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Moldova "The Cuba of Eastern Europe," Says Opposition Leader

(Washington--February 21, 2003) Moldova has been headed in the wrong direction -- politically, economically and socially -- since the election of Communist leader Vladimir Voronin in 2001. That was the message delivered by Iurie Rosca, head of the largest pro-democracy opposition party in Moldova, the Christian Democratic People's Party, at an RFE/RL briefing on February 14. Since the rise to power of the Communists, Rosca's party was, for a time, banned and he himself has been threatened with the lifting of parliamentary immunity.

Rosca called Voronin's foreign policy "neo-Soviet" for drawing the country too close to Russia. He criticized the regime for trying to russify the country's ethnic minorities and described Moldova's ethnic Russian Transdniester enclave as a "Stalinist theme park" whose economy was sustained by investment from Russian Big Business. Meanwhile, Rosca said that the Voronin government was attempting to "re-communize" Moldova by undermining the nation's institutions and the rule of law. These developments, in addition to a large emigration of young people, threaten to make Moldova a failed state.

Despite these problems and Moldova's geographic isolation, Rosca said his country "still matters." Along with Belarus, Moldova was one of only two dictatorships left on the Continent. It is a test case for the survival of democracy in Russia -- if democracy cannot survive in the former Soviet space, he added, it cannot survive in Russia itself.

Rosca offered his party's platform as a remedy for Moldova's ills. That program calls for his country’s entry into NATO and the EU, as well as the strengthening of the rule of law and the rights of ethnic minorities. Rosca said that he wanted to do for Moldova, what "Mart Laar did for Estonia and Zoran Djindjic did for Serbia."