Bucharest and Chisinau in dilemma of national unity. Op-Ed by Anatol Țăranu



The state Republic of Moldova can become a European state only by becoming the second Romanian state. In the Moldovan identity formula, the Republic of Moldova can only be part of the “Russian world”, with all the civilizational consequences of this geopolitical metamorphosis...


Anatol Țăranu

The Republic of Moldova is often spoken of as an artificial state that appeared on the ruins of the Soviet Union and exists in the absence of a historical foundation. Being a state without identity and without social cohesion, one of the poorest and most undeveloped states on the European continent, without a strategic development project and without the own resources necessary for an autonomous governance system, the Republic of Moldova is depopulated at catastrophic rates, remaining assisted from outside throughout its existence.

If foreign assistance is interrupted...

It is obvious that if the foreign assistance is interrupted, the Moldovan state will experience a serious functioning crisis, reaching the limit of an economic and political collapse with a high probability of chaos. In the entire history of its existence after gaining independence in August 1991, a number of options for the survival of the Moldovan state failed consecutively. The alternation in power in Chisinau of forces from the left to the right, from the supporters of the pro-Russian orientation to the pro-European ones, practically nothing has changed as regards the transformation of the Republic of Moldova into a self-sufficient state, capable of supporting itself economically. The war in Ukraine, with the multiple crises it provoked, only came to emphasize even more trenchantly the characteristic of the Republic of Moldova as a state assisted from outside the country.

The current government considers the path of European integration can help overcome this state of affairs for Moldovan statehood, while the pro-Russian opposition pleads for Eurasian integration. At the same time, the PAS government presents the sovereigntist option as the only solution for the European integration of the Republic of Moldova, even if the reforms are stalling and the eradication of endemic corruption, the reform of the justice sector and public administration are rather declarative and serve the purpose of attracting more money from foreign donors. We must admit that almost four years of mandate of the current pro-European Maia Sandu - PAS government, which represents the option of the EU accession of the Republic of Moldova as a sovereign state, didn’t turn into a solidly dominant perception for the majority of Moldovan citizens, calling into question the irreversibility of the European development course.

Fundamental problem of Moldovan state

None of the political teams that had been in power in the Republic of Moldova since the declaring of Independence were able to identify precisely and comprehensively the cause of the Moldovan state’s unshakable anchoring in the area of stagnation and underdevelopment. For this reason, it was not possible to formulate and implement in practice a program to overcome the permanent crisis. And this happens at a time that the Romanians across the Prut witness, despite all the problems intrinsic to robust development, the most dynamic economic growth and the standard of living in Europe. Today, according to all the development parameters, from the economy to the level and standard of living, Romania exceeds several times the level of the Republic of Moldova.

The lack of social cohesion in choosing the model of civilizational development was the fundamental problem of the Moldovan state throughout the period of independence. Moldovan society is experiencing the drama of diffuse identity – a non-overcome legacy of the colonial period - in which denationalization through Russification was supplemented with policies of deconstruction of identity, with the imposition of an artificial Moldovan national identity on the majority ethnic group according to the interests of foreign invaders. Anti-Romanian Moldovenism became the main resource for the Romanian-Moldavian movement in Bessarabia and Transnistria, guaranteeing the separation of this territory and the majority ethnicity from its Romanian ethno-national historical space and its incorporation into the tsarist and Soviet empire.

Identity policy inherited from colonial empire

Even if politically the Republic of Moldova broke away from the colonial empire after the dissolution of the USSR by legally obtaining state independence, at the level of the collective mindset and the national identity of the majority ethnic group, this rupture did not occur. All the governments in the Republic of Moldova, in all the over thirty years of the state’s existence, had been Moldovan as an identity concept promoted at the level of state policies, replicating with varying intensity the identity policy inherited from the colonial empire. And this meant that the Romanian-Moldovans did not become true masters in the Republic of Moldova in their own home, continuing to experience a kind of inferiority complex towards the Russian-speakers as legitimate representatives of the former imperial nation that was dominant in the former empire. The most eloquent proof of this state of affairs is the stubbornness with which the non-native segments of Moldovan society ignore to learn the language of the natives, thus demonstrating the nostalgia for the restoration of the empire in which they were and dream again of becoming a dominant nation.

