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news 04 Jan 17

Romanian Ex-President Loses Moldovan Citizenship

Moldova's combative new pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, has stripped Romania's former president Traian Basescu of his citizenship, accusing him of having pushed for Moldova to become part of Romania.

Ana Maria Touma
Moldova president Igor Dodon. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/PSRM.

Moldova’s new pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, signed a decree on Tuesday stripping former Romanian President Traian Basescu of his Moldovan citizenship. Dodon made the announcement on his Facebook account.

For the new Socialist head of state, who was inaugurated on December 23, the move was the fulfillment of one of the promises he made during his electoral campaign.

“As an MP in Moldova I have long said that Basescu was awarded citizenship illegally. Basescu repeatedly pushed for Romania to annex Moldova. When he was still president of Romania he refused to recognize Moldova’s statehood or the existence of the Moldovan people,” Dodon said.

He added that the former Moldovan President, Nicolae Timofti, who awarded Basescu and his wife Moldovan citizenship on June 9 2016, had committed a crime.

In reply, Basescu said that Dodon was acting in the interests of Russia - and defended his advocacy of Moldovan-Romanian union.

“Dodon wants Moldova on its knees under Moscow’s hegemony. I’d like a Moldova that walks the European path, and why not a Moldova united with Romania? I’m a unity advocate,” Basescu, who served as Romanian president between 2004 and 2014,  said.

Analyst in Moldova say that scrapping Basescu’s citizenship is just the latest move by Dodon to counter the influence of Romania, which ruled Moldova between the two world wars.

A day after he was inaugurated, the Moldovan presidency’s website also replaced the Romanian language, the official language of Moldova, with the Moldovan language, which is almost the same.

Before announcing his team, journalists also noticed that the European Union flag had disappeared from the presidency’s entrance.

Romanian political commentator Vlad Turcanu said Dodon’s actions were no surprise.

“I think we’ll have more of these actions in the future,” he predicted.

"He’s got a vengeful attitude. It’s like he’s been waiting to become president so he can take revenge [on pro-Romanian and pro-EU forces],” he added.

Eugen Tomac, a Romanian MP who was born in Moldova and is a member of Basescu’s Popular Movement Party, accused Dodon of “Stalinist behaviour”. 

Several politicians in Chisinau also criticized Dodon’s decision to strip Basescu of his Moldovan citizenship.

“If this is what he’s done first thing in his mandate, I dread his foreign policy agenda,” said former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca.

Maia Sandu, the former education minister who lost the election against Dodon in November, said she was worried about Dodon’s real priorities.

“The EU flag, the language on the presidency website, the citizenship of Romania’s ex-president – these are Dodon’s priorities, and he’ll be busy dealing with these urgent topics in the next few years. He couldn’t care less about our real problems”, she said.  

Journalist George Damian accused Dodon of doubel standards when dealing with supporters of union with Romania, and pro-Russian separatists in Transistria, the region that broke away from Moldova in the 1990s with Moscow's support.

“If having an opinion that favours unity with Romania is to be sanctioned with stripping someone of his citizenship, Dodon should strip several ministers of their citizenship," he said.

"As for Transnistria and all its people who voted in a referendum to join Russia, will Dodon strip them of their Moldovan citizenship?" he asked.

A day after stripping Basescu of his citizenship, Dodon met on Wednesday with Vadim Krasnoselski, the newly elected Transnistrian President.

The two discussed economics and the free movement of people, but they failed to make any political decision over Transnistria’s status.

The EU, Russia and Romania have long tussled for influence over Moldova and last year's presidential election was widely seen as a contest between those supporting closer ties with Russia and those wanting integration with the European Union.

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