What is the controversy over the Moldovan identity about ?

“The Moldovan government should step up its efforts in developing better programs aimed at increasing interethnic relations and social cohesion[1]” states a recently published policy paper from the Chisinau-based Institute for Politics and European Reform, warning about the existing political and social discrepancies between the ethnic groups of Moldova. The border delineation of the contemporary […]

The Moldovan government should step up its efforts in developing better programs aimed at increasing interethnic relations and social cohesion[1]” states a recently published policy paper from the Chisinau-based Institute for Politics and European Reform, warning about the existing political and social discrepancies between the ethnic groups of Moldova.
The border delineation of the contemporary Republic of Moldova is the result of the major wars, troubles and peace treaties that shaped Europe all along the XXth century. Thus, after years of external domination and institutional diversions, the process of Nation-Building, whose goal is “to build the collective capacity to achieve public results and to pursue a shared vision of the future[2]”, is still tumultuous in Moldova. Arguably, even the current socio-economic issues Moldova faces are due to the lack of state-capacity over the whole society, whose symbolic political representation differs as per the personal historical narrative developed by each citizen. As we assume that factors lead to different opinions along with Ernesto Laclau, who makes the difference between social identity and social identification, one’s identity lacks consistency, tangibility and even roots. The politicization is much about “the act of identification that tries to fill it cannot have a source of justification external to itself since the order with which we identify is accepted, not because it is considered as valuable in terms of the criteria of goodness or rationality which operate at its bases, but because it brings about the possibility of order, of a certain regularity[3]according to Laclau. Therefore, looking into the political history seems a relevant port of entry to explain the poor social cohesion and the distinct political narratives which define the state of the concept of a nation within the multi-ethnic Republic of Moldova. More specifically, this paper attempts to highlight how the different policies towards ethnicity, implemented since the incorporation of Bessarabia within the Russian Empire (1812) to independence from the USSR (1991), affect nowadays the narrative developed by the different ethnicities and the ruling elites, on the political identification towards nationalism in Moldova. The cases of Transnistria, on the left bank of the Nistru, and Gagauzia, a Turkish-speaking minority from the South of Moldova, as well as the old presence of Bulgars and Ukrainians also participate to the multiplicity of identities within the frontiers of Moldova.
The political history of Moldova is divided between two scholarly schools. The Romanianists argue that the Republic of Moldova is a historical mistake as its territories actually correspond to the Romanian region of Bessarabia, and everything shall be done to reunify it with Bucharest, as its independence is the result of an illegitimate occupation by the USSR. On the other hand, the Moldovenists support the idea of a special national identity for the Moldovans, which are distinct from the Romanians because of cultural and historical features, sometimes even ethnic and linguistic. Throughout history, the successive states entities have been still willing to build a coherent statehood and nationhood for this territory, roughly speaking – and with territorial changes over the time – located between the rivers Dniestr (called “Nistru” in Romanian) and Prut[4]. Arguably, and considering the overall social situation in the country, all of these attempts failed to achieve sustainable nation-building and strong social cohesion. Which events led to such a division?
Moldova emerged first as a political entity in the early 14th century with the foundation of the Principality of Moldavia by Wallachians, a proto-Romanian ethnic group that populated most of the Moldova river region. The frontiers of this Principality are nowadays split mainly between the region of Moldova within Romania, the eastern bank of the Prut, latterly known as Bessarabia, and a part of Western Ukraine. This period is the time of the creation of a feudal state as the genesis of a modern state, with the completion of the required elements for such a project, in line with the work of Yves Déloye[5] on the sociogenesis of the modern states, characterized mainly by the establishment of an administration over a territory to finance the wars. Neither nationalism nor ethnic politics were at stake at the moment, but its period is often a reference for the supporters of a distinct Moldovan identity who argues that the ethnic difference and a distinct history are positive arguments for a Moldova distinct from Romania – theory which has been latterly endorsed by the Soviet Union[6], as I am going to explore bellow. The Principality of Moldavia (1359-1859) was one of the three medieval Romanian-speaking proto-states, along with Transylvania and Wallachia. However, when the later became ottoman provinces, Moldovia manages to remain an autonomous elective aristocracy in 1512, while paying tributes to Istanbul. The increasing intrusion of the Ottomans into Moldavia’s Politics undermined its development but enabled the rise of national identity distinct from Romania.
