Legal perspectives on the unification of the republic of Moldova with Romania. Will the history repeat itself?

Author:Dumitru Cazac
Pages:277-291
SUMMARY

The Great Union of 1918 has represented a fundamental step in the foundation of the contemporary Romanian state, whereas for Bessarabia it was a chance to retake its direction of evolution towards the west. Unfortunately, the history has separated it once again in 1944, in order to become an independent state named the Republic of Moldova, after a soviet era. Unionist tendencies were registered on both sides of the Prut river ever since 1991, and have augmented in the last years due to the worsening economic situation. This paper aims to make a legal analysis on a possible unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, taking into account, particularly, the EU member statute of Romania and the existence of a separatist region – Transnistria, as well as an autonomous territorial unit – Gagauzia, on the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

 
CONTENT
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 277
LEGAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE UNIFICATION
OF THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA WITH ROMANIA.
WILL THE HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF?
Dumitru Cazac
Abstract
The Great Union of 1918 has represented a fundamental step in the foundation of the
contemporary Romanian state, whereas for Bessarabia it was a chance to retake its direction of
evolution towards the west. Unfortunately, the history has separated it once again in 1944, in order
to become an independent state named the Republic of Moldova, after a soviet era. Unionist
tendencies were registered on both sides of the Prut river ever since 1991, and have augmented in the
last years due to the worsening economic situation. This paper aims to make a legal analysis on a
possible unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, taking into account, particularly, the
EU member statute of Romania and the existence of a separatist region – Transnistria, as well as an
autonomous territorial unit – Gagauzia, on the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
The place where the Romanian nation has appeared has always been at the
crossroads of interests between the eastern and western nations and represented
the key or the gate that separated Europe from Asia. From ancient times, the
nomadic tribes went through this space onto their way to Europe, while in
medieval ages, this territory was considered a „gatekeeper of Christendom”. Thus,
the geographical position of the birthplace of the Romanian nation was a priori a
less favourable for the existence of a strong and independent state. The
relationships of dependency with Turks and Habsburgs during the reign of
Stephen III of Moldavia and Michael the Brave have increased during the 17th-18th
centuries, with a new actor coming on the European stage – the Russian Empire.
The annexing of Bukovina and Bessarabia (Austria 1775, Russian Empire – 1812)
represented a hard blow for the „young” Romanian states that were in the process
of centralisation as well for the ethnical Romanian population. The effect of that
annexation is still being felt nowadays as only the southern part of Bukovina
belongs to Romania.
Law Review vol. VIII, issue 2, Jul
y
-December 2018, pp. 277-291
278 DUMITRU CAZAC
Russian annexation of Bessarabia
The history of Bessarabia begins in 1812, when the Russian Empire gave this
name to the territory annexed between the Dniester and the Prut rivers, as a result
of the end of the Russian-Turkish war of 1806 – 1812 and the concluding of the
Bucharest peace treaty on May 16/28, 1812. Therefore, the annexation of
Bessarabia is the first issue that should be analysed from a legal standpoint.
The International Statute of the Principality of Moldavia as well as of Walachia
was established through the „treaties” concluded with the Sublime Porte (Ottoman
Porte or Ottoman Empire). The body of those „treaties” were reconstituted and
presented by the Moldavian and Walachian delegations at the negotiations of
peace at Focsani, called „Capitulations”. According to these Capitulations,
Moldavia was considered a free territory without being subordinated to the
Ottoman Empire with a condition – not to act against its interests1. At the same
time, traditions, rights and prerogatives of Moldavia wouldn’t be harmed by the
Porte. These provisions were reaffirmed by the Moldavian ruler, Dimitrie
Cantemir, when at the Lutsk negotiations of peace he insisted that the Final Act of
the negotiations should include expressions referring to „old customs of
Moldavia” like „state borders”, „autonomy from Turks”, „internal organisation”
etc. These expressions represent nothing else than „the principles established by
the „Capitulations”, meaning that Moldavia is a free land that is redeemed
annually through various amounts of money advanced to the Porte”2.
