europe and they could shape the future of the region and challenge U.S. national security interests. First, a quasi-religious war is shaking the Orthodox Church that may have consequences similar to the great schism which split Christendom in 1044. Second, Romania feels threatened by Russia and is strengthening its alliance with America. Moscow is wary of both evolutions.

After the Russo-Ukrainian war of 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea, the conflict between the two countries has been largely frozen. Yet, it has continued to simmer inside Ukraine and is now about to explode in the open. And this time the conflict is spiritual and involves the Orthodox Church.

Most Orthodox Churches are autocephalous (self-governing) and are led by national patriarchs. In turn, they are under the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople, who is considered primus inter pares. Ukraine, however, the second largest Orthodox Church, has never received autocephaly from Constantinople. Historically, Russia, which is the largest Orthodox Church, exercised leadership over all the orthodox people in the east, including Ukrainians and Belarusians. As long as Russia controlled the land, it also assumed spiritual control of the people through the Russian church headquartered in Moscow.

Currently, the Universal Orthodox Patriarchate led by Bartholomew I is about to grant autocephaly to Ukraine. This is dangerous for Moscow because it means an end to its spiritual control over the country and would also encroach greatly on Russia’s political role over the east. As Paul Goble, a researcher of the field, put it… autocephaly for Ukraine is a major defeat for both political and religious reasons… It represents the end of President Vladimir Putin’s dream of a ‘Russian World…’ (Eurasia Daily Monitor, October 16, 2018). In fact, Putin and Moscow were aiming at controlling the entire Orthodox world which extends from the Baltic to the Mediterranean seas. Ukrainian autocephaly would put a firm end to this goal. Besides losing Ukraine, Moscow also risks losing leverage over Belarus and over the ethnic Russian minorities in Moldova and other former Soviet republics.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which has always been an obedient arm of the government, reacted immediately. It broke relations with Constantinople and threatened to anathemize (excommunicate) the Universal Patriarchate. The answer of the Patriarchate was in kind and this marked the beginning of a new stage of a religious conflict. The canonical conflict would split deeply the Orthodox Church and would spill over into politics. Russia is already nervous, is threatening, and is becoming increasingly more aggressive.

The individual Eastern Orthodox Churches are divided on the issue. Canonically, they may align themselves with the Patriarch in Constantinople but politically is a different matter. The Armenians in the Caucasus and the Serbians and Bulgarians in south-east Europe will probably back Russia. That will isolate Romania, which is predominantly Orthodox but is overwhelmingly pro-Western. As for the Western reaction, Washington has already signaled that it will help Ukraine achieve autocephaly. The imminent canonical independence of the Kyiv church may lead to ethnic Russian riots in Ukraine and potentially to another military intervention. And a new conflict will be more widely spread than the previous one and may affect Romania directly.

Romania has canonical and territorial claims over Bessarabia and over other lands held now by Ukraine and Moldova. In the Republic of Moldova, like in Ukraine, the orthodox churches are split. Some belong to the Romanian Patriarchate in Bucharest and the others belong to Moscow. What will happen to the pro-Russian Moldovan churches if Ukraine acquires autocephaly?

On December 1 this year Romania marks one hundred years of modern independence, but instead of celebrating, it is worried about Russia. In the current confusion in the European Union, Bucharest is turning increasingly toward Washington for political, military, and geopolitical support. In fact, Romania is now one of the main pivots of U.S. policy in Eastern Europe. This is reflected in several bilateral treaties and accords. One such accord states:

Romania shares the U.S. commitment to transatlantic security, and fully supports endeavors to improve the effectiveness of NATO and strengthen its capabilities to address the current challenges… Thus, we are particularly appreciative to our U.S. ally for its strong political support and substantial contribution to projects such as the multinational brigade hosted by Romania, the enhanced maritime presence in the Black Sea or the Combined Joint Enhanced Training Program…’

The official statements stress that this year, besides celebrating the Romanian centennial, Bucharest also marks the 21st anniversary of the U.S.-Romanian Strategic Partnership. This treaty, signed in Washington in 1994, is considered a key factor in shaping Romania’s strategy as an American ally. Accordingly, Romanian and U.S. troops participated together on military missions in various operation areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Since its first deployment, the Romanian military contributed with more than 46,000 uniformed personnel and of these 34 were killed in action and 226 were wounded.

In addition, the United States built an important anti-missile base in southern Romania which is already operational and which has made Russia fume. A new conflict in Ukraine will also involve the current Republic of Moldova and will bring to the fore the old and unresolved question of Bessarabia…

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