Moldovan lawmakers on Thursday voted in favor of a divisive bill that would replace references to the country’s official national language in the constitution and law from Moldovan to Romanian.
The bill was initiated by Moldova’s ruling pro-Western Party of Action and Solidarity, PAS, and would replace references to “state language” with “Moldovan language”, “mother tongue” and “Romanian language”. It has sparked a debate with social, political and geopolitical overtones.
Thursday’s vote was the second and final. All 57 MPs present from the PAS, which holds 63 of the 101 seats in the legislature, voted in favor of an unaffiliated legislator. The opposition Communist and Socialist Bloc, which has 31 seats, and 6 MPs from the pro-Russia Noisy party boycotted most of the vote.
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While those in favor of official linguistic changes see them as an important step for the EU candidate to distance himself from his Soviet past and historical ties to Moscow, others see it as an attack on national Moldovan identity by pro-Western officials. Let’s see in form. The opposition has also raised concerns about procedural changes in the bill.
During a parliamentary session on Thursday, some members of the Communists and Socialists brandished a large banner that read: “The people are sovereign, the PAS is a tyrant,” and “Moldova. Moldovans. Moldovans,” a reference to the current constitution. .
Moldovan associate professor at the University of Oakland, Cristian Cantir, said opposition parties could challenge the result in the country’s constitutional court.
“Pro-Russia forces in Moldova and the Kremlin have always challenged the assumption that the majority of the population is ethnically Romanian and speaks Romanian,” he told The Associated Press, “believing these forces, that point, to be a Moldovan state.” And relations with Russia will be destroyed.”
“I think the controversy over this bill shows that the issue of language remains contentious in a society that is deeply divided along geopolitical lines,” he said.
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Most of Moldova’s 2.6 million people speak Romanian as their first language, and the rest speak Russian.
Moldova was part of Romania until World War II, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union and Russian became the official language. During the following half-century, Romanian was preserved in Moldovan villages. It again became the national language in 1989.
After reading the first bill earlier this month, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted by calling it an “anti-Russian proposal”.
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Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, Moldova has faced a long series of crises and sought closer ties with its Western partners, much to Moscow’s chagrin. Last June, it was granted the same EU candidate status as Ukraine.
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