After the Russian-Turkish wars (1806-1812), the main part of the territory of the country falls under the domination of the Russian Empire, in the Bessarabia Governorate. The Treaty of Bucharest (1812) ceded the lands between the Prut and the Dniestr to the Russian Empire, while the local aristocracy (the boyars) claimed Moldova shall remain autonomous, as the Sultan has no right to cede a vassal state (which legally did not belong to the Ottoman Empire as a province)[7]. As the local boyars petitioned, the region was granted autonomous rights within the Empire. The local administration started used both Russian and Romanian languages – which, interestingly enough, was called “Moldovan language” by the Russian administration thus participating in the differentiation from Moldova. However, as neighboring Wallachia, part of the Ottoman Empire, was in a state of political disorder facing national uprising in 1821, the administration of the Russian Empire started to take measures to prevent such a national movement. Moldova since then has been excluded from the Romanian nation-building process. Terry Martin writes about this that “the Moldovan peasant’s view of his national identity was… not solely the product of Russian assimilationist policies, but had remained virtually frozen since the Russian annexation of 1812[8]”.  As the historian Vasile Stoica states, the Romanian language was banned in 1834 from schools and governmental institutions, as well as in the other parts of the public sphere (press, books, churches)[9]; in 1854, Russian became the only official language. The people who protested eventually ended up deported in Siberia. In the meanwhile, the eastern bank of the Nistru (currently called Transnistria), was part of the province of New Russia (Novorossiya) and fully integrated into the Russian Empire. This distinction will have political implications that I will discuss later. In 1878, Romania became independent from the Ottoman Empire and stated claiming the right to unite with Bessarabia – while being composed of the region of “Moldavia” (on the western bank of the Prut), and Wallachia[10][11].
Until the beginning of the XXth century, Bessarabia became more and more integrated into the Russian Empire. The administration was captured by the Russian nobility, while the local boyars lost most of their power, but not without protests. At the end of the Crimean war (1877), Russia ceded the south of Bessarabia to Romania, and took it back one year later, claiming through Alexander Gorchakov that Russia had to protect the territory against Turkey. Nowadays, the heritage of Bessarabia is tainted. The Romanianists defines clearly this period as an occupation of the territory by the Russian Empire. The National Museum of History of Moldova holds a room dedicated to this period, defined as an occupation in comparison to the next room, which depicts the “reunification” with Romania and the “cultural renewal”[12]. In Romania, the book stores mention contemporary authors from the Republic of Moldova as authors from Bessarabia, Moldova being for them the name of the Romanian province on the west of the Prut. It is clear that this time is considered for them as a period where Bessarabia should have united with the other Romanian-speaking provinces; for the Moldovenists, it emphasizes the different nature of the region from the rest of Romania, as specific cultural features appear due to the experience of the Russian domination.
The reunification within the Greater Romania
When the Bolsheviks were forced to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to end the involvement of the newly created USSR in the First World War, Bessarabia was lost to Romania in 1918. Unlike the Eastern bank of the Dniestr, western territories were fully included in Romania, whose policies have influenced the state narrative of the current Republic of Moldova. While the Sfatul Țării (Country Council) declared the independence of the Moldavian Democratic Republic (January 24, 1918), it voted the union with the kingdom of Romania (April 9, 1918) as it was hard for it to remain sustainably independent between large powers. The union was to be done upon the achievement of agrarian reform and the respect of the local autonomy and rights of the population.  On a legal point of view, the unification was not clear; if a Commission on the Romanian Affairs – composed with the USA, the UK, France, and Italy – agreed upon the fact that Bessarabia should belong to Romania, no Treaty was signed nor enforced due to the fact that the USA refused to sign, as Russia did not wish to participate in the Conference. Indeed, the Bolshevik-led Russia never accepted the rule of Bucharest over Bessarabia. This legal loophole would have consequences later when the USSR would annex the region; in terms of international law, no frontier would be officially violated. Interwar Great Romania had as a primary goal the nation-building of a state incorporating all the Romanian population (a nation-state), but also had imperialistic features when it came to the unification of all the ethnic people under the flag of Romania, avoiding the rights of the minorities and denying their specificities.
