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Moldova: Romanian Recognized as the Official Language

(Dec. 23, 2013) On December 5, 2013, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova ruled that the Romanian language is the official language of this country. (Press Release, Constitutional Court of Moldova, The Text of the Declaration of Independence Prevails over the Text of the Constitution (Dec. 5, 2013).) Mihai Ghimpu, the leader of the Moldova’s Liberal Party, and some members of the national legislature initiated the case on the matter; they asked the Court to clarify a contradiction between the 1991 Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of Moldova of 1994. (Id.)

The Declaration of Independence adopted by the Parliament of Moldova on August 27, 1991, confirmed the validity of legislation of 1989 that reintroduced the Romanian language and the Latin alphabet in Moldova. (Declaration of Independence (Aug. 27, 1991), Presidency of the Republic of Moldova website.) The Constitution of Moldova adopted on July 29, 1994, states, however, “[t]he State language in the Republic of Moldova is the Moldavian language, and its writing is based on the Latin alphabet.” (Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, art. 13(1) Presidency of the Republic of Moldova website (last visited Dec. 18, 2013).)

Basing its conclusions on the fact that “the Romanian nation is organized as two Romanian states – Romania and Moldova,” the Constitutional Court decided 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.” The Court confirmed that the official language of the Republic of Moldova is Romanian, not Moldavan. (Press Release, supra.)

Romanian President Traian Basescu praised the decision of the Constitutional Court, saying, “through this decision an act of justice is made in regard to the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova, an act of justice for the Moldovans, for those who feel they are Romanians.” He added that the ruling “brings to an end the cultural and linguistic mystifications in the Republic of Moldova.” (Adriana Vaida, Romanian – Official Language of R. Moldova, Chisinau CC Rules, NINEOCLOCK.RO (Dec. 5, 2013).)

These “mystifications” started after the inclusion of the present-day Moldovan territory in the Soviet Union in 1940. Despite the fact that this territory was historically populated by ethnic Romanians who spoke the same Romanian language, the Soviet authorities attempted to break all ties between Moldova and the neighboring Kingdom of Romania, imposing “two states, two people” policies aimed at minimizing western, Romanian influence. These policies included the imposition of an official ideology that stated that Moldavan and Romanian are two different languages, despite the fact that it is now agreed that “people in Moldova speak the same language as the citizens of Romania do, but only with a specific dialect.” (Court Ruled Romanian as Moldova’s Official Language, MOLDOVA.ORG (Dec. 5, 2013).)