More than 2,000 supporters of Moldova’s reunification with Romania took part in a march in Bucharest on October 22, asking the Romanian authorities to take action. Five of the participants were detained and then released during the march, and dozens of tents were set up overnight in Universitate Square in Bucharest.
The march, organised by Actiunea 2012, took place just one week before presidential elections in Moldova. The topic of reunification with Romania is highly controversial as a large part of the Moldovan population is Russian speaking and considers their country should be closer to Russia. However, supporters of unification have become more vocal in the past year, with up to 50,000 people participating in a pro-unification march in Chisinau in March.
This is the fifth consecutive year Actiunea 2012 has organised such a march in Bucharest. “This year, however, we are not going back home until the politicians from Bucharest, the representatives of the government and the political parties which have the chance to enter the future parliament admit the necessity of reunification and launch the actions which will lead to the fulfillment of this goal,” the civic organisation said.
“We need firm action from the Romanian political class in its relations with Moldova. We need the politicians to listen to the message of the Romanians living beyond the Prut river. The best country project Romania can have, after joining the NATO and the EU, is unification,” George Simion, the president of the Uctiunea 2012 unionist platform, said.
The march turned violent at one point, with five participants being detained after they tried to break the police lines and reach Universitate Square, a symbolic place in Romania associated with freedom and the fall of communism, according to local media.
Captain Mihai Vornicu from the Bucharest Gendarmerie told news agency Agerpres that Simion and three other participants in the march had been fined for disturbing the public order. He added that tear gas was not used during the incidents.
Simion, a Romanian citizen, has been expelled from Moldova twice. In May last year, Moldova’s immigration office banned him for five years.
A few hundred unionists headed to Universitate Square where they set up tents to spend the night. They carried banners which read “Basarabia is Romania” and “Reunification” and chanted slogans such as “We have the same country, the same blood,” “Draft bill for the unification,” “The country is not theirs” and “Greater Romania.”
The protesters said they will leave the square after the Romanian authorities talk to them.
“I have come here to support the reunion of Basarabia with Romania, to unite our forces," Mihai from Constanta told bne Intellinews. “We will stay here until they will give us an answer, and I am referring to President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos and the government,” he added.
In March, up to 50,000 demonstrators in Chisinau called for Moldova’s unification with Romania. Demonstrators commemorated the 98th anniversary of the unification of Basarabia (whose territory is approximately that of present-day Moldova) and the kingdom of Romania, a union which lasted only until 1940, when Romania had to cede Basarabia to the Soviet Union.
The march was preceded by a congress of unionists, where the 1,700 participants symbolically voted in favour of the union of the two countries and for the establishment of the Country Council 2 (Sfatul Tarii 2), a body whose mission will be to work on strategies aimed at bringing Moldova and Romania closer together, according to public broadcaster Teleradio Moldova.
In response, the pro-Russian Moldovan Socialist Party (PSRM) said it will organise a number of rallies against the reunification with Romania, and a formal statement against unification was approved in Moldova’s parliament on March 31 by 61 of the 101 MPs. According to recent polls, pro-Russian PSRM leader Igor Dodon is the favourite candidate for the Moldovan presidency and he is likely to defeat any of his rivals in the second round.
Iohannis said on September 27 he believes that deeper economic involvement in Moldova is needed, and that Romania should get involved to a larger extent in building and strengthening democratic institutions. Asked about the possible unification of the two countries, Iohannis said that this option should be discussed within CSAT as part of the broader strategy towards Moldova.
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