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CHISINAU, May 01. /ITAR-TASS/. Moldovans celebrated May Day with rallies in support of accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.The opposition communist and socialist parties took thousands of people to streets in Chisinau, the capital of the country, under this motto. “We are for integration with Russia and see the future of our country in the Customs Union, because the agreements imposed upon Chisinau by Brussels are disadvantageous,” former Deputy Prime Minister Igor Dodon said.
He believes that this question has been raised now because Moldova is at a crossroads and should make its choice that will be critical for its future. “We can’t sit in two chairs at once. Look at what is happening in neighboring Ukraine. If the authorities keep dividing the country into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and limit the use of the Russian language, we will face the same plight,” Dodon said and urged all left-wing parties to unite under these ideas.
The leaders of Moldova’s largest Party of Communists, which has more than one-third of seats in the national parliament, also spoke of the risk of divisions in society.
“The modernization of the country in the European way is a normal process, but look at where our main markets are and where our people work - all this must be taken into account before we sign an association agreement with the EU and a free trade agreement,” party leader and former President Vladimir Voronin said.
Moldova has initialed the association and free trade area agreements with the EU, and is hoping to sign them in August. Parliamentary elections are to be held in Moldova at the end of this year and observers have noted the dwindling ratings of the parties that call for breaking up ties in the east. A public opinion poll, the results of which were published last week, indicates that over 60% of respondents in Moldova link their future with Russia, while integration with the European Union is supported by 39%
This marks a significant change in people’s attitude towards the Customs Union and the European Union. A poll conducted a year ago showed that 52.1% of people would have voted for accession to the Customs Union and 23% would have voted against it. Integration with the EU would have been supported by 50.3% and 30% would have opposed it.
The latest sociological polls indicate that the number of people who support Moldova's accession to the Common Economic Space is growing, as is the number of those who become increasingly skeptical about the country's admission to the European Union.
According to a public opinion poll conducted by Moldova’s Public Policy Institute in late 2012, 57% of respondents supported the country’s accession to the Common Economic Space, 20% were against it, and the rest were undecided.
At the same time, 53% of those polled spoke in favor of integration with the European Union and 30% spoke against it.
In a referendum held in Gagauzia, an autonomy within Moldova, in February 2014, the overwhelming majority of voters showed their preference for accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia over integration with the European Union.
The referendum on February 2 showed record high activity of voters: more than 70.4% of people eligible to vote went to the polls. According to the results, 98.4% supported integration into the Customs Union, with 1.5% having voted against it; 2.5% supported accession to the EU and 97.4% were against it, CEC Chair Valentina Lisnik said.
She said 98.8% of people had supported the idea of “deferred status of autonomy,” which gives Gagauzia the right to self-determination if Moldova loses independence.
The Moldovan authorities consider the referendum in Gagauzia unlawful, saying that “the country’s foreign policy is not within the jurisdiction of the local authorities.”
However, Gagauzia’s leader Mikhail Formuzal hopes that its results will influence Chisinau’s dialogue with regions.
“The EU, which the Moldovan leadership seeks to join, has the practice of holding referendums even on less important issues. Our authorities did not ask people’s opinion about independence, foreign policy, language, Transdniestrian settlement or any other vital issue. The plebiscite in Gagauzia showed that there is a large gap between declarations made by the leadership of the republic and real life on the ground. I hope that now the opinion of the people will be respected, and we will start building a truly democratic state,” Formuzal told ITAR-TASS.
The Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia came into existence on January 1, 2010. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia are to go on with economic integration and vowed to remove all customs borders between each other after July 2011. It is separate from the Eurasian Union.