Author: Ghenadie Sontu
Moldova as a country, territory or political entity has undergone great changes in the past few centuries and has a long history of foreign domination; indeed, questions of territory and cultural identity have been at the core of its development as an independent Republic.
At the dawn of the 19th century, Moldova was a province of Romania. In 1812, it was annexed by Tsarist Russia until 1917, when Moldova first declared itself a Democratic Republic. This political status was short lived as the parliament (Sfatul Ţării, – the National Council) voted for unification with Romania just 4 months later – resulting in a 22-year period when the Moldovan language and culture became increasingly more Romanian and Western-oriented. In 1940, Soviet forces reoccupied the Region. Moldova remained part of the USSR until the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s.
As in other USSR Republics or Eastern European countries, cultural policy was a propaganda tool of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Moldova. The Ministry of Culture and several arts associations were, therefore, obliged to conform to the Party's ideology and to ensure that cultural policy and activities were carried out according to the Central Committee's instructions.
Writers, artists and the cultural elite were also engaged as propaganda agents. The Committee granted them certain benefits and privileges in return for their efforts to consolidate the ideology of the system in a "credible and accessible" manner (Lenin's slogan "art belongs to the people"). The totalitarian state controlled the process of creativity by valuing and rewarding works of "socialist realism" and rejecting a diversity of artistic approaches.
Arts associations were originally set up to monitor and promote artistic uniformity. As they became increasingly disparate and the composition of their membership was questioned, authorities set up three state Committees – for Publishing, Press and Radio-Television – to strictly monitor and censor the ideological content of literary and artistic works. They were also given the task of suppressing any expressions of affiliation to the Romanian language or culture. During the 47 years of Soviet occupation, Moldova was denied the right to their centuries-old common language, history and culture based on ancient, classical and contemporary Romanian traditions. The result was the disappearance of a distinct national culture during the period of Soviet Moldova. This fuelled a resistance and opposition to the ruling regime.
On August 27, 1991 the Republic of Moldova was declared an independent country. This historical event was precipitated by civil war. Public demands were made for official recognition of the Moldovan-Romanian linguistic identity, a return to the Latin alphabet, and the re-establishment of Romanian as the official language.
During the years 1991-2006, the main objectives of Moldovan cultural policies were:
- to ensure conditions to promote creative works by preserving existing national institutions and revising procedures to remunerate artists for their work;
- to protect the cultural heritage by improving the copyright system, supporting the publishing sector and developing archives;
- to promote human potential through a reform of staff policy in the public cultural administration;
- to support diverse cultural processes by identifying priorities and attracting human and material resources to realise these priorities;
- to re-focus cultural management towards new models and mechanisms; and
- to promote culture through electronic media and to create an integrated information space in the cultural field.
The most visible signs of change during this transition period were the freedom of speech, elimination of ideological censorship and development of legislation which has been modified to correspond with the rest of Europe. There are a large number of "good intentioned laws" in the Republic of Moldova, which have not yet been implemented or made viable on a practical level. Shallow reforms (too often understood as a simple reduction of funding) and the lack of a comprehensive cultural policy have also suspended the full implementation of cultural policy objectives.
During the communist governance, between 2001 – 2009, the results (performances) achieved with such a great effort were ruined one after another. Culture became again the most marginalised sphere, and all previously initiated projects degenerated into actions with a pronounced communist ideology.
The decentralisation process was suspended. The criterion of professionalism was replaced with the degree of servitude to power. Dozens of monuments and books were manufactured and published, with no historical or literary value, except for the glorification of the communist past.
The new ruling government, established in 2009, is a coalition of four parties with different social and cultural platforms. It was known from the beginning that this government is a transitional one, and will exist no longer than a year. Thus, the new ministries have not designed policies for the long or medium term.
Their only target was reanimating the country from the economic collapse and reinstating human rights and liberties, and the supremacy of the law.
From the cultural perspective, two new television stations appeared and a significant number of cultural events took place, which shows a great openness of the Moldovan culture toward the cultures of the world.
28 November 2010 was the day of the new parliamentary elections. These elections were particularly important, because they determined the path Moldova was to follow in the future.
However, the elections did not have the expected results. Although the governing coalition remained in power, the dissensions within the coalition have deepened, generating a prolonged political crisis. And, consequently, the announced reforms have been postponed, especially those in the field of justice, which are absolutely necessary for the future of Moldova.
On 29 November 2013, in the frames of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, the Republic of Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the European Union. This important and unprecedented agreement symbolises openness to cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union and provides formal commitments to the community forum and establishing a general framework of relations between the parties.
Subsequently, on 13 November 2014, the European Parliament ratified the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, which includes a deep and comprehensive trade agreement. The Agreement is the foundation for a stronger political association and economic integration between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, providing free reciprocal market access.
Chapter published: 11-03-2015