Moldova’s Constitutional Court endorsed on October 31 a proposal made by a group of MPs to change the official language name to Romanian from Moldovan.
Romanian and Moldovan are essentially the same language though with some small regional variations. However, the naming of the language is a hot political topic in Moldova; calling the language “Romanian” is favoured by those who want closer relations or even unification with Romania, while pro-Russians such as President Igor Dodon want to keep the name “Moldovan”.
On October 13, 34 MPs decided to send to the Constitutional Court a bill envisaging a change to article 13 of the constitution stipulating that the state’s official language is Romanian rather than Moldovan. The move was initiated by the Moldovan Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM).
“Analysing the draft constitutional bill, the court noted that this is aimed at revising the Constitution by amending article 13, namely by replacing the text “Moldovan language, based on Latin script” with the text “Romanian language”,” the court said.
Back in October 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled that Moldova’s Declaration of Independence, in which the Romanian language is mentioned, prevails over the text of the Constitution.
“The court has noted that the initiative to amend article 13 of the Constitution does not represent an ordinary initiative to amend the Constitution, but a technical one which results from the obligation to enforce a Constitutional Court’s ruling, namely the Decision no.36 from December 2013,” the court said on October 31.
The amendment to the constitution is expected to be debated in parliament from April next year, according to Radio Free Europe.
The ruling goes against Dodon’s recently efforts to strengthen relations with Russia. Shortly after taking office, he changed the name of the language on the presidency’s website from Romanian to Moldovan, with users now being able to choose from Moldovan, Russian and English. In March, he said the study of the Russian language should be compulsory in Moldovan school.
On the other hand, there some Moldovan politicians are advocating for reunion with Romania. However, polls have shown that the percentage of the population wanting a reunion with Romania stands below 25%.
Dodon reacted to the court’s decision saying that he considers “unacceptable and unlawful the attempts to legalise the Romanian language as Moldova’s official language.” Dodon wrote on Facebook that a referendum should be organised to ask citizens what name they prefer.
On the other hand, Dodon has recently extended an olive branch to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, inviting him to visit Moldova, Dodon wrote on Facebook on October 30.
“I consider that there should be responsible and constructive dialogue between the presidents of Romania and Moldova,” Dodon wrote. “I am sure that only through repeated discussions the difficulties which come up sometimes between states or institutions can be overcome,” he added.