The so-called “Bessarabian issue” is still relevant even after 80 years, and the factual territorial balance around the region is a temporary phenomenon
On June 23, Moldova marked a remarkable date – the 30th anniversary since its sovereignty was proclaimed. In 1990, the Supreme Council of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova adopted the long-awaited relevant Declaration, paving the way for independence of the Moldovan state. Nevertheless, in his welcoming address to fellow citizens, Prime Minister Ion Chicu noted that the time had come to recognize the lack of cohesion that the Soviet generation of Moldovans had. In his opinion, the modern Moldovan society is much more divided, it is tormented by internal conflicts, and the country’s residents are connected by unrepaired roads, old schools and youth migration.
It is difficult to disagree with such an assessment of the current situation in the republic. Geopolitical social divisions, continuous political and economic crises, imperfect democratic and legal institutions – all these and many other factors objectively impede the development of Moldova, leading to a gradual erosion of its statehood. Not to mention the separatist tendencies that began to take shape by the time the sovereignty of the MSSR was proclaimed. Since independence, the state has not been able to establish sovereignty over the entire territory that was inherited from the Soviet past. All these problems require super efforts and maximum responsibility from Moldovans to turn the tide in the country.
Now it is time to mention another anniversary date – the 80th anniversary of Bessarabia’s accession to the USSR. On June 28, 1940, Soviet troops entered Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina and occupied these territories within 6 days. The Romanian army and administration left the region without any resistance. This happened after the USSR People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Veacheslav Molotov, handed the Soviet government’s ultimatum to the Romanian ambassador in Moscow, Gheorghe Davidescu, demanding Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina be returned. Late in the evening of June 27, Bucharest assessed the vulnerability of its position and, having consulted with international partners, decided to meet the requirements of the Soviet leadership.
This historical episode continues to excite the minds of those who support different views on Moldovan history and can’t reach a common understanding of those years’ events, reflecting on occupation and de-occupation, annexation and re-annexation. Evidence of this was another demonstration organized by the UNIREA opposition bloc at the walls of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau on the occasion of the anniversary. Apparently, the descendants of the forcedly migrated Romanian administration decided to remind the Molotov descendants of their historical trauma, demanding either repentance or comfort.
These events can for sure be written off to the marginal political manifestations of Moldovan right-wing forces, which lack serious positions in parliament so far and are unlikely to advance issues related to historical revision. However, we can say with confidence that their representatives will definitely raise this issue at the earliest opportunity. The notorious “Ghimpu stone” installed in front of the Moldovan government says a lot: neither Igor Dodon, nor the party of socialists with the Chisinau mayor Ion Ceban dare to touch it.
Bucharest and its loyal political forces in Chisinau are known to consider themselves to be the most affected party as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, hoping for justice to be restored. This determines active policy of the Romanian authorities in maintaining the diaspora, the linguistic and socio-cultural component in the lost Bessarabian territories, issuing Romanian passports to the Moldovan population, etc. According to experts, the factual territorial balance around the Bessarabian region is a temporary phenomenon. Oddly enough, the main constraint is the unresolved Transdniestrian conflict which, in addition to being an integral part of the “Bessarabian issue”, prevents all regional stakeholders from the temptation to put forward their territorial claims or ambitions. Currently such a position is convenient allowing to focus all international attention on Moscow, which “by all accounts” keeps this Black Sea region in a state of uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the recent statement by the Russian president about the injustice of territorial demarcation during the USSR disintegration, with all the rhetoric of such arguments, does not add confidence and comfort to the elites of the former Soviet republics.
As one can see, the so-called “Bessarabian issue” is still relevant even after 80 years, and the current balance is very nominal, since it developed without account for the interests of all regional players. Considering the long-term situation stabilization only through the prism of Chisinau-Tiraspol relations settlement is a big mistake. There is reason to believe that resolving the Transdniestrian conflict will not put an end to these processes, but only continue them, serving as a trigger to other territorial disputes with a historical background. Therefore, the Bessarabian region needs a much broader settlement and conjugation of international efforts. This is the only way to build a sustainable architecture of the macroregion and ensure its rapid development.
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