As a young Romanian child raised and educated between the end of the 90’s and the start of the new millennium, my parents and my school teachers were always telling me and my colleagues that the reunification of Romania and Bessarabia (Republic of Moldova’s original name) is just a question of time and patience. But as I got older and after I became a student in the domains of History and International Relations, I have realized that the problem is more sensitive than it seems. At this present moment, the reconstruction of the interwar Greater Romania (România Mare) is not just unlikely, but also unfavourable for both countries.
If we take a social stand point, the union is seen differently by the parties involved. In Romania, according to a poll released at the end of 2013, more than three quarters are in favour for the unification with Moldavia. But in Moldavia, only half of the population want to become Romanians. The Romanians like to consider this anti-unionist current in the former Soviet Republic as a consequence of the russification process that went down there during almost half of century. As time passed by, Bessarabia had becomesubject of a great colonization movement, the Romanian population was deported while their language and history had been forbidden in the country, the Russian culture was promoted, the Russian language was made official and the Romanians that were not adapting to these measures were marginalized. And putting the blame on these supositions is partially adecquateFurthermore, it forms an incomplete statement.
The complete truth is that there are also many Romanians ethnics in Moldavia feeling betrayed by their „mother-country” for leaving them behind when the Romanian army retreated during the Soviet ultimatums of 26th and 27th of July 1940. Even though Bessarabia was taken back between the years 1941-1944, it would be lost for good after 23rd August 1944, when Romania switched sides from the Axis to the Allies, with the promise from Stalin that it would not lose Transylvania.
Also, the Moldavians are in a situation that resembles the one in which the Eastern Germans were before and after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Some of them feel that the Romanians are arrogant and despaise them, while others feel that the independency of Chișinău is much more important for them than the reemergence of a Greater Romania. It could be considered that the merger of the two countries would cause a resentiment for the Bessarabians similar to the ostalgie that caractherized some Eastern Germans after the reunification of Germany. But problably the most important issue that will affect a future România Mare achievement will be the economical one.
According to IMF, Romania is one of the poorest countries in the European Union, with a GDP of 17.440 $ per capita, which places this EU country juston the 65th position worldwide. Meanwhile, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with a 4.666 $ per capita GDP ranking131st in the world. A possible merger of these two weak economies would make the future state really fragile. You can compare a future Romania composed from the two states with the 1990th Germany, acknowledging how difficult it was for them, from an economical point of view, to cope with the issues that appeared after the creation of a new state. But people must also keep in mindwhen comparing the two situations that RFG was one of the biggest economies in the world in 1989, while neither Romania nor Moldavia could ever dream to achieve that status
Having all theissues previously mentioned in mind, the best geopolitical decision for both Bucharest and Chisinau is that Moldova should pursue its accession to the European Union rather than the unitification with Romania. Bringing into notice the international situation that resulted in closer ties between the EU and Moldavia, now is the time for Chisinau auttorities to pursue its European integration. Of course, the road will be steep with a lot of roadblocks ahead: corruption, really poor economy, the Transnistria issue, but Moldavia’s European road should be the only concern of Chisinau authorities despite the results from the last elections that gave the most votes to pro-Russian party showing that over the Prut (the river that separates the two countries), a strong wave of Euroscepticism has started .
Though, a recompense policy could be used as a weapon to fight against this anti-EU current, rather than adopting coercive measures like Kremlin does against the pro-European Moldavians. Or, as Florin Diaconu, a senior researcher for the Diplomatic Institute of Romania said in an interview: after you drink for a thousand days good quality drinking water, which flows through the pipes coming from the EU and its paid from Romanian or European money, you can understand more easily, even if you are a Russian ethnic or a convinced Russophile, that the West is not at all an evil presence.
Regarding the situation of Romania, it can be noticed that after the Euro-Atlantic accession the country has become on auto-pilot, without a major national project to which it should strive for. Romanians do not have an idea or a plan that could unite them as a nation. Right before the Vilnius Summit from November 2013, the president Traian Băsescu at that time said that the next national plan for Romania should be the reunion with Bessarabia. This half patriotic, half populistic discourse was also repeated in the presidential campaign from 2014 by Băsescu’s rival, the Prime Minister Victor Ponta, without any success though. But the idea of a union between Romania and Republic of Moldavia attracted tens of thousands, especially young people, at a march in Bucharest in October 2014. While the politic leaders of Romania had been talking about the union, former foreign minister Titus Corlățeanu stated in an interview that Romania’s foreign policy is oriented towards the accession of Moldova in the EU.
In my opinion, the idea of supporting this European road for Chisinau is much more suitable for Romania than that of reuniting the two Romanian countries. In light of this argument, all the social and economic issues I presented earlier, and the opportunities that would arise for both countries once Moldavia becomes a European Union member serve as adherent explanations. When that will happen, the Moldavians will have access to the opportunities of the EU, without being afraid of Kremlin’s gestures. And this would lead to prosperity and harmony while nourishing strong relations not only with Romania, but also with all the other EU countries. Also it would be in Romania’s advantage to have a prosperous country on its Eastern border, rather than having a failed state.
Nevertheless, it will be a long road ahead before the Republic of Moldova will get access to the EU. It might never have the opportunity to do so in the immediate future. But Romania should embrace the role of a catalyst, accepting its role as a Euro-guide for Moldavia, rather than waking up the antiunion spirits in Moldavia, as recent talks about the union have done in the past years.