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Moldovan Protests for Romanian Reunification Signal Growing Domestic Factional Divides

Over tens of thousands of protestors reportedly marched in the streets of Moldova’s capital, Chişinău, on March 25th, 2018, in favor of the country’s reunification with Romania. Historically bound to Romania during the interwar period of the twentieth century, calls for political reunification highlight emerging separatist trends between Moldovan pro-Russian and pro-Western factions. 

 Credit: independent.co.uk

Credit: independent.co.uk

According to a statistical public survey conducted late last year by IMAS, the present realistic potential of popular support for Romanian reunification looks slim at only 32%. However, this rising current of thought is significant in underlining the enlarging gap between domestic political support for Moldovan partnered alignment with either Russian or Western integration.

The leadership of Moldova is headed by Igor Dodon of the dominant Moldovan Party of Socialists. Notoriously, Dodon harbors distinctly pro-Russian sentiments and personal persuasions towards linking Moldova’s future international engagements with a Russian bred system. Earlier this year, Dodon perceived the budding domestic trends suggesting unity with Romania and accused the movement as undermining to Moldova’s sovereignty, manifesting his public platform of vehement opposition towards any Romanian or Western-linked interference in Moldovan politics.

Dodon advocates for a pro-Russian outlook within Moldovan affairs, to the extent that he acknowledges the political legitimacy and quasi-independence of the leadership of the Russian backed separatist region of Transnistria which separated from Moldova in 1992. Since its inception as a state, Moldovan domestic politics have been embroiled in a political tug-of-war between Russia and the West, and have often served as a microcosmic display of this power politics game today.

 Credit: Dimitru Doru/EPA/EFE

Credit: Dimitru Doru/EPA/EFE

Ultimately, a Romanian partnership would suggest greater Moldovan alliance with the West at large and potentially further with the European Union. Preceding Parliamentary elections this November, the protest is significant in signaling a challenging tide of political opinion within the country and the possible weakening of the entrenched tendency of Moldovan leadership towards pro-Russian sentiments and political rhetoric. According to a recent survey by the International Republican Institute, Romania and the European Union are growing alongside Russia as publicly supported allies for economic and political partnership in the future for Moldova.

Thus, the protest underscores fears in the current political leadership of shifting public support for the future direction of Moldova’s international affairs. Exemplified in President Dodon’s recent proclamations to soon outlaw pro-Romanian, “‘foreign secret services,’” from usurping the country’s grip of Russian influence, Moldova’s balance of power is beginning to show signs of moving in a direction unfavorable to the current leadership’s pro-Russian interests. Presently there have been no major statements made by Romanian political leadership towards the potential viability of this reunification in the future.