Accordingly, we can ascertain that the Ottoman Empire had no right to
dispose of the territory of Moldavia during the Bucharest peace negotiations, and
cede it to the Russian Empire. Consequently, nor the Russian Empire had a right to
the annexation of Bessarabia, an abusive process, performed with the violation of
national rights of the people that populated that land. It should be mentioned that
at the time, the European powers were feuds. France, England, Austria and Prussia
were pursuing their own interests using small states as figures on a chess board.
Despite certain rumours regarding a betrayal on the Turkish side of negotiators3,
that issue is less important for the resulted legal outcomes.
1 Giurescu, C., „Capitulaiile Moldovei cu Poarta Otoman. Studiu istoric”, Bucharest, 1908.
2 Caragea, A, „Epoca renaşterii naionale”, Bucharest University, 2003, p.33.
3 For additional information, please consult Vasilos, V., „Marile Puteri şi Anexarea Basarabiei la
1812”, at http://utm.md/meridian/2012/MI_3_2012/14_Art_Vasilos_Anexarea_Basarabiei_la_1812.
pdf last accessed at 15.11.2018.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 279
After the annexation, Bessarabia became a relatively autonomous region of the
Russian Empire between 1812-18284, while in 1828 it gained the statute of a tsarist
colony directly subordinated to Moscow5. In 1873, Bessarabia lost its privileged
statute and was transformed into an ordinary tsarist gubernyia6.
The Union of Bessarabia with the Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania, at the beginning of the First World War,
represented a small country that faced two strong and opposite European powers
as neighbours: Russia and Austria. After a short period of neutrality, Romania
engaged in the war, siding with the Entente Powers, as a result of the decision
taken at the Crown Council, despite there being some opposing voices7. One of the
reasons which has justified the decision was the liberation of Transylvania and
Bukovina, and the simultaneous giving up on Bessarabia. In the author’s opinion, a
key factor that influenced that decision was the national Romanian movement in
Transylvania and Banat that has generated numerous student communities,
especially abroad, one of the most famous ones being – „Scoala Ardeleana”
(Transylvanian School). With regards to Bessarabia, the things were different,
mainly because of the Moscow’s policy of denationalisation and repopulation of
this territory with Armenians, Greeks, Jews etc. According to some statistics, the
percentage of ethnic Romanians in Bessarabia had dropped from 86 in 1816 to 56 in
19108. That circumstance will play an important role in understanding how
unification with Romania was made on March 27, 1918.
In Bessarabia, a general state of chaos and anarchy created by Russian
revolution was felt once the Russian soldiers were retreating from the front, in a
completely confusing way, accompanied by actions of robbery and marauding
against the civil population. At the same time, it may be said that the fall of the
tsarist regime facilitated a national movement promoting Romanian culture, but
one of the main aims of that movement was to obtain autonomy and independence
from the Russian Empire. First calls appeared within the reunions of professionals
and soldiers. Thus, on April 18, 1917, The Moldovan soldiers’ reunion of Odessa
4https://www.nationalmuseum.md/ro/timetape/xix_1812_1828/perioada_autonomiei_relativ
e_a_basarabiei_in_cadrul_imperiului_rus/ last accessed at 15.11.2018.
5https://www.nationalmuseum.md/ro/timetape/xix_1828_1864/suprimarea_autonomiei_basa
rabia_o_noua_colonie_tarista/ last accessed at 15.11.2018.
6 https://www.nationalmuseum.md/ro/timetape/xix_1864_1905/epoca_reformelor_si_conse
cintele_lor/ last accessed at 15.11.2018.
7 Agrigoroaiei, I., in „România. Marea Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I., ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi,
2017, p.15.
8 Calafeteanu I., Moisuc V.-P., „Unirea Basarabiei şi a Bucovinei cu România” in „România. Marea
Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I. ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017, p.220.
280 DUMITRU CAZAC
decided to claim that „Bessarabia should not act like a subordinate country, but in
a free way…The language of teaching in all schools should be the language of the
people (Moldovan)… Moldovans should not be taken into military service abroad
of Bessarabia.”9. In a similar way, in the „Manifesto of the Committee of Moldovan
Teachers” it was mentioned that „after the Russian revolution overthrew the old
government that was guilty of oppressing the people, the Moldovans from
Bessarabia and over the Dniester River were finally free, after a long period of
waiting, to decide their own fate”10.
