On March 16, 2023, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted Law No. 52 on the Implementation of the Considerations of Certain Decisions of the Constitutional Court. The purpose of the new law is to replace “Moldovan” with “Romanian” as the country’s only official language.
Background to the Adoption of Law No. 52
Article 13(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova currently in force refers to the national language as Moldovan. Moldova’s 1991 Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union stipulated that Romanian is the official language.
On December 5, 2013, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova delivered its Judgment on the Interpretation of Article 13 Para. (1) Inter-related with the Preamble of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova.
With regard to the question of the country’s official language, the court took into consideration the written opinion of the then-president of Moldova, who exhorted that “the official name of the state’s language must be determined only in terms of scientific truth, with no political interference.” The court also cited the Moldovan Academy of Sciences’ assertion that “the official language of the Republic of Moldova is Romanian and the phrase ‘Moldovan language, based on Latin alphabet’ of the Article 13 para. (1) of the Constitution can be equalized semantically with the Romanian language,” and that “the official language of the Republic of Moldova shall operate on the basis of orthographic rules of the Romanian language.”
The court then issued its unappealable ruling that the “Declaration of Independence is an integral part of the Constitution,” and when differences between the text of the Declaration of Independence and the text of the Constitution arise, the “primary constitutional text of the Declaration of Independence prevails.”
Overview of the Law
The new law provides for changing references to the country’s official national language in the Constitution and in all legislative texts published by the country from Moldovan to Romanian, and replacing terms such as “state language,” “official language,” and “native language” with the term “Romanian language.” (Law No. 52, art. 1.)
This law also provides that the phrase “functioning based on the Latin script” in article 13(1) of the Constitution is to be considered obsolete. (Art. 2.)
The law also charged the Legal Information Resources Agency of the Republic of Moldova with amending all the relevant regulations in the State Register of Legal Acts Information System within 30 days after the law’s entry into force on April 15, 2023.
Iana Fremer, Law Library of Congress
April 24, 2023
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