The near future is likely to witness a new rise in popularization of the idea of unification between Moldova and Romania which will be artificially charged with new meanings in the present regional realities
Most likely, next month Moldova will face the moment of truth, when it will become clear whether it will be granted the candidate status for joining the European Union. The application was submitted back in March. And if at some point it seemed that this issue shouldn’t be a problem, then in recent weeks the current government has had plenty of reasons to worry. After all, the messages coming from the West are not very encouraging.
Some countries consider such a major acceleration of the European integration of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia to be unfair, since it took many years for the Balkan countries to reach this result through the scrupulous implementation of internal reform requirements and even big concessions. Others do not hesitate to express the opinion that the process of joining the European Union will inevitably take decades. Finally, there are those, including the most influential European politicians, who suggest creating other integration forms, as if in parallel to the EU, especially for countries like Ukraine and Moldova. It is clear to everyone that such new entities would fail to facilitate, if not completely block, the accession to the European Union.
By and large, there is a growing skepticism among the EU member states over its further enlargement. Especially at the expense of the problematic states from the “Association Trio”, each having a territorial conflict involving the Russian Federation. And while Kyiv, as the main sufferer for the Euro-Atlantic ideals, takes the liberty of publicly criticizing Brussels for indecision and insisting on specific timeframes and prospects, our rulers, in turn, are quite diplomatically and humbly awaiting the EU’s decision.
However, the other side of the Prut River is already offering us alternatives. Thus, the Romanian MEP Eugen Tomac believes that Moldova should not expect admission to the EU in less than 15-20 years, but there is a “back door”:
“Moldova’s advantage is that, unlike Ukraine and Georgia, it has an emergency exit, which at a certain point should be discussed with the citizens. It makes no sense to talk about European integration in less than 15-20 years. It will not happen because the EU countries will not agree. Instead, the EU can help Moldova economically. And the political way out for Moldova, the most reliable and fastest, is unification with Romania”.
Tomac said that European integration does not guarantee that Moldova would be safe from “Russian invasion”, while association with Romania would put the republic under the NATO umbrella. He noted, rightly so, that Bucharest is ready for such a request from Chisinau, because back in 2018 both chambers of the Romanian parliament adopted a resolution expressing a consent to discuss with their Moldovan colleagues the draft of the new unirea at any time.
Indeed, there is no much doubt that our western neighbor is interested in such a development. Romania has many motives in this regard, from geostrategic to historical, fueled by influential circles in Washington who want to wrest the post-Soviet space from the zone of Russian influence. The current events, which have speeded up the global change, give it a unique opportunity to accomplish such an ambitious plan. There are, of course, economic difficulties: bringing Moldova to the Romanian standard of living will cost a lot. But taking into account that nowadays the political logic wins easily over the economic one, the issue, it seems, will be solved. Another important point is a consistently high support for Unirea in Romania itself, where three-quarters of the population stand for it.
It must be said that since 2021, our country, too, has taken the confident path if not of reunification with Romania, then at least of building a “common space”. Numerous bilateral visits, meetings, and agreements even before the start of the Ukrainian events boosted the consolidation of ties on the banks of the Prut River to historically high levels. Many things became “joint”: joint meetings of governments and parliaments, joint police patrolling of roads, (the prospect for) joint customs control, etc. This gave reason to say that the Unirea project was revitalized, albeit in a more civilized form.
It is no secret that our authorities at least favour the hypothetical “reunification”, and many prominent representatives of the ruling party do not even try to hide their fervent sympathy for it. It is very illustrative that even the guarantor of the Constitution, President Maia Sandu, responding to a direct question, did not dismiss such a possibility, noting only that this would require preconditions in the form of citizens’ will.
Such preconditions are not yet in place, although the number of Unirea supporters has increased dramatically in the last decade and varies around 30-40%. This is still not the majority, but anyway a good foundation. All the more so, it is being strengthened now in two main directions at once.
The first is the promotion of the “Russian threat” topic and, as a consequence, the justification of the need for a quick unification under the pretext of defending the Moldovan territory. Indeed, the military resources of our republic are very limited and hardly sufficient when it comes to resisting the potential Russian aggression. On the other hand, the possibility of the latter does not seem indisputable at the moment.
Yes, we have seen separate statements by Russian representatives – by the way, not the top-level ones – but that’s all. It seems that this is only a pretext for military supplies to Moldova and promoting the idea of “unification for the sake of security”.
In this regard, noteworthy is the appearance in a Romanian media of an open letter of ninety-two ex-MPs of the Moldovan parliament calling on presidents Maia Sandu and Klaus Johannis to find ways to unite as soon as possible, including because of Moldova’s “vulnerability” due to the conflict in Ukraine. Many of our “experts” are constantly talking today about the same thing.
The second is the socio-economic factor. Moldova is in the midst of a severe economic crisis, and is unlikely to overcome it in the near future. The problems are well known: huge inflation, skyrocketing tariffs, insufficient growth of pensions and salaries, increasing fuel prices, etc. The result is the rapid impoverishment of the population, protests, and public disappointment with the government and the prospects of the country as a whole.
Should the situation further deteriorate, the people’s discontent could reach a critical level. This could bankrupt the very idea of statehood and force citizens to resort to the seemingly easiest way to radically improve their situation: by going under Romania’s jurisdiction, which is more prosperous in every sense. Especially if we are not given a clear Euro-integration hope next month, which will deprive the majority party of its, in fact, sole ideological pillar.