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Towards the collapse of the USSR, nationalism rose in Moldova. Nationalists proclaimed the linguistic and ethnic identity between Moldovans and Romanians. It seems that they strove toward unification of their country and Romania. Besides, Moldova (except for Transnistria) had already been part of Romania before Soviet annexation.

So why didn't the two countries unite?

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There is a long documentation of the process on Wikipedia which doesn't really answer your question however. It does make it obvious that there are large population groups both in Romania and Moldova opposing a reunification (this group seems larger in Moldova). I think that there is a number of reasons:

  • Despite being closely related, the two countries developed a distinctly different mentality. One has to consider that Moldova was part of the Russian Empire since 1812. It fell back to Romania in 1918 only to be occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. In other words, in the past 200 years Moldova has been a part of Romania for only 22 years.
  • The nationalist movement that was very strong in 1992 lost ground when the economical problems of the country grew larger. One symptom is that the country had a communist as a president between 1997 and 2009 (first Petru Chiril Lucinschi, then Vladimir Voronin). The communist government had more interest in establishing a good relation to Russia than to Romania.
  • There is the unresolved conflict with Transnistria, a region where only one third of the population is Moldovan. Transnistria strictly opposes a reunification and actually used this question as a reason to break away. A reunification between Romania and Moldova would require releasing Transnistria, yet Moldova doesn't seem to be ready to accept Transnistria's independence.
  • Moldova's economy is very weak ("poorest country in Europe"). A reunification would cost the Romanian economy a lot. Even the (relatively stable) German economy suffered as a result of reunification with the GDR, even though GDR was one of the wealthiest countries of the Warsaw Pact - and Romanians have all the reason to worry about the stability of their economy.
  • This isn't something that I can back up, based merely on what I heard from my grandfather: it seems that Moldovans were second-class citizens in Romania before 1940, Moldova being a mostly agrarian province. There is obviously a high probability that the history will repeat itself which might also be a reason why some Moldovans aren't very keen on a reunification.
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"one of the wealthiest countries of the Warsaw Pact" isn't really saying a whole lot. – T.E.D. Jun 25 '12 at 15:06
@PhilDin: No, it shouldn't. This post is written in English, not German. – Wladimir Palant Nov 24 '12 at 12:11
Sorry, some confusion on my part, I thought it was generally referred to as the DDR even in English but I can see GDR being generally used . – PhilDin Nov 24 '12 at 13:58
@T.E.D.: Actually it does mean something. – Felix Goldberg Dec 26 '12 at 0:26
@T.E.D.: it does mean something. For example, for a while GDR currency was convertable to DM. – Michael Oct 8 '14 at 21:08

I think there are three main reasons.

  • First, the elites usually do not want to resign their powers. For example, East Germany leadership opposed the reunification to the end. Historically the elites are much more likely to support secessionism than unification.

  • Second, as Wladimir Palant pointed out, unification with Romania requires abandoning any hope to restore Transnistria as a part of the country. Transnistria in theory only agrees to reunify under condition of no future NATO membership of Moldova. This rules out the possibility of incorporation into Romania.

  • Most people in Moldova know Russian and do not know English. Conversely in Romania nobody knows Russian and many know English. And, more importantly, knowledge of English is required for official documents because Romania is part of the EU.

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"And, more importantly, knowledge of English is required for official documents because Romania is part of the EU." -- Not true. EU is big on translating every official document into all official languages of its member states. In practice, being part of the integrated EU economy means that you're strongly advised to learn English, but there's no official requirement. – quant_dev Mar 21 '12 at 16:45
MichaelF, please do not edit my answers. If you disagree, just downvote. Especially do not insert such (bleep) that there is no common language between the two. There IS a common language - Romanian. Please restore the answer in its original form. – Anixx Mar 21 '12 at 17:27
It's called moderation Anixx, I was editing to fix some of the inconsistencies from the comments. Either way it's reverted. – MichaelF Mar 21 '12 at 19:06
@Anixx: I don't think that the part about languages is true. Moldova had a large population of Russian-speakers with close to no knowledge of Romanian - now almost all of them are gone (with the exception of Transnistria) so the Russian language doesn't really play a role. Also, I don't think that English is significantly more widespread in Romania than in Moldova - it is definitely not required for the EU and good English knowledge is IMHO equally rare in both Romania and Moldova. – Wladimir Palant Mar 23 '12 at 7:33
Well, English knowledge is at least required from NATO officers AFAIK. – Anixx Mar 23 '12 at 8:01

I have known several people from Moldova for about a few years now...most of them speak fluent English and Romanian, and very little Russian, and they have lived there for all of their lives...3 of the people that I know there are even teaching me Romaneste...and most of them have no problem with Romanians, however they don't seem to be so crazy about Russia, and all of the people that I know from there are either trying to leave for a better life elsewhere or have already gone.

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More anecdotal evidence: Met a girl from Moldava just the other day. We encountered a Romanian phrase. I asked her for a translation, but she could not comply, explaining that her native language was similar to Ukrainian instead. – Drux Jul 1 '13 at 14:33
History stack exchange works best when answers are backed up with sources & citations. Anecdotal evidence is interesting, but leads to discussion rather than scholarship and answers. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 1 '13 at 14:57
@Drux I don't know what to tell you, but I've lived in Romania until I was 11 from my experience, people from Moldova speak only a slight dialect of Romanian. They have some words (usually nouns) which are different, but a Romanian can easily talk to a Moldavian. And Ukrainian being a Slavic language as opposed to Romanian which Latin, I highly doubt she knew what she was talking about. She either never traveled to Romania, or (more likely) she spoke to some Ukrainians from the border who usually know some sort of Romanian. – Ovi Jul 12 '13 at 7:34

I will answer very short : because russia doesn't want! (in this case Moldova will be a part of EU and OTAN ....) but, in future I am sure that Moldova and Romania will be ONE country

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Can you list the reasons you think it is because of Russia? – Semaphore Oct 8 '14 at 9:40
I would venture some reasons: By unification of Moldova with Romania, Moldova would join the EU, which would not be looked upon favorably by either Russia or the EU. Of course, there is also the issue of Transnistria (see the War of Transnistria), which is probably the bigger issue here. Russia maintains a military presence in Transistia, and if Moldova were to reunite with Romania, it (the newly unified state) would lay a more solid claim on Trasnistria. – Will I Am Aug 25 '15 at 0:32

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