How does Romanian function as an instrument for harmonizing social relations in Moldova? IPN debate


It has been 33 years since the adoption of the linguistic legislation but the Romanian language theme continues being topical. The citizens of the Republic of Moldova should know the Romanian language, while the country’s administration and its leaders should ensure the language is studied. Such statements were made by experts invited to IPN’s public debate “How does the Romanian language function as an instrument for harmonizing the social relations in the Republic of Moldova? The authorities’ role and citizens’ expectations in this process”.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said the social relations represent interaction between individuals based on personal or social goals, interests. These can be of different length but are aimed at solving particular problems. “But the relations between social subjects concerning equality, social justice, distribution of goods, conditions of formation and development of the individual, satisfaction of the material, social and spiritual needs represent social relations indeed and these relations develop normally in the Republic of Moldova way and are determined by history, space and time,” explained Igor Boțan.

According to him, the official language helps integrate into a country, the political, social, economic and cultural spheres, acting as a symbol of this state. The texts of laws, administrative documents, education, science, mass information are usually in the official language or mainly in the official language and also in other languages that are officially used in a state. In Moldova, the relevant legal framework is rather developed. The first document, the law on the functioning of languages spoken on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, was adopted on September 1, 1989. Under this law, the Moldovan language, which is equal to the Romanian language, is the official language. But the state also undertook to protect Russian and the languages of other ethnic communities of the state.

The governor of Gagauzia Irina Vlah said that a lot has been said about knowledge of the Romanian language, the correctness of the spoken language but one should start from the question, what did the state for the citizens of this country to know the Romanian language? On August 27, it was celebrated the 31st anniversary of the declaring of Independence and particular conclusions can be drawn at this stage. “We can say that the state did nothing for each citizen to know the Romanian and other languages. What do we have now in society? We have division, conflicts, economic and social problems. What do our children hear on TV, from other media? Only attacks on the part of politicians,” noted the Bashkan, saying the politicians do not speak about the future of the country and this is a big problem.

The governor said the state didn’t do much to make sure the young people study Romanian. Only those who intend to stay in Moldova find resources and study the Romanian language independently. The government is obliged to ensure conditions for studying the Romanian language. “Test a Russia-speaking child from any region of the country to see their knowledge of Romanian. These probably known only some simple words. We must speak about programs that should be implemented in educational institutions. It is a problem of the whole society when the issue of official language becomes a subject of dispute accompanied by aggression,” stated Irina Vlah. According to her, any known language is an opportunity.

TV presenter Lilia Burakovski said there are also other examples. Her child studied Russian at the lyceum for 12 years and now studies in Romanian at the university. Everything depends on the attitude to the language in the family, where everything starts. It also depends on teachers and less on the state. There are no communication problems between children who speak different languages. Problems appear only when a grownup intervenes.

The journalist noted that the last polls revealed that one third of the population prefers TV programs, websites in Russia and this shows that these consumers of information do not know Romanian. The state should intervene here and play its role.

According to Lilia Burakovski, she earlier considered that the state didn’t do anything for the people to study Romanian but now sees concrete steps taken in this regard – the Romanian language teaching curriculum fro lyceum changed. “As long as the name of the language and the official language are used by the politicians as a political instrument, tensions and speculations, artificial cultural, social, linguistic problems that are not at all political exist,” stated Lilia Burakovski.

Philologist Alexei Axan, an experienced teacher teaching Romanian to other-language speakers, said the topic of the debate is primarily important for the government, for the local authorities that deal with the harmonization of ethnic relations, the studying of Romanian and other languages. For example, the Romanian and Gagauz languages can be studied in parallel.

“The subject is also important for opinion leaders, for journalists who should adopt a clear stance on the given issue. For example, does the population help or not when the necessity of studying the Romanian language is discussed? I would like the politicians to become involved less in this regard as they always only worsen the situation,” stated Alexei Axan, who produced textbooks and other teaching aids for studying Romanian. He also said that Irina Vlah’s command of Romanian is exemplary and her effort to learn Romanian is an example.

The public debate entitled “How does the Romanian language function as an instrument for harmonizing the social relations in the Republic of Moldova? The authorities’ role and citizens’ expectations in this process” was the 261st installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.