The Republic of Moldova – a country between the Soviet past and a possible future in the European Union, which gained international political attention with the Transnistrian conflict and which has a special significance in the Ukraine conflict.
By entering the Republic of Moldova, we are once again leaving the European Union. When Ukraine applied for EU membership in the wake of Russia’s war of aggression, Moldova followed shortly thereafter. Since June 23, 2022, the country has been officially granted candidate status. Currently, 2.6 million Moldovans live in Europe’s poorest country, with over half a million Ukrainians having crossed the border into Moldova in recent months, fleeing the war. Many have remained here.
The region in Eastern Europe has had a turbulent history in which it has repeatedly been a pawn in the interests of various great powers. From 1940 to 1991 it belonged to the Soviet Union, and in 1991 Moldova officially declared its independence. The fear that Russia would lay claim to the region became more present than ever with the invasion of Ukraine. The country’s simmering conflicts between pro-Russian and pro-European forces were reignited in the process.
We travel across the countryside through small villages and agricultural deserts badly affected by the heat from Iaşi toward Chişinău. The seemingly endless sunflower fields have withered. The villages seem almost deserted, except for the melon vendors on the side of the road. It is quite different in Chişinău, where life pulsates with almost 700,000 inhabitants. The city itself, however, always seems a bit out of time – which is mainly due to the omnipresent apartment blocks.
Text: Tobias Schwessinger & Christian Faludi
Photos: Christian Faludi