A description of the general state of facts in Bessarabia in the autumn 1917 was
made by the Romanian Consulate in Ismail, by means of a report addressed to the
I.I.C.Bratianu. According to this report, „under the old regime, ethnical Romanians
from Bessarabia registered a poor cultural movement aimed at cultivating in their
minds a sense of love for language and nation…considering the interferences of
the Russian state with the aim of denationalisation of all non-Russian subjects of
the Empire, the ethnical Romanians from Bessarabia were refraining from openly
showing their feelings and that was the reason why it was hard to create a large
national Romanian movement, because of the harsh regime that did not allow
it….Once the freedom in Russia obtained, all the enslaved nations of the large
Empire awakened, and felt that it was the moment to impose their right to
existence…Romanian ethnics of Bessarabia, led by the same feelings, have revived
and founded the „National Moldovan Party”. The program of the party aims at, a
priori, unification of all Moldovans form Bessarabia and Podolia and the most
suitable way of achieving this is – the autonomy of Bessarabia”11.
In order to establish an effective control over the situation created in
Bessarabia, the military took initiative. On October 7, 1917, the Central Moldovan
Committee sent a telegram to the commanders of military units to gather the
Assembly of Moldovan Military12 in Chisinau, on October 20th. In its resolutions,
the Assembly established: „to declare the territorial and political autonomy of
Bessarabia”, the nationalisation of the Moldovan army, organisation of elections
and creation of a legislative body – „Sfatul Tarii” for the governance of
Bessarabia13.
Sfatul Tarii began its activity on November 21, 1917. It brought together
representatives of various committees and parties, as well as ethnic and national
minorities. The first meeting was attended by the following speakers: I. Inculet
(elected president), P. Halippa (on behalf of the National Moldovan Party),
9 Calafeteanu I., Moisuc V.-P., „Unirea Basarabiei şi a Bucovinei cu România” in „România. Marea
Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I. ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017, p. 29.
10 Ibidem, p.30.
11 Ibidem, p. 44.
12Each military company was requested to delegate two soldiers and one officer.
13 Ibidem, p.59.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 281
P. Erhan (on behalf of the Peasants’ Party), lt. Cotoros (on behalf of the Moldovan
Soldiers Committee), Al. K. Schmidt (the mayor of Chisinau city), V. Tantu (on
behalf of the organisational bureau of Sfatul Tarii), mr. Dobrovolschi (on behalf of
the Council of deputies, workers and soldiers of Bessarabia), mr. Lutenco
(Ukrainian Rada representative), mr. Luzghin (on behalf of the Judiciary), mr.
Neselson (on behalf of the labor and soldiers’ councils of Chisinau), G. Pantea (on
behalf of the Central Moldovan Soldiers Committee), mr. Matkievici (the
representative of the Ukrainian fraction in Bessarabia), mr. Cogan (on behalf of the
revolutionary socialists), E.Alistar (on behalf of the Cultural League of the
Moldovan Women in Bessarabia), G. Mare (on behalf of the Moldovan soldiers
from the front), N.E. Grinfeld (on behalf of the Russian social-democratic party),
mr. Pomorski (on behalf of the national polish party), mr. Sinadino (on behalf of
the Greeks), mr. Stoianov (on behalf of Bulgarians and Gagauzians), S.L. Covarski
(the representative of proletarian Jews united in Bund party), representatives of the
press „Cuvânt moldovenesc”, „Glasul Ardealului”, „Soldatul moldovan”,
representatives of students and the church14. Consequently, it should be said that
this body was greatly representative of the people living in Bessarabia, as it
involved representatives from almost all the ethnic groups, guilds and professional
organisations. As a result of the first session, the main course of action was
established – Bessarabia to be an autonomous republic within the Federative
Russia.
On December 2, 1917, the new legislative body, Sfatul Tarii, declared
Bessarabia – the Moldovan Democratic Republic within the Russian Federal
Democratic Republic. In the declaration of Sfatul Tarii it was mentioned that
„before the convocation of the national people’s assembly of the Moldovan
Republic, which will be elected by the whole population in a rightful and secret
way, according to the proportionality system, the highest forum of the Moldovan
Democratic Republic is Sfatul Tarii, made up of the representatives of all the
revolutionary democratic organisations of different nations and the representatives
of the zemstva and counties”15. The main reason mentioned in the declaration was
the lack of an effective control of Russian central authorities and the lack of
capacity to face the pressure of the revolution simultaneously with carrying out
war actions.
