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Peace Education

Moldova Festival Bridges East and West

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The East-West dilemma in Moldovan foreign policy is a recurrent concern. Due to the near impossibility of defining clear priorities in the first years of independence and making a break from the old mentality, Moldova has been trapped in an interminable transition and identity crisis.

Hence, the solution which became ubiquitous was to try to reconcile Moldova's dependence on the East with its willingness to join the West. In the media, this has been compared to being in two boats at the same time.

The truth is that this dream of being in both worlds with their striking discrepancies cannot last indefinitely. Moldova has reached a moment when a choice has to be made. Nevertheless, the choice is not of being with one and denying the other; it is more of belonging to one while understanding the other.

People have advocated that Moldova do its best to join the European Union and serve as a bridge for understanding Russia and doing business with it. In her Constitution, the Republic of Moldova defines itself as a neutral state, like other European states such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria.

This “identity crisis” is one of the primary reasons why the peace festival in the capital of Moldova, the city of Chisinau, was so successful.

The main event coincided with the celebration of the National Day of Youth on November 9, and the pre-program was ignited by the enthusiasm of young performers from the best educational institutions. Youth of every age, from preschool and primary school ballerinas, to middle-school students presenting regional folk dances, to the Osoianu Sisters (who are five sisters and their daughters), created a family atmosphere in the overflow audience of people of all ages in the Leogrand Convention Center.

The more than one thousand guests responded to the Peace Message delivered by Dr. Katsumi Ohtsuka, Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation of Eurasia, with frequent applause. The message that encouraged Moldovans to take up vision to build “One Family under God” in the region resonates with Moldova’s spiritual traditions. Based upon such values as friendship, compassion, kindness, belief in God, and helping your neighbor, people of more than 20 ethnicities and nationalities are living together in peace and harmony here.

In order to identify and celebrate the ongoing efforts of outstanding individuals and organizations who are contributing to human development and promoting a culture of peace and service, 250 NGOs in Moldova were surveyed. The advisory committee reviewed the results of the survey and narrowed the finalists down to 25. But it was a very difficult decision to select the most outstanding organizations in the following four categories:

  • Family and education: Sperantsa (meaning hope) for its innovative leadership in rehabilitation and integration of special needs children into school and society.
  • Peacebuilding: the Moldova World Children’s Fund, founded by two former adversaries, a Soviet-officer and a US Navy captain, for its devotion to improving the lives of Moldovan children for more than a decade.
  • Sustainable economic development: New Perspectives for Women, a project implemented by USAID and WINROCK Int., for fighting against the devastating effects of human trafficking by providing training
    for young women ages 16-24 from rural areas who are socially and economically vulnerable. These women benefit from entrepreneurial opportunities that have resulted in the creation of over 200 new jobs.
  • Media for peace: a posthumous award to Victor Mocanu for his untiring efforts to improve the lives of the people in his community by discussing important issues, finding solutions, and bringing them to the public through a small radio station, Radio Syngera, that he founded and developed.

The hundreds of distinguished guests in attendance were serenaded by the brightest stars of the Moldovan pop music scene. The renowned performing artists, Nellie Ciobanu and Natalia Barbu (Moldova’s representative to Eurovision 2007), brought the message of peace home in the language of the heart, music.

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