War of Alphabets in Transnistria. European Court of Human Rights and the 'Catan Case

AuthorRuxandra Alexianu
Globalization and Cultural Diversity
War of Alphabets in Transnistria.
European Court of Human Rights and the “Catan Case”
Ruxandra Alexianu1
Abstract: The main purpose of this paper is to present and analyze the European Court of Human Rights
Judgment on the question of violation of human rights regarding lan guage and script use in Transnistrian
schools. This research is important in the field of globalization and cultural differences because it studies the
intercourse between the legal issues and the political implications of an ECtHR decision towards Transnistria
a hot spot on the international relation s map since 1991. This paper wants to bring a deeper approach
regarding the question of language and script use in the Republic of Moldova which was the core of the
dispute b etween the left and the right bank of the Nistru river that later turned into the armed conflict in
Transnistria. The method used was to put into historical context the Courts’ decision of major importance on
the Catan and Others v. Moldova and Ru ssia case. Following the presentation an d interpretation of the
historical background of the language and alphabet issues in Moldova this work underlines the dynamics of
the direct connection that exists between international politics, international law and reg ional crisis. This
paper may elicit a more analytical interest for research groups interested in the conflict in Transnistria, the
language dispute in Moldova and in international jurisprudence regarding the right to education, but it can
also be useful to European or regional political decisional factors engaged in the peaceful conflict resolution.
The key contribution of this paper consists of emphasizing the political implications of an ECtHR decision
regarding the Republic of Moldova and the conflict in Transnistria.
Keywords: Russian Federation; Republic of Moldova; Transnistrian region; language; schools
1. Introduction
In 2004-2006, three applications (nos. 43370/04, 8252/05 and 18454/06) were lodged (under Article
34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms “The
Convention”) and then declared as admissible by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The
applicants, a number of Republic of Moldova nationals who lived in the separatist region of
Transnistria and who were at the time of lodging the application pupils at three Romanian/Moldovan
schools, complained to the Court under international law about “the closure of their schools and their
harassment by the de facto separatist Transnistrian authorities” (Judgment ECtHR, 2012).
Once again, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova, contracting states, were brought in
front of the European Court, this time to determine whether or not they have jurisdiction over the
Transnistrian region in a question of violation of human rights regarding language and script use in
1 PhD Student, “Alexandru I. Cuza” University, Iasi, Faculty o f History, Romania. Address: Tel./ fax: +40 (232) 201056,
Corresponding author: ruxy_email@yahoo.com.
2 For human rights violations in Transnitria see also (Dailey, 1993)

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