The Moldovan Democratic Republic, a recently created state, after almost 100
years of foreign dominations, being in the middle of revolutionary processes in the
Empire, was in an urgent need of support in order to obtain and maintain control
over all strategical objects, taking into consideration that its territory was
14 Dare de seam asupra lucrrilor Sfatului rii, 21 noiembrie 1917, in journal„Ardealul
(Transilvania)”, Chişinu, nr. 9, November 26, 1917.
15 Declaraia Sfatului rii, 2 decembrie 1917, in journal „Cuvânt Moldovenesc”, nr. 110, December
6, 1917.
282 DUMITRU CAZAC
„besieged” by Russian military groups that generated chaos and panic among
civilians. To this end, the General Directors Council of the Moldovan Republic16
asked for help the Romanian Government, by requesting to urgently send an
Transylvanian regiment, request that was approved on December 24, 1917.
Since the Transylvanian regiment could not stop the anarchy and faced a
strong resilience from Bolshevik troops, Romania sent new forces, driven by the
Entente and supported by the Central powers, in a large enough number, aiming
to restore the public order. The purpose of entering Bessarabia by the Romanian
troops shall become a matter of dispute. However, according to several historical
documents, among which Iasi Minister’s of France Diplomatic Note to the French
Consul in Chisinau17, mentioning that the purpose of entering Bessarabia by the
Romanian troops is only a military one, aiming to ensure the normal functioning of
the Russian-Romanian front back, according to the rules applicable to all
belligerent states. Moreover, even the Sfatul Tarii Declaration of Independence of the
Moldovan Republic18mentions the role played by the Romanian army in improving
the public order and the fact that „there is no other aim than this. All the rumours
that the Romanians come to take this territory and rule over it do not match the
truth and are dispersed by the enemies of our Republic. The fact that Romanian
troops do not interfere with our independence and rights obtained through
revolution is confirmed by France, England and America, by their testimonials, as
well as the declarations of the Romanian representatives”.
On March 27, 1918, Sfatul Tarii declared the unification with Romania. One of
the most important reasons that formed the basis of that decision was the threat
coming from the Ukrainian Republic that intended to occupy Bessarabia and
incorporate it into its territory. Ukrainian intentions are proved by some historical
documents such as: the Telegram of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to the
German, Austro-Hungary, Turk, Bulgarian and Romanian Governments, the Diplomatic
Note of the Government of the Moldovan People’s Republic to the Republic of Ukraine, The
Minutes of the Sfatul Tarii session of March 16, 191819. At the same time, the
unification was also legally founded. The pertinent arguments can be found
directly in the Declaration of Unification of Bessarabia with Romania, „Moldovan
Democratic Republic (Bessarabia)… ruptured by Russia from the old Moldova, one
hundred years ago, based on the historical and national rights, taking into
consideration the principle of self-determination of nations, from today onwards,
16 Who played the role of Government, being approved on December 7, 1917, led by Pantelimon
Erhan.
17 Consulted and available in Calafeteanu I., Moisuc V.-P., „Unirea Basarabiei şi a Bucovinei cu
România” in „România. Marea Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I. ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017, p. 144.
18 Calafeteanu I., Moisuc V.-P., „Unirea Basarabiei şi a Bucovinei cu România” in „România. Marea
Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I. ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017,, pp. 148-150.
19 All consulted and available in Calafeteanu I., Moisuc V.-P., „Unirea Basarabiei şi a Bucovinei cu
România” in „România. Marea Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I., ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 283
unites with her mother, Romania”. The Declaration was promulgated by the King
of Romania on April 9, 1918. The international recognition of the unification of
Bessarabia with Romania came with the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty by
France, the United Kingdom and Italy. Russia was not present at the negotiation
process and that was considered a ground of non-singing the treaty by the United
States.
