National identity continues to be a dispute in Moldova
Nearly 7,000 people marched today on the Main Avenue in Moldova’s capital of Chisinau. They demanded the country’s reunification with Romania following the model of 1918-1940 time period when historic Bessarabia -- the most part of it is called the Republic of Moldova today (Bessarabia's northern and southern districts were allotted to Ukraine in 1940) -- was a part of Romania.
The demonstrators waved Moldovan and Romanian flags and chanted “Bessarabia – Romanian ground!” “Reunification!” It was one of the largest demonstrations of this kind in the past years.
Not everyone was happy though. Another group, self-identified as “patriots” demonstrated in front of the Romanian Embassy in Chisinau. They expressed their anger over the ongoing pro-Romania march on the streets of the capital.
“I will speak in Russian. I came here to defend my rights. In our Moldova, the Romanians have no place,” said one of the participants at the counter-protest in front of the Romanian Embassy.
The national identity is a subject of debate in Moldova. Some identify themselves as Romanians considering their historic roots, while others consider themselves Moldovans. The Russian and Ukrainian minorities in Moldova identify themselves as Moldovans, although most of them cannot speak the national language of the country which is Romanian.
Moldovan society is split when it comes to reunification with Romania. Some believe Moldova should re-unite with Romania as they were from 1918 to 1940. Others think the Republic of Moldova should not depend on anyone or the country should look East in hope to relive the Soviet times.
Similar marches were organized a month ago in two other cities of Moldova. The unionist demonstration in Balti city turned violent on August 5 when the so-called “patriots” attacked the unionists with stones and eggs. Some individuals were injured. A journalist was among the victims.
Any clashes between the groups have been avoided today as riot police made sure they do not meet on the same street. Some 700 police officers ensured the public order. No casualties have been reported. The police, however, identified some persons from anti-unionist side carrying guns and sharp objects.
At the end of their march, the unionists voted a resolution addressed to the Moldovan officials demanding the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Transnistria, setting the Communist Party out of law, as well as adjustment of the Constitution. Their requested deadline is September 1, 2013.