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news 16 Oct 17

Moldova MPs Push to Make Romanian Official Tongue

Moldovan MPs are moving to change the constitution to replace the Moldovan language with Romanian, despite opposition from pro-Russian president.

Madalin Necsutu
 Parliament building in Chisinau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Pudelek.

A group of ruling Liberal Democrat MPs plan to amend Moldova’s constitution so that Romanian becomes the official language instead of Moldovan, as the law currently states.

The Liberal Democrats last Thursday said that they had collected the 34 signatures needed to submit the draft to the Constitutional Court for approval.

“We hope that in the near future, with a vote by all MPs, we will modify this article [13] in the constitution and restore historical truth,” said Tudor Deliu, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and the initiator of the draft.

If the Constitutional Court approves the change, the draft has to go through a vote in parliament and get a two-thirds majority.

The Speaker of Parliament, Andrian Candu, who is also deputy chairman of the ruling party, last week said that Romanian should be the official language, and that the party was planning to amend the constitution to confirm the state’s pro-European identity and orientation.

However, the pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, vowed on Friday to block the language bill. “I hope it will not get the 64 necessary votes in parliament. And even if they vote for it, I will not promulgate the law. Our state language is Moldovan. It was, it is, and so it will be,” Dodon stressed.

The Constitutional Court already ruled back in 2013 that the state language was Romanian.

The court ruled that the phrase “the Romanian language”, used in the 1991 Declaration of Independence, took legal precedence over over the phrase “Moldovan language”, which is used in the constitution.

Ex-Constitutional Court president Alexandru Tănase told BIRN that it was time for MPs to bring Article 13 of the Constitution in line with the court’s 2013 decree.

“It would … bring clarity to the constitutional text,” he said, adding that the change was “more of a technical nature, not a matter of substance”.

Confusion over the name of the official language reflects the conflicted identity of the country, which has oscillated between Romanian and Russian rule an remains torn between East and West.

Formerly part of the Tsarist Empire, it became part of Romania after World War I, before the Soviet Union annexed it after World War II. It then became an independent state as the USSR broke up.

However, independence has failed to resolve the question of whether the country should be linked primarily to the West and Romania, or to Russia.

Under Soviet rule, to weaken memories of Romanian rule, the authorities promoted a specific “Moldovan” language”, which was little more than Romanian rendered into the Cyrillic script instead of the Latin alphabet.

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