A couple of legal arguments upon the legitimacy of the unification can be
found in the correspondence between the government of Romania and the
government of the Republic of Ukraine during 13 April – 19 June 1918. The most
complex ones are written in the Response of the Romanian Government to the
Diplomacy Note of the Government of Ukraine of May 5th, 1918, which are
demonstrating that Bessarabia is not a separate province but a half of the old
Moldova, that Russia ruptured in 1812. Therefore, „from a historical and
geographical point of view, the so-called province of Bessarabia was always been a
Romanian land which formed an integral and indivisible part of the Moldavian
Principality”. Moreover, this Response discards any doubts regarding the
competence and status of Sfatul Tarii to act as a representative body and have the
power to decide the unification as follows: „It should be considered as a principle
of legality of this kind of assemblies [Sfatul Tarii] that it should perform
universally accepted acts and recognised in a manner that would appear to be the
legal expression of the nation and the decisions of that body were adopted in the
virtue of the principle of self-determination of the nations. From that point of view,
it is beyond any doubt that after the fall of the tsarist regime, Sfatul Tarii governed
openly and publicly Bessarabia, without any interruptions and in an independent
way, functioned as a representative legal body and supreme authority in
Bessarabia, without anyone challenging its rights and legitimacy…”.
Republic of Moldova – an independent state
Events that followed after 1940, namely the occupation of the territory of
Bessarabia by the U.S.S.R., its liberation by the Axis Powers and the creation of the
Moldovan Soviet Socialistic Republic once the war was completed are of a high
complexity and need to be examined in a separate extensive analysis that exceeds
this paper. However, it is important to mention that „without any challenge or
justification and in a flagrant contradiction with previous political commitments,
especially those contained in provisions assumed by the London Conventions for
the Definition of Aggression (July 3, 1933) and the Soviet-Romanian Pact of Mutual
Assistance of 1936, the Soviet Union has submitted an ultimatum to the Romanian
Government, on June 26, 1940, for an immediate evacuation of Bessarabia and the
284 DUMITRU CAZAC
North Bukovina”20. That action could not happen without a preliminary agreement
between Germany and the U.S.S.R., which resulted in the Secret Protocol to the
Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, condemned, even „formally”21 by the Russian
Federation.
On February 10, 1947, with the consent and under pressure of the victorious
Main Powers of the WWII, Romania and the Soviet Union signed a border treaty
(as a part of the Paris Peace Treaty) according to which the common border was
„fixed in conformity with the Soviet-Romanian Agreement of June 28, 1940”, even
that no such agreement existed, as the Romanian Government only responded to
the ultimatum by a note which mentioned that „in order to avoid the grave
consequences which could happen resulting from the use of force and opening of
the hostilities in this part of Europe, is compelled to accept the evacuation
conditions, as these are mentioned in the soviet note”22.
The Soviet period in Bessarabia (the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic
created by U.S.S.R. on August 2, 1940) continued after the end of WWII until
August 27, 1991, when the Republic of Moldova claimed its independence. With
regards to its territory, the Republic of Moldova in comparison with Bessarabia no
longer possessed the Romanian districts Hotin, Ismail and Cetatea Alba (ceded to
the Ukrainian SSR) but gained a territory named Transnistria (an artificially
created state by the U.S.S.R. in 1924 – the Autonomous Moldavian Socialist Soviet
Republic, with the purpose to afterwards claim the territory of Bessarabia and form
an union in a single Moldavian state). The fact that Transnistria (vastly populated
by Russian and Ukrainian ethnics) „woke up over night” as a territory within the
Republic of Moldova as a key factor in triggering the Moldovan-Russian War of
1992, and because of which the Republic of Moldova is currently facing territorial
integrity issues.
Legally speaking, it is substantial to analyse the Declaration of Independence of
the Republic of Moldova. Thus, the Declaration reminds that the acts of
dismemberment of 1775 and 1812 were contrary to the historical and people’s
rights and to the legal statute of the Principality of Moldova. Also, it underlines
that „without consulting the people of Bessarabia, North Bukovina and the Hertza
region, occupied by force on June 28, 1940, as well as the people of A.M.S.S.R.
(Transnistria) created on October 12, 1924, the Supreme Council of the U.S.S.R.,
violating its constitutional prerogatives, on August 2, 1940, adopted the „U.S.S.R.
