Sigma: Journal of Political and International Studies


Brittney Grandy


Moldova, Soviet Union, Romanianism


This difference is all too clear in the former Soviet satellite of Moldova. In 1989, Moldova had a population of 4,335,360 (,21,eMOCKon Weekly 2013), with a variety of nationalities living within its borders that threatened to divide the state. Moldovans were the largest ethnic group, accounting for roughly 65 percent of the population. Ukrainians (13.8 percent), Russians (13 percent), Gaguaz (3.5 percent), and Romanians (0.06 percent) were just a few of the other ethnic minorities (,21,eMocxon Weekly 2013). While other former Soviet states dealt relatively effectively with a variety of ethnic minorities within their borders, this issue tore at the very foundation of Moldova's national identity, exacerbating tensions between groups vying for control over what Moldova would become. From what language was to be spoken to the national anthem, Moldovans struggled both pre- and post-independence to develop a strong sense of distinct national identity. Some groups pressed for unification with Romania, a neighboring state with strong historical and cultural ties to Moldova, while others asserted Moldova was uniquely its own country. Not to be left out, others desired to maintain ties to the former Soviet Union. This paper will examine the struggle Moldovans underwent in deciding whether to strengthen ties with the former Soviet Union, to return to old Romanian ties, or to create their own independent nation. Additional insights into the depth of this issue can be learned by comparing Moldova to the Baltic States. The Baltic region avoided a similar identity crisis in part through its fortune of having strong ties with Western Europe, which motivated and enabled the Baltic region to depart from the former Soviet Union economically, politically, and culturally. The Baltic States also lacked the same type of ties that Moldova had with Romania before the Soviet era. Moldova's misfortune may have been avoided had it had similar ties to pro-independence Western states as the Baltic region experienced rather than its mixed history of ties with Russia and Romania.