Escape from Moscow

Communism’s fall gave the nations of the former Soviet bloc a chance to turn towards democracy, a market economy, and the rule of law. Some countries cut ties decisively with the communist past; others were less successful, a few failed catastrophically.

Moldova and Georgia were in the last category until recently. Their economic and political failures were in large part due to secessionist movements – actively supported by Russia – that aimed at keeping both countries in the Kremlin’s “sphere of influence.” When bloody conflicts erupted in Transdnistria, Abkhazia, and South-Ossetia, Russia turned its military presence into “peace-keeping” forces as a means of maintaining control.

It has long been feared that these so-called “frozen conflicts” could suddenly turn hot. Not only has this not happened, but we can now talk of solutions, as both Georgia and Moldova have begun to achieve breakthroughs to a market economy and democracy. The European Union’s “neighborhood policy” has also helped.

The starting point for these developments was Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” three years ago. From coming perilously close to being a failed state, Georgia has turned towards the West. The success of the various “color revolutions” in former Soviet-bloc countries also ignited change in Moldova, where President Vladimir Voronin launched reforms aimed at moving closer to the EU. These changes sparked new initiatives in Georgia and in Moldova to restore, peacefully, their territorial integrity.