Law related to the creation of the Moldavian Union S.S.R.” , while its Presidium
had issued on November 4, 1940, „the Decree regarding to the Ukrainian-
20 Dobrinescu, F., Tompea, D., „România la cele dou Conferine de Pace de la Paris” in „România.
Marea Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I., ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017, p. 49.
21 https://www.svoboda.org/a/1813249.html last consulted on 17.11.2018.
22 Dobrinescu, F., Tompea, D., „România la cele dou Conferine de Pace de la Paris” in „România.
Marea Unire 1918-2018”, coord. Scurtu, I., ed. Tipo Moldova, Iaşi, 2017, p. 51.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 285
Moldovan border”, normative acts which were designed to justify, in absence of
any real legally basis, the dismemberment of these territories and the membership
of the new republic to the U.S.S.R.”. Consequently, once these facts were
recognised, nothing should have impeded the unification with Romania. Besides,
at that moment the official state language was Romanian (from August 1989), the
national flag was (Romanian) the tricolor and the national anthem was (Romanian)
„Deşteapt-te române” (engl. tr. Awaken, Romanian!). Nevertheless, it appears
that there was no political will to promote the idea of unification right after
claiming the independence or even instead of it.
Is the unification possible today?
The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova provides at art. 1 that it is a
sovereign, independent, unitary and indivisible state, while the art. 2 mentions that
national sovereignty resides with the people of the Republic of Moldova. At the
same time, art. 32 par. (3) underlines that „ The law shall forbid and prosecute all
actions aimed at denying and slandering of the State and people, instigation to
sedition, war of aggression, national, racial or religious hatred, incitement to
discrimination, territorial separatism, public violence, or other manifestations
encroaching upon the constitutional order.”. Moreover, art. 41 par. (4) provides
that „ Parties and other socio-political organisations, whose objectives or activities
are engaging in fighting against political pluralism, the principles of the rule of
law, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of
Moldova are declared unconstitutional.”. Finally, it is important to look at art. 142
par. (1) that stipulates „ The provisions regarding the sovereignty, independence
and unity of the state, as well as those regarding the permanent neutrality of the
State may be revised only by referendum with the vote of the majority of the
registered citizens with voting rights.”23.
Thus, according to art. 142 par. (1) of the Constitution of Republic of Moldova,
the provisions of art. 1 could be modified if the citizens decide it by way of
referendum. Hence, the legislator provided for an instrument which in a case of
necessity can trigger the process of unification. At the same time, according to the
provisions of art. 32 par.(3) and art. 41 par. (4), it is prohibited to promote activities
that would deny the State, national sovereignty and independence, as well as the
constitutional order taken by natural persons or political parties. It is most likely
that in a case of expression of a people’s will to unify, through a referendum, those
provisions could be modified or even lose their value and become obsolete.
However, those provisions are part of the supreme law of the Republic of
23 Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, consulted and available on http://www.prese
dinte.md/eng/constitution, last accessed on 17.11.2018.
286 DUMITRU CAZAC
Moldova. Under these circumstances, a question may be raised: How is it possible
to take actions in support of revisions of constitutional provisions regarding state
independence and sovereignty (a eventual unification) since such actions are
prohibited?
Notwithstanding, in practice the unionist ideas are promoted in the Republic
of Moldova by several organisations ie Tinerii Moldovei and ODIP, which alongside
with other organisation established ie Blocul Unitatii Nationale (engl tr. Block of the
National Unity). Moreover, the unification ideas are also promoted by political
parties like PNL (National Liberal Party) (that included the policy of unification in
its political program)24 and Liberal Party, whose leader – Mihai Ghimpu, while in
office of President of the Parliament and ad interim the President of the Republic of
Moldova, was declaring himself an unionist25.
Moreover, we shall note the policy of Romania related to the grant of the
Romanian citizenship and the role it plays in implicitly promoting the idea of
unification. In this way, according to the Romanian Law on citizenship „The
persons who acquired the Romanian citizenship by birth or adoption and have lost
it for reasons non-imputable to them or this citizenship has been revoked without
their consent, as well as their descendants to the third degree, can apply to
reacquire or can be granted the Romanian citizenship, having the possibility to
maintain the foreign citizenship and to establish their residence in the country or to
maintain it abroad, if they comply with the conditions stipulated [afore mentioned
provisions].”26. These provisions clearly target the citizens of the Republic of
Moldova, descendants of the citizens of Romania who lived within the territory of
Bessarabia (Great Romania) during 1918 – 1940. According to some statistics27,
during 1914 – 2014, approximately 445.000 Moldavian citizens reacquired the
Romanian citizenship, while by 201828 the number became close to 1 million. The
fact that a very large number of Moldavian nationals acquire the Romanian
citizenship could be regarded as a beginning of a process of national cohesion of all
Romanians and could play a key role in achieving the unification.
