Potential change of official language in Moldova sparks heated discussion in country
Penza, 28 November 2017. PenzaNews. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria) is not going to negotiate reintegration with Moldova and refused to recognize Romanian as official language. This was stated by the leader of Transnistria Vadim Krasnoselsky just before “5+2” talks in Vienna, where Moldova and Transnistria are the parties to the conversation, Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE are mediators, and the EU and the US are observers.
“Our state is called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. This is the territory where the Moldovan ethnos, culture and writing are preserved. Ultimately I am the president of Moldovans. After all, everything comes from the language, so if it were not for Transnistria, there would not already be Moldovans on the world map. And the fact that Moldova is putting pressure on this burning question is unfair, unpromising and wrong. But this is their choice. However, of course, such things move us away from solving the Transnistrian issue. It turns out that they speak Romanian, and we – Moldovan. They themselves show that we are different,” the head of the unrecognized republic told Izvestia.
Earlier, commenting on a positive conclusion of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova on the legislative initiative of a group of parliamentarians to change in the Constitution text the name of the country's official language from “Moldovan” into “Romanian,” Moldovan President Igor Dodon stressed that this issue can be discussed only with the participation of all citizens.
“The overwhelming majority of the indigenous population of the Republic of Moldova believes that they speak the Moldovan language. If someone, from where and whoever he is, doubts this, we can organize a referendum, during which we will ask citizens what language they prefer – Romanian or Moldovan,” Moldovan President said.
He also reminded that the name “Moldovan language” has been used in the country for centuries, being “a fundamental element of identity and the cultural matrix of Moldovans,” which is evidenced by the Constitution, census data, and medieval archival documents.
“Some politicians of the right flank as well as judges of the Constitutional Court behave like patrons from abroad who are pursuing the goal of bringing the Supreme Law of the country in line with the Unionist project for the subsequent liquidation of the Moldovan statehood,” Igor Dodon said.
Analyzing the current situation, many analysts express the opinion that the decision of the Constitutional Court of the republic can seriously undermine stability within the country, exacerbating the split among representatives of political circles and civil society.
For instance, Alexander Rahr, Research Director of the German-Russian Forum, negatively assessed the domestic political atmosphere in the country.
“It's just terrible, what [happens] in Moldova. Liberals are dragging people through Romania to the West,” the expert briefly told PenzaNews.
In turn, Anatoly Dirun, Scientific Leader, Tiraspol School of Political Studies, noted that all domestic political developments in the republic are somehow connected with the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2018.
“Elections to the highest legislative body are of key importance for the country. According to the polls, the Socialist Party headed by President Igor Dodon is the leader today. However, it is extremely naive to believe that the political opponents represented by the parties Action and Solidarity and Dignity and Truth Platform will simply repose power in hands of the Socialist Party, which stands for a strategic alliance with Russia. In addition, the Democratic Party, which controls today the entire political field in Moldova, undoubtedly has its own views on the formation of a new controlled parliamentary majority,” the political scientist said.
He also stressed that the unstable situation creates objective preconditions for further strengthening of Romanian influence in Moldova.
“In 2018 they will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great Union, the unification of Bessarabia and Romania. In this regard, the forthcoming elections in 2018 will have a fateful significance in many respects and can determine Chisinau’s development vector for the long term,” Anatoly Dirun said.
Commenting on the legislative initiative to change the constitution regarding the name of Moldova’s state language, he recalled that “the Constitutional Court has ensured continuity regarding this issue since 2013, when it was decided that the Declaration on the Independence of Moldova, in which the state language is called Romanian, prevails over the constitution, about the Moldovan language.”
At the same time, the expert stressed that to solve this problem the population of the country has to express their civil position actively.
“Today it’s time for the citizens of Moldova to decide which language they consider native, state, and support or oppose this initiative. This issue is a test of the ability of Moldovan society to defend their own statehood or become part of another political project,” the Moldovan analyst said.
At the same time, some foreign observers do not attach much importance to the question of changing the name of the state language in Moldova. For example, Michael Emerson, associate senior research fellow at Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), former Ambassador of the EU to Russia, said that he does not see any problem in the current situation.
“Moldovan and Romanian languages are the same and one, so this is a non- issue,” he explained.
Knut Fleckenstein, Member of the European Parliament, member of the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee, shared a similar opinion, stressing that changes can be made only with respect to the name of the language.
“People in Moldova still speak the same language as before. Whether the official name of Moldova's official language is Moldovan or Romanian does not make any difference regarding the language. I don’t see in how far such a decision could undermine the stability of the country. As I said: there has been no change in the country's official language,” the MEP said.
Meanwhile, in his opinion, the republic is simultaneously involved in many reforms.
“Moldova is still entangled in its political and economic transformation process which will hopefully lead to a better life for its citizens soon. The country needs stable and democratic institutions that are capable of delivering effective services to the citizens. It also needs economic growth, more and better jobs and reliable social protection,” Knut Fleckenstein said.
At the same time, the fight against corruption is crucial for re-establishing people's trust in the state institutions and its representative, he stressed.
In turn, Jiri Mastalka, European Parliament deputy (GUE/NGL) for the Czech Republic, member of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, said that Moldova is in a very difficult situation.
“Due to historical reasons there are strong ties, and not only economic, with Russian federation. On the other hand, the EU with its ambiguous language somehow promised or at least give hope to Moldova to become EU member and supports the country with macro-financial aid regularly. There are of course strong historical and political ties with its western neighbor and EU member, Romania,” the politician reminded.
According to him, the situation is greatly complicated “by the extreme level of corruption.”
“There have been several developments in Moldova which attracted my attention recently, like trial against Grigory Petrenko and his group, the new procedure of President’s election or the recent ruling on the Moldova’s Constitutional Court on the change of the name of the official language from Moldovan to Romanian,” Jiri Mastalka said.
At the same time, he stressed that he does not feel himself “competent” to comment in detail on internal issues of any state, Moldova included.
“Our imminent interest must be to help the poorest country in Europe so that its population of some three million can live in safe and prosperous country and not to create other international tensions. I am strongly against creating of another ‘Ukraine’ in Europe,” the MEP concluded.
On 31October 2017, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova delivered a positive opinion on the bill of the deputies of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova fraction on introducing an amendment to the Constitution of the country, which changes the name of the official language from Moldovan to Romanian. It will come into force if two-thirds of the deputies vote for it in the 101-seat parliament of the republic.