Will Moldova Reunite with Romania?

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Will romania and moldova unite

Image by: Andrei Nacu

Have you ever watched or played a game of chess? During the last 20 years an important game of chess takes place in the eastern part of Europe. The major players are Moldova, Romania, Russia and the European Union. The stake of the game is Moldova. On 20th October, in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, thousands of people marched. The goal of their movement was the reunification of Romania with Moldova. Why people from Romania and Moldova are asking for this action? What are the connections between Romania and Moldova? What are the geopolitical implications for the entire Eastern Europe?

Historical context

Many Romanians believe that their country should share the same destiny with Moldova because there are many historical, social and cultural links between Moldovans and Romanians. Maybe the most important one is that from an ethnic point of view 78% of the Moldovans are Romanians. (CIA, The World Factbook)

In 1812, an important part of Moldova was conquered by the Russian Empire. After the First World War, in 1918 Moldova, also known as Basarabia, returned to Romania and for the first time in the modern history the entire Romanian people were placed under the same governmental umbrella – in the Romanian history this period is called the age of the Greater Romania. During the Second World War, Moldova was annexed by the Soviet Union and until the end of the Cold War was under the Soviet sphere of influence.

After the end of the Cold War, Moldova became an independent nation. The Romanians who lived in this space started peaceful protests. Their objective was the establishment of the Romanian language as a state language. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was afraid that they will lose their grip over the region, but they had the perfect opportunity to maintain a certain amount of influence. Transnistria, the Eastern part of Moldova, the majority is held by Russians (Slavic population). Transnistria is a separatist region and in the first years after the independence there was a blood bath. In order to maintain the security of the region Russian military forces remained here. After 1993 the relationship between Romania and Moldova enters into a gradual cooling era. For example, the 2004 Constitution talks about the Moldavian language and Moldovan nationality.

In 2009 the political party of Vladimir Voronin won the elections again. Vladimir Voronin is a communist. The liberals and civil society used all the social media platforms to organise a huge protest movement in Chisinau. Around 15.000 people were involved and a lot of them were students. Voronin said that the entire movement was a coup d’etat staged by Romania. Step-by-step the entire country became more unstable although the liberals managed to take power.

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Romania and Moldova…and Russia

As we mentioned before there are many voices in Romania who believe that Moldova should be a part of Romania and the movement which took place on 20th October are the physical evidence of this desire.

A move on a chessboard is never simple and easy. There are many factors that must be considered. The first one is the economy. Moldova is a poor and divided country. In many ways the situation is similar with Western and Eastern Germany. For example the GDP of Romania will increase with $5.5 billion but the GDP per capita will decrease with more than 1.000 Euro. There are many regions in Romania which have a bigger GDP than the entire Moldova. Also there is the problem of Transnistria and the illegal arms smuggling operations from there. They could interfere and affect the national security of Romania.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said that the reunification is possible as long as the people from Moldova want it. After this statement a newspaper from Russia said that the President claims “could block the European integration of Moldova and they cause even more instability in the region.” (Nezavisimaia Gazeta) Also, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kojara said that Romania and Moldova are sovereign states and they can decide whatever they want in their bilateral relationship.

In the past few years the message Basarabia (Moldova) is Romanian land appeared throughout the major cities of the country and during the movement from 20th October thousands of flags and banners with this message appeared. This message appears on fences, bridges and even governmental buildings and if you walk by foot in Bucharest you can notice this message near subway stations or important governmental buildings.

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At the end of the day the opinion of the European Union and Russia must be taken into account because Romania is an EU member and at this moment Moldova is not prepared to enter into the European community. Also a possible expansion of Romania near Transnistria and the Russian sphere of influence has many implications for the security of Moldova as region, for the security of Romania and for the security of the entire European Union.

Moldova is a buffer zone between NATO/EU and Russia. How Romania will play this geopolitical chess game is very important for the future of the entire region because Romania has the opportunity to reboot its diplomatic power in the region but also the future of the 3.7 million of souls living in Moldova is at stake. We cannot think and look at this game from a very cynical perspective because there are lives involved. At this moment the situation is quite grim for Moldova because being a buffer zone is sometimes a geopolitical disadvantage. If Bismarck and his Realpolitik would be alive, he would say that Moldova is just a pawn in this chess game. We all know that Bismarck is dead, but can we say that Realpolitik is also dead? Think about that!

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