Accession to the European Union has meant for Romania a transfer of a part of
its sovereignty to the first. According to the art. 148 par. (1) of the Constitution of
Romania, „Romania's accession to the constituent treaties of the European Union,
with a view to transferring certain powers to community institutions, as well as to
24 http://pnl.md/?page_id=1556 last accesed at 17.11.2018.
25 https://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-esential-6115295-mihai-ghimpu-daca-spun-vorbesc-limba-
romana-asta-nu-inseamna-sunt-pentru-unirea-moldovei-romania.htm last accesed at 17.11.2018.
26 http://www.migrant.ro/citizenship-law last accessed on 17.11.2018.
27 https://cetatenie.ro/noutate/Statistica-Cati-cetateni-moldoveni-au-obtinut-cetatenie-romana-
pana-in-prezent last accessed on 17.11.2018.
28 https://adevarul.ro/cultura/patrimoniu/un-milion-moldoveni-cetatenia-romana-1_58df4b7e
5ab6550cb8de564a/index.html; http://stiri.tvr.ro/aproape-1-milion-de-ceta--eni-moldoveni-au-ob--
inut-ceta--enia-romana-in-ultimii-10-ani_829497.html#view last accesed on 17.11.2018.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 287
exercising in common with the other member states the abilities stipulated in such
treaties, shall be carried out by means of a law adopted in the joint sitting of the
Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, with a majority of two thirds of the number
of deputies and senators.”. Simultaneously with the entry into force of the Lisbon
Treaty, these attributions refer mostly to the economical and social sectors,
common security and foreign policy. Meanwhile, Romania remained a sovereign,
independent, unitary, indivisible and National State where national sovereignty
resides with the Romanian people. Accordingly, the citizens of Romania have the
same rights (like Moldavian citizens) to decide upon the unification with the
Republic of Moldova.
Consequently, I would like to refer to the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act
of 1975, that allows for changing of state’s frontiers, according to the norms of
international law, by peaceful means and agreements. Therefore, if the Moldavian
citizens shall decide to unify with Romania, and the Romanian citizens shall accept
that, the unification shall be possible and accepted as legal, according to
international law.
The situation becomes a little bit more complex if we keep in mind that the
Republic of Moldova „hosts” on its territory an Autonomous Territorial Unit of
Gagauzia and de jure Transnistria which de facto is a self-proclaimed Pridnestrovian
Moldavian Republic and is not controlled by the central Government of Chisinau.
The legal status of Gagauzia is provided by the Law No. 344 of 23.12.199429.
According to art. 1 par. (4), „In case of change of the status of the Republic of
Moldova as an independent state the people of Gagauzia have the right of external
self-determination.”. Taking into consideration that the people living in Gagauzia
have expressed several times their attitude against the unification with
Romania3031, the consequences which may result in an eventual unification can
have a major impact that could generate the separation of this territory and making
an attempt to create a new state.
In the case of Transnistria, things are much more difficult. The fact that
Transnistria is a part of the Republic of Moldova is recognised by the international
community, including the Russian Federation32 by submitting its position in the
29 http://www.e-democracy.md/files/elections/law-special-legal-status-gagauzia-23-12-1994-
en.pdf last accessed on 17.11.2018.
30 https://adevarul.ro/moldova/politica/gagauzia-fost-unirii-romania-irina-vlah-cei-fac-
declaratii-despre-unire-nu-vor-primiti-gagauzia-1_5a44f2cdd7af743f8dcf480f/index.html last accesed
on 17.11.2018.
31 https://www.ziarulnational.md/gagauzii-speriati-de-unirea-r-moldova-cu-romania-ce-le-cer-
autoritatilor-de-la-chisinau-turciei-rusiei-dar-si-organizatiei-natiunilor-unite/ last accessed on
17.11.2018.