The Moldovenist interpretation of this union is that the Country Council pragmatically chose Romania over the incorporation into Ukraine, but symbolize the advent of the Romania occupation of Bessarabia. For the Romanianists, however, the union is nothing more than a positive event symbolizing the restitution to its Mother-land. The laws implemented by Antonescu in Bessarabia were oriented towards the fully administrative integration of the territory into Romania, while the region remained largely at the margin of the country, being called “Romania’s Siberia” by some historians who highlights the remoteness of this region in which many concentration camps for political opponents and Roma people. The ethnic minorities which constituted a large part of Bessarabia (Ukrainians, Romas, Russians, Jews, Gagauzs, Bulgars) where marginalized from the political affairs by the ruling elites. The bilingual education which was previously the norm was done only in the Romanian language. However, despite the language proximity, and the efforts of the administration of Romania to integrate Bessarabia, Charles King has been arguing that “the task of integrating [the population of Bessarabia] proved to be far more difficult than the pan-Romanian unionists had imagined[13]”. The lack of infrastructure and investments connecting Bessarabia to the rest of the country was arguably a determinant factor in this failure, as well as the high illiteracy rate.
The cultural legacy over this period is, even if contrasted, widely promoted in the present-days Republic of Moldova. In fact, the Museum of History of Moldova outreaches about the “cultural renewal” this period gave to the country, even if the shared memory is not likely to promote it. It is nowadays a narrative basically blurred by the political parties, whose pro-Russian ones described the annexation by the USSR as the ”victory over fascism” while the pro-Romanian/pro-European ones are more likely to see this period, if not as a Golden Age, as a time of cultural and political unity with Romania. Nowadays, this concept is still used by people arguing in favor of the unification of Romania and Moldova, and still stand behind the foreign policy Romania develops towards Moldova since its independence in 1991[14]. On the other hand, the national minorities were marginalized from the public sphere, as discriminated by the use of Romanian exclusively in the administration and schools. The Russian intelligentsia – including all the actors of the public sphere – were removed and forced to assimilate rapidly to cope with the national project of Romania.[15] Because the regime of Antonescu was against the USSR and tainted with elements of fascism, all the work of the USSR was to delegitimize completely his rule, which remains important for the formation of modern-day Romania. Antonescu is still a national hero today in Bucharest. The narrative of the Great Patriotic War won by the Soviet Union as a whole is a founding myth for the Moldovan identity, even if today it is more mixed and put into perspective with the historical context.
In the meanwhile, on the eastern side of the Dnest, Transnistria was part of the Soviet Union, first within the Ukrainian SSR, then as part of the Moldovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1924-1940). According to Terry, by creating the Moldovan ASSR, Moscow for the first time combined the formation of a national autonomy to pursue foreign policy goals, i.e. showing it was not imperialist as the former Russian Empire by, at the contrary, granted Moldova with an autonomous territory while Bucarest divided the people living in Bessarabia[16]. There the idea of Moldovenism really started to spread, by arguing that Moldovan and Romanian are different languages. Besides, it was mandatory transcripted into the Cyrillic alphabet. The Autonomous Republic through its administration spread this idea that Moldova was supposed to be a distinct nation, therefore promoting irredentism from Romania, as supposedly the Moldovan people living under the Romanian rule were stuck under an imperialistic power. The identity of Moldova has been shaped by the politic of “indigenization” (korenizatsiya) which enabled the Romanian-speaking population of Bessarabia to keep developing a distinct identity. Romanian/Moldovan language started to be taught in the ASSR, even to the Ukrainian or Russian-speaking population. Paradoxically, this territory never was part of an institutionalized Moldova, nor had Moldovan as the major ethnic group. Still, the policies of indigenization gave a cultural and political framework for the development of a Moldovan Communist elite (whose ethnic belonging was valued and gave privileges as being the titular nation of the ASSR).  Sometimes adopting a biased methodology :
During the Soviet period, the pressure placed on Moldovan linguists by Soviet authorities to promote Moldovan as an independent language was overbearing. Moldovan linguistics were forced to write either that Moldovan was not Romanian, or to steer clear of the topic altogether. Focusing on the Russian lexical items present in the Romanian of Moldova, which clearly had made inroads into the language, to prove its distinctness, was a typical strategy[17].”
These elements gave theoretical justification and popular background for the annexation of Bessarabia by the USSR at the end of the Second World War. The Moldovenism was indeed a great idea for the population of Bessarabia, which suffered the most from the war and did not finalize the nation-building process with Romania.
The annexation of Bessarabia and the creation of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic: the consecration of Moldovenism?
