While Moldova’s eastern neighbour Ukraine can be identified in historical records from as far back as 9th century, the Principality of Moldova is somewhat younger having been established in the 1350s. The former Black Sea region of Moldova was probably Greek governed back in the 6th Century BC, Roman in the 1st Century AD; with the Slavs entering the picture around about the 6th; the whole region was certainly occupied by the Mongols in the 13th Century. During the 15th century the southern Black Sea area of Bessarabia, having been occupied by Turks in 1484, joined the Principality of Moldova. The region has certainly had a chequered and challenging history, with the Russians occupying Moldavia numerous times between 1711 and 1812, even so much remained under Turkish control until the 19th Century when Moldova came under full Russian control until the 1914-1918 Great War. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917 the council of “sfatul țărei” in 1918 declared independence, with Moldova uniting with Romania later that same year.
In 1939, even as the ink dried on the disastrous Ribentrop-Molotov German-Soviet non-aggression Pact, Stalin sent his troops in and re-occupied the region, in so doing establishing the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic [SSR]; transferring from Romania the former Moldovan Black Sea coastal region, the Budjak Peninsula, and giving that to Ukraine; while also transferring from Ukraine to Moldova the Moldavian Autonomous SSR, a narrow strip of land along the eastern bank of the Dniester river – an area perhaps better known today as ‘Transnistria’.
While during the 2nd World War Romania took on the governance of Moldova, the Soviet Union retook over-all control in 1944. In 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moldova once again declared independence. However, the population of the Transnistria region were unhappy, with the majority Russian speaking populace of the “Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic” wishing to remain part of the former Soviet Union. Fearing Moldova might seek re-unification with Romania, civil war broke out. The 1992 ceasefire holds, and it is overseen by three partners – Russia, Moldova, and Transnistria. Under the terms of the ceasefire, the republic maintains its own government, parliament, military, police, and currency – with members of the former Soviet 14th Army staying on in a “peace-keeper” role.
Today, the European Union has an increasingly close relationship with Moldova, going beyond mere cooperation, but there are numerous challenges to Moldova ever joining the Union. Apart from Moldova being so very, very poor, the nature of the breakaway republic of Transnistria would be seen as a major hurdle for Moldova to ever be considered as a potential member.