32 https://regnum.ru/news/1471548.html last accessed on 17.11.2018.
288 DUMITRU CAZAC
Ilaşcu Case33. Paradoxically, in the same case, the European Court of Human Rights
established that the Russian Federation maintains a de facto control over
Transnistria. The issue of Transnistria is not singular in the ex-soviet space. Similar
self-proclaimed republics appeared in Georgia (Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia), in
Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh) and more recently in Ukraine (the Donetsk
Popular Republic and Lugansk Popular Republic). The phenomenon of frozen
conflicts is a very complex one and until now there were no solutions found in
order to solve it. However, small progresses were registered in the case of
Transnistria, due to the negotiations of the 5+2 format that allowed for concluding
some minor agreements that would facilitate the wellbeing of the people34.
Speaking from an international law standpoint, in the case of Transnistria it is
important to mention the instrument of succession of the states. I have previously
mentioned that in 1940, the U.S.S.R. made some territorial changes to Bessarabia,
by ceding some lands to the Ukrainian S.S.R. and incorporating the A.M.S.S.R.
(Transnistria) created in 1924. Consequently, Transnistria (except for the city of
Bender lost in 1992 in the war) has never been a territory belonging to the
Principality of Moldova, Bessarabia or Great Romania (1918-1940). As I pointed
before, Transnistria just „woke up over night” when the Republic of Moldova was
claiming independence and tried to obtain its own independence. Similar to 1992,
the ethnic component of the population is mainly formed by Russians and
Ukrainians and does not have anything in common with the Romanian culture and
values. Therefore, if the citizens of Republic of Moldova shall decide to unify, it is
almost certain that tensions in Transnistria shall resume, escalate and further result
in a new armed conflict and a request of recognition of its independence, which, in
this case, could be obtained.
The European Union does not have an official position on the subject of
unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania. This issue exceeds the
competences of the EU and represents an internal matter on both states, according
to the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of the states. At the same
time, the European Union supports the aspirations of the Republic of Moldova in
terms of European integration and does not exclude its accession35. Moreover, the
EU also supports the reintegration of the Republic of Moldova, especially by
extending the provisions of the DCFTA over Transnistria36.
33 https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{"fulltext":["ilascu"],"documentcollectionid2":["GRAND
CHAMBER","CHAMBER"],"itemid":["001-61886"]} last accessed on 17.11.2018.
34 https://noi.md/md/news_id/257377. las accessed on 17.11.2018.
35 Emerson M., Cenuş, D. „Deepening EU-Moldova Relations. What?why? and how?” second edition,
ed. Rowman & Littlefield International, London, 2018, p.13.
36 http://dcfta.md/acordul-de-liber-schimb-in-partea-stanga-a-nistrului-cu-pasi-mici-spre-
integrarea-economica last accessed on 17.11.2018.
Legal perspectives on the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania 289
Conclusions
The transfer of a part of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia from the
Ottoman Empire to the Russian Empire was an act contrary to international law.
Overcoming the consequences of this act became possible in 1918, when Sfatul
Tarii, the representative and legislative body, claimed the independence of the
Moldavian Democratic Republic and, afterwards, the unification with Romania.
The reasons for claiming unification, however, were mainly military and political
rather than based on an awareness of the unique character of Romanian nation.
That land was ruptured once again in 1940, by the law of force applied by the
U.S.S.R. that made territorial changes whose effects are felt even today. Per
consequence, if the issue of unification became a real subject of a discussion, the
conflicting actions in Transnistria may easily erupt again.
Beside the fact that premises for unification existed in 1991, (see the Preamble
of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova, were the
Parliament condemned the acts of dismemberment of the territory), when the
Republic of Moldova declared its independence, it still hasn’t happened. I can
assuredly affirm that, on the one side, a strong popular desire is required from the
Moldavian people and, on the other side, Romania may play a significant role by
means of its policy on the acquisition of citizenship.
Romania is a member state of the European Union, which is currently in the
process of creating a closer union among its nations. This proves to be a most
favourable chance for Romanians, or where a rapprochement between the
Romanian people and other European nations exists, it is only logical and natural
that Romanians should not be separated for historical reasons37.
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