As part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, Bessarabia was due to come back into the Soviet “sphere of influence”. After an ultimatum sent to Bucharest on June 26th, 1940, the USSR decided to take the territory agreed upon and dismantled the Moldovan ASSR to create the Moldova SSR, while reorganizing the administrative split giving Bucovina and Budjak to the Ukrainian SSR. People disagreeing with the new political order were deported to Siberia or executed. Although between 1941 and 1944 Romania took back its former territories and even occupied Transnistria, the USSR set its control once and for all before the end of the war.
As Moldova’s demographics suffered from the war and to root the region into USSR, Stalin organized the emigration of the Russian speaking population into the newly created Soviet Republic of Moldova. The linguistic policies implemented at the time participated once again to the empowerment (or distinction) of the Moldovan identity. Schools gave a large place to the development of national languages: even in the Ukrainian villages of Moldova SSR, Ukrainian, Romanian and Russian language courses were offered. From 1938 to 1959, the bilingual education was granted, while Russian language became a mandatory subject. The promotion of the Moldovan identity as developed previously in the Moldovan ASSR was scaled up and mainstreamed in all Moldova. To that regards, Terry Martin in his famous book Affirmative Action Empire, states that the Soviet Union was “the first of the old European multi-ethnic states to confront the rising tide of nationalism and respond by systematically promoting the national consciousness of its ethnic minorities and establishing for them many of the characteristic and institutional forms of the nation-state[18]”. By the 1950s, the linguistic differentiation of Moldovan from Romanian was progressively abandoned, as the focus was more on emphasized on integrating the Moldovan people into the Soviet community of values and supra-national nation-building. The Russian language was however required to any management position and was highly favored for inter-ethnic communication. As a titular nation of a Soviet Republic, the Moldovan people enjoyed privileges, despite a high rate of deportation. Under Brezhnev, Moldova SSR received billions of rubles of investment in housing, industry and scientific facilities, making it one of the most preposterous places in the Union. The fact that titular from the Republic was acting President of the local branch of the Communist party granted Moldova with a national representation in Moscow, which was significantly participating in the acceptance of the Soviet Republic to remain under Moscow influence.
The Soviet-era is a really particular period for Moldova as it remains a kind of Golden Age for the country, which used to be part of the biggest country on Earth being ideological and military concurrent with the USA. Moldova used to feed with its rich soil all the Soviet Republics, and exported its wine in all the Communist World. The nostalgia of this era shapes arguably the way Moldova see itself, thus has no comparable element with Romania in terms of Political Culture. It is defined by Robert K. Merton as “a set of attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments that give order and meaning to a political process and which provide the underlying assumptions and rules that govern behavior in the political system’[19]’. It seems important to focus on its development along with the other Socialist Republic because it is a determinant factor in the formation of the current Moldovan identity. Despite the discourses about the European orientations authorities claim to embrace differences of values and perception of values might be heavily tangible in the way politics and society interact. Unlike in Romania, whose Communist regime was largely nationalist, Moldova has been really much impregnated with the Marxist-Leninist ideology. Some authors consider that the domestic Soviet policies, which aimed at creating the archetype of the Communist World, a society shaped by the Marxist-Leninist ideology, are a cause of civic inaction. Pop-Eleches implemented a model which measured the development of the civil society and concluded that, compared with post-authoritarian non-communist states, the post-Soviet states have a less developed civil society: “the efforts to reshape individuals and society along ideological lines, and the central role of the Party in these efforts, were much more prominent in communist regimes than in the non-communist world (democratic and authoritarian alike). Furthermore, there was much greater penetration of all levels of society by the Soviet regime compared to other authoritarian regimes[20]’’. This is an element that argues that Moldova’s society itself could not be at the same stage of national development as Romania because of the particular Soviet policies.
