MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RAISES STAKES IN LANGUAGE DISPUTE.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 134
Moldovan president Mircea Snegur is currently consulting with selected parliamentary deputies, attempting to sway them into supporting his constitutional initiative to redesignate the country’s official language from Moldovan to Romanian. The president’s moves are bypassing the party leaderships and the parliamentary factions. Snegur is also vowing to block a referendum on the issue, which the parliamentary majority plans to propose in the certainty that the Moldovan option would win heavily. The president’s constitutional initiative follows his break with the governing Agrarian Democratic party and seeks to appeal to the pro-Romanian opposition. Snegur had previously promoted, together with the Agrarians, the Moldovan national identity as distinct from the Romanian. Parliamentary leaders are asking Snegur to drop his initiative in order to avoid a political confrontation, and the president is in turn intimating that he might dissolve the parliament if a confrontation ensues. (13)
The seemingly esoteric dispute is endemic to Moldova and carries potentially explosive political implications. The great majority of Moldova’s indigenous population (not to mention the ethnic minorities) fears that renaming the ethnos and its language to Romanian would pave the way to unification with Romania. The pro-Romanian opposition (20 seats in the 104-seat parliament) for its part hopes that the change of name would have precisely that effect, by changing the majority’s national awareness and facilitating international acceptance of a merger with Romania. Snegur is unlikely to seek such a merger. He is instrumentalizing the issue in his conflict with the parliament and government, but his chances are slim unless he resorts to authoritarian measures.
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