Developments in Moldova

Published: 17 June 2009 Updated: 5 October 2015

Moldova is one of Europe's poorest countries. The conflict with Russia over the breakaway state of Transnistria affects the entire country's development.

Moldova is a parliamentary republic, where the president and Parliament share the executive. The country has since the beginning of the 2000’s been characterized by a polarization between pro-Russian parties and a coalition of more pro-EU parties. Moldova's Communist Party maintains a strong position and the party won a majority in parliamentary elections in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

The strong political polarization resulted made it impossible to agree on a new president and between 2009-2012 Moldova did not have a head of state. In 2015, after several years of political turbulence, it was finally possible for the independent businessman Chiril Gaburici to form a government with the support of the Liberal Democrats, Democrats and Communists.

Moldova's Constitution stipulates a free press and freedom of expression. In general human rights are respected and in 2006 Moldova abolished the death penalty. In 2012 Moldova adopted an anti-discrimination law. The law is an important step to promote tolerance, but Roma, LGBT people, Muslims and practitioners of religions other than the official are still frequently exposed to harassment.

Widespread Poverty

Moldova is one of Europe's poorest countries. In 2010, over a fifth of the population lived below the national poverty line. Moldova's population has decreased since independence in 1991, partly due to a negative population growth and partly as a result of emigration. Remittances sent by Moldovans abroad to their families back home account for about one third of the country's GDP and many families are completely dependent on the support.


Trafficking of women and girls from Moldova is a serious problem. The trade is organised by both Moldovan and international criminal gangs that sell women for prostitution abroad. Poverty and high unemployment in rural areas are underlying factors, contributing to trafficking. Women are also underrepresented in politics and in senior positions in government and industry.

EU integration

2014 Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU. The EU is Moldova's biggest aid donor and the support aims at, among other things, to strengthen the judicial sector, which is weak and characterized by extensive corruption. Another objective is to raise the technical competence and modernize the energy sector. Relations with the neighbouring EU member country Romania was long complicated but has now improved.

Business and Economy

Moldova's natural resources are insignificant. Minerals and other industrial raw materials have to be imported, as well as gas and oil, and the industry is poorly developed. However, Moldova, have fertile soils and a favourable climate for agriculture production. Nearly a third of the workforce can be found in the agriculture sector (2010).

Moldova's energy supply is to 90 per cent dependent on Russia. The supply of natural gas has repeatedly been used by Russia as a political weapon against Moldova's government.

In 2015 it was revealed that three of the country's biggest banks shortly before the election made payouts of approximately one billion dollars, equivalent to 15 per cent of the country's GDP. The money is believed to have ended up on the foreign accounts belonging to politicians and businessmen. The central bank granted the banks a loan of EUR 700 million and took control of their operations to save them from bankruptcy. Otherwise the whole banking system in Moldova could have crashed. The deal led to widespread protests against corruption. The payouts have not yet been recovered.  

The breakaway region of Transnistria

In Moldova, there are two autonomous regions, Gagauzia, which became an autonomous region through a Constitutional Amendment in 2003, and Transnistria (Dnestr). At the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Transnistria opposed Moldovan independence and wanted instead to create a separate Soviet republic. A short civil war took place before a ceasefire was agreed on. Today, a tri-lateral peace keeping force (Moldovan, Russian, Transnistria) monitors the borders. Moldova lacks the de facto control over the region, and no country has recognized Transnistria as an independent state.

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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