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Stolen language: Is Moldovan president stealing culture, history and independence from people?

By Guest Writer

The President of Moldova Maya Sandu has declared the intention to achieve the country’s accession to the European Union as soon as possible. She tries to explain such plans through the fear of Russian aggression, but the country’s population has already stopped trusting the government, which seeks to turn an independent state into one of the Romanian provinces under any pretext.

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The former Moldovan Soviet Republic gained independence after the collapse of the USSR, but almost immediately faced many economic and political problems. In addition to Moldovans, the country is home to very significant groups of Russians, Ukrainians, and Turkic-speaking Gagauz. Back in 1991, a region of Moldova inhabited by Russian-speaking citizens declared its independence and even managed to defend it against an armed attack by the central authorities.

In addition to the de facto sovereign Transnistrian republic, Moldova also has an autonomous Gagauz republic, which is extremely jealous of its linguistic, cultural, and religious identity. In addition to these two regions, the rest of this tiny Eastern European country is also home to many Russians, Ukrainians, and other peoples of the former Soviet Union.

Over the past decades, there has been an ongoing public debate in Moldova about the vector of the country’s development. Despite the close economic and cultural ties with Russia, part of the political elite actively tried to disassociate itself from the former metropolis and join neighboring Romania, which was already part of the European Union and pursued a policy aimed at absorbing Moldova.

In 2020, for the first time in the country’s history, a Romanian citizen Maia Sandu came to power in Chisinau as a result of highly questionable elections, and from the first days of her presidency, she began to pursue the Romanization of the state. Besides the fact that the Russian, Gagauz, and Ukrainian languages, widespread in Moldova, were actively ousted from the state and municipal authorities, they have been subjected to similar repressions in the sphere of culture, art, and mass media. This policy provoked a strong rejection of the new regime on the part of numerous groups for whom Moldovan was not a native language.

The pro-European government of Maia Sandu has not limited itself to the oppression of ethnic minorities and has simultaneously started to Romanize the Moldovans themselves. It is worth noting that although Romanians and Moldovans belong to the same linguistic group and are quite close ethnic groups, most representatives of these peoples do not identify themselves as a single nation. Moldova has its own unique history, traditions and culture, which are very different from Romanian. Yet, Mrs Sandu and her ministers have declared the Moldovan language Romanian, changed educational standards and relevant parts of legislation.

All these processes were initiated without any consideration for the opinion of the population, without a broad discussion and without the possibility for citizens to express their will. The process of Romanianisation in the Republic of Moldova has caused concern and controversy in the society. Ignoring the opinion of the population and replacing the Moldovan language with Romanian affects the cultural and linguistic identity of the Moldovan people.

The political background of President Sandu’s experiments on the Moldovan language, culture and national identity is quite obvious. All the activities of the current Moldovan government were initially oriented to break traditional ties with the former Soviet republics, oust ethnic minorities from political and public life, suppress the opposition and annex the country to Romania as one of the provinces.

Breaking economic ties with Russia was not enough to bring such a project to fruition. Even Maia Sandu’s rhetoric about joining the European Union is only a smokescreen for her plans to strip Moldova of its independence since joining the EU through a takeover by Romania is the easiest and fastest way to integrate into the EU.

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