In this connection, we should remember that the culminating achievements of our national history occurred in favorable moments of international conjuncture through the effort of the visionary elites of Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania, brave and patriotic statesmen who were above all “Romanians”. Today we once again witness a moment of international conjuncture favorable to the cause of national reunification, when Russia, hostile to the Romanian national unity, got bogged down in the war in Ukraine. Hypothetically speaking, if Romania and the Republic of Moldova were currently able to organize fair referendums in both of the states on the restoration of national unity, which would be validated by the international community, Russia, which invokes the argument of the referendum in the occupied territories, Donbas, Luhansk and Crimea, would be unable to block the will of the Romanians on both banks of the Prut. The problem of the moment, however, lies not in the external factor, but in the reality that the population of the Republic of Moldova, which although it speaks mostly Romanian, due to historical particularities, but also to deficient state identity policies, continues to feel and think Russian.

Stagnation at slightly over half of Moldovans

For the time being, the current dominant political formula in Chisinau, self-styled “pro-European”, stagnates at the level of support of slightly over half of the number of Moldovan citizens, as polls show. By chance, the propaganda and the entire arsenal of the Kremlin’s hybrid war against the European course of the Republic of Moldova is focused on opposing Moldovenism to Romanianism. For Moscow, the geopolitical stake in the recapture of Moldova consists in the propaganda and amplification of anti-Romanian Moldovenism in society, the Romanian identity meaning the collapse of all hopes of bringing Moldova eastward the Prut to the “Russian world”.

Countering the Kremlin’s imperialist policies in the Republic of Moldova in a natural way is related to the evolution of the Moldovan state into the second Romanian state in terms of national identity and choice of civilization. The state Republic of Moldova can become a European state only by becoming the second Romanian state. In the Moldovan identity formula, the Republic of Moldova can only be part of the “Russian world”, with all the civilizational consequences of this geopolitical metamorphosis. But this truth seems to be misunderstood for the time being by the current pro-European government in Chisinau, which inexplicably continues to ignore the identity dichotomy Moldovenism – Romanianism in its policies.

This dilemma lies in the choice... 

Alongside Chisinau, Bucharest currently has to manage an enormous strategic, political and moral dilemma in relation to the Republic of Moldova. This dilemma consists in the choice between today’s political line of relatively passive waiting for the moment when the Romanian-Moldovans eastward the Prut will overwhelmingly assume the Romanian identity, the opposite line being to contribute through active policies to the growth and consolidation of the Romanian identity of the Republic of Moldova. An active policy of Romania in this direction would contribute to breaking the vicious circle in which Moldovan society has found itself for three decades, being unable to definitively break with the colonial past and the domination of the strongly eroded and deeply corrupt political class.

An active policy of the Romanian state on the identity dimension in Moldova eastward the Prut would mean, first of all, the assumption by the Romanian politicians of the duty to explain and affirm, in the view of its partners in the EU and the U.S., the Romanian character of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the historical right of the Romanians on both banks of the Prut to restore national unity. The achievement of a broad consensual support at the international level on the issue of restoring Romanian national unity will certainly produce a real earthquake in the Moldovan state and society, which are used to duplicity, false compromises, various tricks and small agreements. Today, more than ever, there is a need for a pronounced political visionarism in Bucharest and Chisinau, capable of definitively saving the Republic of Moldova from the revanchist aspirations of the so-called Russian world and of putting into practice the dream of the Romanians from both banks of the Prut River, regarding the achievement of national unity.

Anatol Țăranu
doctor of history, political commentator

IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.

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