Until the end of the Soviet Union, Moldova has become a model Soviet Republic with shared characteristics with its fellow united Republics: while mainly Russian-led, the President still has been an ethnic Moldovan; the national culture has been promoted as being part of a multicultural state while the Soviet culture got deep into the social structures composing the ethnics. Because the idea of the national identity was not very developed in Bessarabia in 1940, the USSR managed easily to shape Moldova SSR how it wanted, by valuing an identity which was until then stifled by the successive powers which controlled the territory. However, the “Romanianness” of the Moldovan started to thrive slightly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, along with the national feelings in the different other Republics. King explains it, among other factors, by the critics of the massive use of Russian language from the Moldovan cultural leaders; the “quiet acceptance of standard literacy Romanian and by extension the gradual Romanization of the Moldovan intellectual life[21]”; demographics; cultural trends. The Moldovan National Front demanded during the glasnost that Romanian would be the official language of Moldova, and even some of them claimed for the reattachment with Romania. These policies were highly feared by the Russian-speaking population, whose majority never learned Romanian, as they were perceived as hostile to them. This trend was especially predominant in Transnistria, which has been deeply Russified[22]. However, as a nation is also about the cognitive knowledge of the other, a study showed that the Moldovan people living at the boundaries with Romania are really likely to consider themselves as Romanians. Indeed, perception and imagination are closely related when it comes to nationalism, so the community becomes more real when it is tangible than when it deals with abstract mention of other people[23].
The Transnistrian war and the fragile cohesion of Moldova (1992-present)
The authors debate around the causes and reasons of the Transnistrian secession. The bias is often linked with the ideological and/or sentimental orientations which lead to such an opinion. For some of the historians, the Moldovan civil war due from the secession of Transnistria was because of the Romanian nationalism which, in the words of Edward Ozhiganov, was “the attempt to create a unitary, ethnic state with power concentrated in the hands of ethnic nationalists in what was actually a multiethnic society”. To that extent, secession in Transnistria is the reaction of nationalizing policies implemented in Chisinau, as Dembinska and Iglesias argue in a paper. According to them, the nation-building in Transnistria relies on a recent internal identity that shifted from emphasizing on “Moldovanism” to “Transnistrian nationhood”, largely avoiding the ethnic question[24]. Indeed, unlike the common belief, the region did not break away and engaged to war for ethnic questions but arguably to counter the Romanian-led project of unifying Moldova with Bucharest and to protect the way of life Transnistria enjoyed during the USSR. Symbolically, Transnistria wants to position itself as a multi-language state (Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian are all officially equally the official languages), despite the fact that Russian is mainly used. However, Romanian-taught schools do still exist and provide teaching until the university in the Romanian language, but in Cyrillic alphabet. I want also to emphasize the instrumental feature of this nation-building project, which might predominantly be used by the local elites to keep the monopoly on their interest while evolving in a mafia-type state whose little size did not prevent the denunciation and the personal pressures from establishing. Anyway, as the elites of Chisinau were mainly into a Romanianizing trend, the authorities of Transnistria used the Moldovenist approach to justify and legitimate their secession, according to Dembinska and Danero Iglesia. However, they conclude their paper stating in the nation-building process of Transnistria and Moldova « ethnic identifications seem to be losing significance. Ethnic Moldovan attributes are not significant for individuals. Often, this is so because most people have mixed origins. » The breakaway of Transnistria might be also considered primarily through the prism of Russian meddling into its Near Abroad, and it considers Transnistria as per se different from the rest of Moldova as if they were anti-Moldova pro-Russian people. This theory is valid to a limit extend, as the territory is very diverse ethnically. The cultural variable might explain the best reason for the breakout, as well as bearing in mind the rent-seeking oriented clan system in the region.
On the other hand, according to Marcin Kosienkowski, in Moldova, the ideology of the Government was more influenced by Romanianism from 1989 to 1994, whereas from 1994 to 2004, Moldovanism prevailed[25]. I would even say that this trend is largely continuing nowadays, despite phenomenal Romanianist measures. Piotr Oleksy argues it is non-ethnic, based on Moldovan citizenship[26]. Moldova also had to deal with Gagauzia’s attempt of secession but managed to reach a peaceful solution by writing in the constitution the status of the newly established Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia within a decentralized Moldova in 1994. Moldova Politics is still influenced by the ethnic questions, while it is not a predominant element defining parties, which are defined by their geopolitical orientation. According to Kosienkowski, ”right-wing parties support Romanianism, left-wing ones – Moldovanism. Moldovans’ political sympathies are divided among various political groups, the ethnic minorities prefer left-wing groups, particularly the communist party (Party of Communists of Republic of Moldova – PCRM).” Also, the minorities massively support more the cooperation with Russia that the European integration, as they assimilate it with a victory of the Romanianist side, as Romania is for Moldova the reference in terms of Europe. It would automatically reduce the canals with Russia, thus supposedly weakening the place of the minorities in Moldova’s public sphere. Moldova itself had to consider this situation to build its own nation and state. If the conflict is frozen, the breakaway region is still rhetorically supposed to come back under Chisinau’s control after peace agreements. That is why – and considering the important Russian minority in the whole country, especially in the North and in Chisinau – the contemporary Moldovan state is a balanced mixture of the ethnic interests to sustain the balance of power. Romanian became the official language, and Russian granted the status of interethnic communication language. There is a dichotomy in an identity which cannot be solved so far, as the Moldovanists and Romanianists have two different agendas for the nation[27], which is prevented to unify by “different interpretations of historical events, name of the language, ethnic heritage, and nation“[28]. However, the generational and demographic change is expected to mind this ideological gap in favor of Moldovanism, as the school inculcates mainly the minority-compatible version of Moldova.
