Romanian interstate union: missed historical chance? Op-Ed by Anatol Țăranu



In times of profound crisis, caused by the Russian military aggression against our neighbor Ukraine, extraordinary measures to safeguard the state and the people should be taken in front of an existential war danger...


Anatol Țăranu

Recently, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, in an interview posted on the website of TF-1 and taken fragmentarily by RIA Novosti, revealed the Kremlin’s official version concerning the war in Ukraine: “We do what we are obliged to do: protect the people and protect the Russian language that has been discriminated and attacked directly by successive regimes in Ukraine, both under Poroshenko and under Zelensky. We protect Ukraine form Nazification that has taken place for many years, with the direct complicity of the West... That’s why our military operation was inevitable”.

More than gloomy perspective for the Republic of Moldova

From Lavrov’s statement, we can deduce that Russia has the right to discretionarily attack any country in which it arbitrarily suspects that the Russian language and the interests of the Russian speakers are discriminated. In such conditions, following the logic of the high-ranking Russian official, any state in which even a small community of Russian speakers lives automatically becomes a potential victim of the Russian military aggression. It is evident that this bellicose logic covers first of all the post-Soviet space that the current authorities from the Kremlin generically identify as “the Russian world”. This is a more than gloomy perspective for the Republic of Moldova in which there is a relatively large group of Russian speakers who are not linguistically and culturally integrated into the national language and culture environment of the majority population, being nostalgic for the privileges of the former imperial nation that dominated in the former USSR.

Today, the geographical position is the safest factor of the Republic of Moldova’s military security as the territory of Ukraine separates us from the invading Russian army. But this natural screen can disappear if Odessa is conquered and the Russian military forces become joined to the separatist region. During 30 years, the governments in Chisinau despicably ignored the measures to ensure the security of the Moldovan state and its citizens. There were avoided cardinal solutions to separate the country from the colonial metropolis and its growing revanchist pretensions. The whole gravity of the problems faced by the young Moldovan state along its history was first of all caused by the deformed national identity that, for its part, perpetuated in Moldovan society old mentalities that tolerated the former oppressive colonial regime. Romanophobia, combined with vulgar Moldovenism – the basic Russian ideological pillars in Moldova eastwards the Prut – remains the most efficient instrument for keeping the neocolonial dependence of the Republic of Moldova and the main obstacle to the modernization of the Moldovan state through Romanian and European integration.

Republic of Moldova: Central Europe or Eastern Europe?

By its historic tradition and by the language and culture of the majority population, the Republic of Moldova is an inalienable part of the Romanian ethnic and cultural space and, through this, of Central Europe, with traits that are different from those of the Eastern European space in which the Eurasian cultural tendencies are deep-seated. The political formalization of the Republic of Moldova’s affiliation to the European space that is distinct from the Eurasian one is done in the most natural way by the multi-aspectual homogenization of different spheres of life with Romania. Among the first steps in this regard were the attempts by Romanian political decision makers to introduce the formula “two Romanian states” in the political dialogue between the two states from the banks of the Prut. But the pro-Russian governments in Chisinau tacitly sabotaged this initiative and it remained familiar only in the media space and in the informal political sphere.

In April 2000, while finalizing the text of the interstate Treaty of privileged partnership and cooperation between Romania and the Republic of Moldova, there was formulated the proposal to conceive its content in the spirit of a treaty that would be different from the traditional one existing between the two states, such as “privileged and brotherhood”. But the official Chisinau again blocked this perspective. Later, in 2002, the political program of the Romanian National Unity Party contained an initiative proposal for the community of the Romanian states to be recognized as legal person at European level. It referred to the cooperation between the two states in the field of foreign, economic and cultural policy and in other directions that could ensure compatibility for successful integration into the EU, if not simultaneous, at least successive. But this proposal remained a political initiative that wasn’t put into practice.

