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Reunion Holiday Stirs Up Passions in Chisinau

Chisinau sees Bucharest's decision to make the anniversary a public holiday as a way of fomenting unionist feelings.

31 March 2017

Ninety-nine years on, Bessarabia's decision to unite with Romania carries a different interpretation in Bucharest and Chisinau. While Romania declared a national holiday to celebrate the event, Moldovan President Igor Dodon (pictured) and his Party of Socialists (PSRM) have proposed outlawing the movement that favors reunification with Bucharest.

 

On Monday Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed the decree establishing 27 March as a national holiday, a day “that carries a special significance, namely of marking an important moment in Romanian history,” the official press release said. On that date in 1918, Bessarabia, a historic territory largely coinciding with present-day Moldova, voted in favor of union with neighboring Romania.

 

The press release also emphasized Romania's support for Moldova's European integration, “which is the only way to a prosperous future for Moldovans.” 

 

The law provoked immediate reactions from across the political spectrum in Chisinau, Ziarul de Garda writes. While pro-European liberals submitted a legislative proposal for a similar, official status for the anniversary in Moldova, Dodon’s party denounced the idea.

 

After Romania’s parliament voted in favor of establishing the holiday in mid-March the PSRM issued a press release expressing its concern that “Bucharest still sees Moldova as a former, and future, territorial annex to a greater Romania” and called the vote “proof that the unionist hysteria hasn't ended.”

 

Unionists argue that Moldova is historically, culturally, and linguistically part of a larger Romanian nation that was divided by the Russian and Ottoman empires.

 

On 28 March, during a press conference where he presented a summary of his first 100 days in office, cited by Ziarul National, Dodon also criticized Romania's initiative, on the grounds that “Romanians are our friends, our neighbors, and what do they do? They make 27 March a national holiday. On one hand, they say they don't support unionists, and on the other, look at what they do.”

 

Dodon also announced that the Moldovan parliament is reviewing a proposal to ban unionism, and said he wants Moldovan children to study their own history, not Romanian history.

 

Dodon also said he had asked for the resignation of Moldovan Minister of Education Corina Fusu for approving celebrations of the 1918 merger, adevarul.md reports.  

 

 

  • A recent Moldovan opinion poll, cited by adevarul.md, indicates that unionism is unpopular in Moldova and Romania alike. Sixty-four percent of Moldovan respondents, and 78 percent of Romanians, said they would vote against the two countries’ union.

 

  • History teaching in Moldova has been divided into the history of the Romanians and world history, with the Romanian segment at times optional, at others times mandatory.

 

  • Much of Bessarabia belonged to Russia from 1812 until 1917. The region was absorbed into the Soviet Union during World War II as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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