Indeed, after having suffered symbolically and economically from the Transnistrian war, Moldova’s Central authorizes adopted inclusive policies to include the minorities into the national community. Indeed, « as in the Constitution, the (multiethnic) nation of Moldova was distinguished from the Moldovan nation (i.e. ethnic Moldovans) who were a state-building group”. Education is possible in both Romanian and Russia at the University, until the Master’s level including. Russian schools are state-funded and open all around the country, where the majority of the subjects are taught in Russian while Romanian is mandatory. This ethnic liberalism is the real advent of the Moldovanism, as in 1994 a referendum for long abandoned the idea of the union with Romania by 95%. Besides, after conflicts over the administrative delimitation of Bulgar County, the Central Government has been very accommodating and grant them with a large Taraclia country in which they are the majority[29]. The survival itself of Moldova as a country depends on its ethnic policies, but they shall be consensual so unity would be ensured. Indeed, sometimes the different groups work as lobby thought they relay in the Parliament, with a clientelist perspective, so the balance between them is primordial to ensure the cohesion as a whole. If sometimes it might be an argument to protect the rights, it can also indeed be used in a complex clan system relying on patron-client dynamics in a rent-seeking system[30]. The democratization of the political institutions appears therefore to be a component of the building of a peaceful and sustainable citizenship-based Moldovan nation.
To a citizenship-based identity?
The nature of the reattachment of Bessarabia to the USSR is subject to debates amongst historians, as well as the incorporation into the Russian Empire and the union with Romania. King defines the latter as ‘annexation’ in the first case and ‘occupation’ in the second. King is a true historian who does not take a stand in favor Moldovenists nor Romanianists, as he acknowledges the common features between Romania and Moldova, but also shows the uniqueness of nation-building in Moldova due to the Slavic influences which influenced Bessarabia over centuries. To conclude his book, King postulates the Republic of Moldova would keep its dual identity and potential, whose development would depend on the abilities of the elites to promote either the Moldovan path, either the Romanian one and engage the population into a particular national project. Nowadays, even if political identification shows significant different trends defining the society of Moldova, people are actually united by a territory there have been populating for decades, sometimes centuries, and enjoy elements of the culture of other ethnical groups, which are also part of their identity. For example, ethnical Moldovan people widely enjoy Russian-speaking Soviet cinema, which is their common heritage; on the other hand, Russian people from Moldova might consider the traditional Moldovan folk music as part of constituting their identity. If a dichotomy exists, a solid common cultural framework exists for the citizens of Moldova, who are united by their customs, food, wine, and cheese, which are enjoyed by every one of them in spite of their ethnic identity. Remembering Renan’s approach of a nation relying on “having made great things together and wishing to make them again”, one can consider that it is already a path Moldova is taking, in spite of domestic problems and divisions.
In June, 2019, a unique coalition described as composed with the alliance of pro-European and pro-Russian parties, led by Igor Dodon and Maya Sandu, came into the position of holding office together to get rid of corruption and ethnic politics. One might have had reckoned that the national union included the end of ethnic politics. If they are low in Moldova, symptoms are still tangible. When Dodon finished his speech at the UN Assembly with a sentence in Russian, it provoked demonstrations in Chisinau[31]. Moldova nowadays is not a nation-state, not a cosmopolitan one. Ethnicities are still relevant at the edge of the 21st century. However, by building solid and inclusive citizenship, it could achieve a sustainable Nation-Building by fitting with Anderson’s definition of nations as “imagined communities”. Considering the local power balance and the game between the political elites, this project, if it is fulfilled is not likely to be a top-down movement as the ethnicities’’ instrumentalization is still actual.


