Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hello, I'm a Romoldacian!

Speaker Ghimpu is being heavily criticised in Parliament this morning for declaring that he is a Romanian and thereby neglecting the 'Moldovan' population of the country.  Both the communist Stepaniuc and the democrat Diacov have made statements to this effect, playing to the rusofile and moldovenist electorate that they both court.

The identity issue can be dealt with if it is broken down into its components - ethnicity and nationality.  With respect to the latter, it is quite clear that anyone (from Ghimpu to Klimenko) holding a passport from the Republic of Moldova can claim to be a 'Moldovan' national, regardless of their ethnic background.

With respect to the former, the situation of ethnic Ukrainian, Russian & Gagauz families is relatively clear, unless they intermarry with the majority population.

The tricky thing is what to call the ethnicity of the majority.  It is clear that by and large they share the same ethnogenesis as the majority population living on the other side of the Prut (Romanians), and I guess this is how they described themselves during the inter-war period when the territory was part of greater Romania.

Soviet influence has, however, led to many describing themselves as 'Moldovan', and this term may also have been used during the rule of the Moldovan principality (prior to 1812).  Many in the Republic of Moldova use such language as they feel little affinity with Romania.

From 1812 - 1917 (the Russian imperial period), I guess the term 'Basarabian' was used (Please correct me if I am wrong about any of this...)

In order to get an unequivocal name for the ethnic group that would unite majorities on both sides of the Prut, you probably have to go all the way back to the Romans and the Dacians who were forbears of all the latinate people in this part of the world.  It would, however, be difficult to persuade 20m people to pick up this moniker.

An interesting parallel is Austria.  Until the second world war, many Austrians considered themselves to be ethnic Germans, however now only 6% do (the majority believing that a new 'Austrian' ethnicity has emerged).

There doesn't appear to be an easy answer.  I guess the best approach would be to let everybody freely decide how to call themselves and let a consensus gradually emerge from the sum of individual opinions.

What is clear, however, is that the issue needs to be depoliticised.  Ghimpu has every right to describe himself as a Romanian and be a patriotic, high official in the Republic of Moldova.  Stepaniuc and Diacov should hold off the cheap shots and leave him be.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - ethnicity in Moldova should be depoliticised. Ghimpu is just saying the truth when saying that he is romanian, but that shouldn't necessary mena that he has any specific opinion about Moldova-Romania issues.

    I think the first step is to look realistic on the lanuage situation. "Moldovan" is Romanian and it is the majority language. Russian is a strong minority language, and should be recognized as such. Maybe this could help in de-politicizing the issue?