Interstate Union as an alternative to “Kozak Memorandum”

Moscow’s attempt to restore the colonial dependence of the Republic of Moldova on Russia by federalizing the Moldovan state in accordance with the provisions of the so-called “Kozak Memorandum” generated a broad reaction of protest inside Moldovan society. For an increasing number of citizens of the Republic of Moldova, it was clear that a civilized future could be guaranteed only by amplifying pan-Romanian multidimensional solidarity. In front of the danger of permanentization of the chronic crisis that affected the Republic of Moldova following the imposition of the Russian economic bans in 2006, on the platform of the freshly reconstituted National Liberal Party (PNL) of Moldova, there was formulated a special - political, socioeconomic and cultural – project called the Romania - Republic of Moldova Interstate Union. This project could have been implemented best by signing an interstate treaty of brotherhood and privileged European partnership between Romania and the Republic of Moldova, whose goal should have been to fully integrate the two Romanian states into the EU. It was a project of Europeanization, for more rationally using the resources that could have come from the European Union, for swiftly modernizing these and for helping the Republic of Moldova catch up. It was planned to replicate the experience of economic growth and reforms promoted by Romania that in 2007 became an EU member state so as to strengthen the capacities of the Moldovan state to meet the European standards. It was anticipated that the following of Romania’s example would have brought the Republic of Moldova to living standards comparable with those in an EU member state in 2008-2018.

Interstate union based on parity of interests

According to PNL-Moldova, the concept of the Romania— Republic of Moldova Interstate Union was to include the gradual formation of the bodies for coordinating the policies of this construct, including the Parliamentary Assembly consisting of an equal number of MPs from both of the states, who were to come together for periodical sessions in Bucharest and Chisinau and who would have had the mission of preoccupying themselves with the harmonization and homogenization of the legislation of the Republic of Moldova with that of Romania, with the adoption of the Special Budget of the Interstate Union. At the same time, the interstate Executive Commission, which was to be based in Iasi and was to consist of an equal number of representatives of the Governments of Romania and the Republic of Moldova, was to deal with the execution of the Special Budget, adoption of policies to bring the Republic of Moldova closer to the EU by homogenizing the economic, political, social, cultural, security and defense sectors of the two  Romanian states, obtaining and implementation of an international mini-Marshall plan for solving the Transnistrian conflict and for the post-conflict socioeconomic rehabilitation of the Republic of Moldova, identification of financial assistance projects for the joint pension fund of the Romanian interstate union. The gradual unification of the pension systems of the two states was to be promoted through the Interstate Social House and joint social pension funds were to be managed.

Before the parliamentary elections of April 2009, talks were held on the PNL’s participation in the elections on the ticket of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), which at that moment had real chances of entering Parliament. It was planned that the members of PNL who would have entered Parliament on the ticket of PLDM, would constitute a distinct parliamentary group as part of the Liberal-Democratic parliamentary group, with the mission to promote at parliamentary level the concept of the Romania - Republic of Moldova Interstate Union. But the selfish group interests from inside PNL thwarted the formation of an electoral alliance with PLDM. As a result, the chance of launching the idea of a pan-Romanian Interstate Union from the Parliament’s rostrum was misused and PNL-Moldova ultimately split and became a chronic extraparliamentary party.

Interstate Union as alternative to “Russian world” and as a short path to EU

Today, the Republic of Moldova is looking for measures to increase its resilience before the escalation of Moscow’s hegemonic pretensions through the so-called space of the “Russian world” , the last most evident manifestation of these  aggressive pretension being the war in Ukraine. The declaring by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova of the Romanian character of the Moldovan space and the confirmation of this identity status by creating a pan-Romanian Interstate Union with Romania are a radical political-diplomatic formula for detaching the Republic of Moldova from the “Russian world” and, consequently, from the area that Russia considers its sphere of preferential geopolitical influence. The putting into practice of such a geopolitical Romanian solidarity project would not only contribute to increasing the Republic of Moldova’s resilience before the danger of a Russian military aggression, but would also serve as a solid reason for negotiating a separate European integration path for the Moldovan state.

“Tertium non datur”?

At least, the feasibility of such a project could become a subject for discussion at the planned joint meeting of the Parliaments of the two Romanian states that is to take place soon in Chisinau. In times of profound crisis, caused by the Russian military aggression against the neighboring country Ukraine, extraordinary measures to safeguard the state and the people should be taken in front of an existential war danger. As Finland and Sweden, which had maintained the neutrality status for a long period of time, resorted to extraordinary measures for guaranteeing their security by applying to join NATO in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova must also resort to cardinal security solutions by putting into practice the project to initiate and consolidate the Romanian national unity. The delay and half-measures can be fatal for the Republic of Moldova and its people. In times of affliction, the visionary wisdom and political determination of statesmen are manifested best. It is highly probable that in the current geopolitical situation, the Roman saying tertium non datur is the most suitable one for depicting the optimal security solution for the Republic of Moldova. Let’s hope that the current pro-European governments of the Republic of Moldova will meet the challenges of time and will not miss the historical chance of accelerating the European integration process by implementing the Romanian national unity project.

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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