[1] PAGUNG Sarah, GHILETCHI Stanislav, GHERASIMOV Cristina, “Moldova’s Eropeanization and interethnic cohesion”, 2nd edition, IPRE, September 2019
[2] BOURGON Jocelyne, “The History and Future of Nation-Building? Building capacity for public results”, International review of Administrative Sciences, 2010
[3] LACLAU Ernesto, The Making of Political Identities, Verso, UK, 1994, 3
[4] Farima Marina, Moldovanism vs. Romanianism. The Dichotomy of Ethnic Identity: How Moldova Fails at Nation Building.
[5] Déloye Yves, Sociologie historique du politique. La Découverte, « Repères », 2007
[6] King Charles, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture”, Hoover Press, 2000, pg. 62
[7] King Charles, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Press, 2013, p.19
[8] King Charles, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Press, 2013, p.47
[9] Stoica, Vasile, The Romanian Question: The Romanians and their Lands, 1919, Pittsburgh, Printing Company. pp. 31–32
[10] Annexe 1: The United Principalities (Romania) 1859–1878, shown in light beige (Transylvania joined the Union after the Word War One); credit: Olahus
[11] See Maps Annex 1
[12] National Museum of History of Moldova, visited by the author in August, 2019
[13] KING Charles, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Press, 2013, p. 44
[14] ARBATOV Alekseĭ Georgievich, Managing Conflict in the Former Soviet Union: Russian and American Perspectives, MIT Press, 1997, pp. 202-204.
[15] SKVORTOVA Alla, Russians of Bessarabia: Experience of Living in Diaspora (1918-1940), Chisinau, 2012
[16] KING Charles, Ethnicity and Institutional reforms : the dynamics of « indigenization » in the Moldovan ASSR, Nationalities Paper, Vol. 26, No1, 1998
[17] Dyer Donald L. Some Influences of Russian on the Romanian of Moldova during the Soviet Period, The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), p. 87
[18] MARTIN Terry, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, Cornell University Press, 2001, p.1

[19] MERTON Robert K., International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (Macmillan, USA, 1968)
[20] POP-ELECHES Grigore, Communist Socialization and Post-Communist Economic and Political Attitudes, Princeton University, USA, 2012, p.6
[21] KING Charles, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Press, 2013, p.107
[22] DEMBINSKA Magdalena, DANERO IGLESIAS Julien, Transnistria Nation The Making of an Empty Moldovan Category within a Multiethnic Transnistrian nation, East European Politics and Societies, published online 28 April 2013
[23] ARAMBASA Mihaela Narcisa, Everyday life on the eastern border of the EU – between Romanianism and Moldovanism in the border area of the Republic of Moldova and Romania, SEER: Journal for Labour and Social Affairs in Eastern Europe, Vol. 11, No. 3, Borderland III: The Black Sea region – Romania, Moldova and Ukraine (2008), pp. 355-369
[24] DEMBINSKA Magdalena, DANERO IGLESIAS Julien, Transnistria Nation The Making of an Empty Moldovan Category within a Multiethnic Transnistrian nation, East European Politics and Societies, published online 28 April 2013
[25] KOSIENKOWSKI Marcin, Ethnic policy of Moldova, in: Ethnic Policy in Contemporary East Central European Countries, ed. Henryk Chałupczak, Radosław Zenderowski, and Walenty Baluk (Lublin: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Press, 2015), 261–302.
[26] OLEKSY Piotr, Discourse on National Identity in Moldovan Politics after 2009, Przegląd Strategiczny” 2012 no. 2.

[27] MARINA Fatima, Moldovanism vs. Romanianism. The Dichotomy of Ethnic Identity: How Moldova Fails at Nation Building.
[28] BAAR Vladimir, Jakubek Daniel, Divided National Identity in Moldova, Journal of Nationalism, Memory & Language Politics, 2017
[29] KOSIENKOWSKI Marcin, Ethnic policy of Moldova, in: Ethnic Policy in Contemporary East Central European Countries, ed. Henryk Chałupczak, Radosław Zenderowski, and Walenty Baluk (Lublin: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Press, 2015), 261–302.
[30] PARMENTIER Florent, Les chemins de l’Etat de droit, Presses de Sciences Po, 2014
[31] As seen by the author on September 27, 2019

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