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?


7 Answers 7


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.
  • 1
    "one of the wealthiest countries of the Warsaw Pact" isn't really saying a whole lot.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 25, 2012 at 15:06
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    @PhilDin: No, it shouldn't. This post is written in English, not German. Nov 24, 2012 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, 2012 at 13:58
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    @T.E.D.: Actually it does mean something. Dec 26, 2012 at 0:26
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    this answer is good, but it lacks a bit of detail on the implication of Russia in the internal affairs of Moldova after its declaration of independence
    – dannemp
    Aug 22, 2017 at 11:01

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, 2012 at 16:45
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    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, 2012 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, 2012 at 19:06
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    @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. Mar 23, 2012 at 7:33
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    This was part of the confusion I tried to address, much to Anixx's disappointment. The third point, even when edited is still confusing, as I read it the point seems to say that one part of the country speaks only English and the other only Russian. If they both speak Romanian as a common language why does it matter?
    – MichaelF
    Mar 23, 2012 at 11:48

I hesitated in posting an answer here as there are already very good answers that put forward a multitude of reasons which seem to fully cover and exhaust the subject. But to the question whether there is one decisive reason for the non-unification of the two Romanian-speaking states, I think the answer is yes.

(But I do not want to dismiss different other reasons, and I think they are all important.

Also, other such secondary but important reasons, pertaining to the larger European context, can be still found, like, for example, that, excepting the German unification, as a sort of counterpoint to EU integration, separatism seems to be a very important trend of European geopolitics. People usually think about German unification of 1990 as an example, but that was followed by the separation of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in 1992; the post-war small ("third") Yugoslavia that was meant as a union between Serbia and Montenegro was also dissolved in 2006, followed by the independence of Kosovo (2008). This trend is also present in Western Europe, with "breaking-points" periodically looming in UK (Scotland), Belgium, Spain (Catalonia), not to mention Brexit as a case of a separatist trend at EU-level.)

The one decisive reason I think it was already pointed out in a simplistic way that triggered down-voting by an answer that simply mentioned Russia.

The recent situation in Ukraine with the occupation of Crimea and the war in the Eastern part of the country clearly draws the map of the larger geopolitical context. It is not that simply everything depends on Russia, it is the larger deployment of forces that are at work in the Western part of the former Soviet Union which was decisive after 1991 and still represents the decisive factor. This larger context can be described as the geopolitical confrontation between Russia (especially with the Putin era) and the West (also the EU, but especially NATO and the US). The US administration may prove more or less isolationist and the US influence may become less important in the Near East at times, but that is compensated in Europe by the pro-Western trend in Ukraine, as the US/NATO military presence in Eastern Europe is stronger than ever.

The unification between Romania and the Republic and Moldova cannot occur outside the movement of the boundaries of influence between these two opposed camps, and only with the full appurtenance of both states to the same camp.

This never happened after 1991. In the context of instability immediately after the fall of the URSS there probably were a few months when the unionist forces tested the situation and tried to decisively turn the balance, but the Russian reaction was prompt, and the Transnistria War ensued. Only recently the strong Russian influence in the Republic of Moldova receded somewhat in political terms, while in military terms the Russian presence in Transnistria has not changed (the Russian base there, although itself surrounded, is part of a force that, along with those of Crimea, physically encircles Ukraine).

As for the two states to find themselves in the same camp, this can happen in just two cases:

  1. the geopolitical conflict between Russia and the West&US in Eastern Europe needs to arrive to some sort of solution (and only then we will be able to judge on the importance of the secondary reasons involved in the non-unification of the two states);
  2. or, the West would have to escalate the conflict to a point where unification of the two states becomes an instrument (against Russia) in this conflict (a highly improbable scenario for the moment).

The present situation does not satisfy any of the two opposing conditions. The conflict in Ukraine is close to a cold war or it involves from at least the pro-Western party an effort to isolate the spread of the conflict. The initial scenario where the conflict would spread to larger parts of Eastern Ukraine and even of the South and West (Odessa) closer to the Republic of Moldova and namely to Transnistria and the Russian military base there has become improbable.

A comparison between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova may help better judge the importance of all the factors involved (there are great similarities concerning the importance of the Russian and other minorities and the economic fragility, and factors that seemed decisive in keeping Ukraine in the Russian sphere have suddenly became less important, although they are more significant than in the small Romanian-speaking country).

Ukraine has to pay its effective independence from Russia through a chronic war, the end of which is uncertain, but which has triggered a strongly anti-Russian trend at the political level. But it is hard to say how long that trend will endure and how the war will impact the political situation. The Republic of Moldova has already followed that logic in 1990 when a war broke, but then has avoided war (just like Ukraine until recently) by avoiding a strong anti-Russian politics.

The recent violent events have highlighted the main lines of the geopolitical landscape that was and is deciding the situation of the Republic of Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • This is a very interesting answer but... if so, why did Russia let Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia move to the Western camp?
    – Lev
    Dec 20, 2017 at 17:16
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    @Lev - The question is interesting, but it should be asked as a separate one. When an event is real we can find reasons for it. You seem to suggest that if the same scenario is not present in both cases then it must be improbable in both. That may be the case sometimes but not always: the fact that Russia has (willy-nilly) made some concessions to the West is a good reason that it will refuse to make other concessions. - Anyway, Georgia was attacked, it's case is not like the Baltic one. - I think Russia acts within the bounds of reason and is carefully calculating risks.
    – user8690
    Dec 20, 2017 at 20:53
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    @Lev - To suggest a more detailed answer to your question: Moldova is one of the keys to keeping Ukraine in chess. I suppose that a decisively pro-Russian Ukraine or the need for Russia to reach a settlement (not the case yet) would increase the chances of Moldavian-Romanian union or rapprochement. Georgia is a key to Russia's influence in the Caucasus. The Baltic states are smaller and do not represent a "key" towards a separate larger strategic/disputed region: Scandinavia and Finland, Poland and Germany are areas were a "settlement" has been already reached.
    – user8690
    Dec 20, 2017 at 20:54

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.

  • 1
    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, 2013 at 14:33
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    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.
    – MCW
    Jul 1, 2013 at 14:57
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    @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, 2013 at 7:34
  • @Drux: Not all Moldavian citizens are of Moldavian ethnicity. In Transylvania, for instance, there are many Romanian citizens of Hungarian background which speak very little Romanian.
    – Lucian
    Aug 28, 2018 at 4:16

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

  • 3
    Can you list the reasons you think it is because of Russia?
    – Semaphore
    Oct 8, 2014 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, 2015 at 0:32

I'd like to add one more possible reason: if Romania's borders are redrawn based on ethnicity, it might occur to people that the million+ strong Hungarian community in Transylvania should join Hungary as well. The Romanian elites would strongly disagree with this.

  • Very improbable reason. Could you elaborate? As it stands this is not an answer, but a comment, and the reasoning seems obscure: it might occur to people etc. First, you seem to assume that there are or might be independentist regions in Trasylvania. Even if that were the case, your argument cannot stand. The Republic of Moldavia (largely on the eastern territory of the former principality of Moldavia) is not an independentist region, but an independent state.
    – user8690
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:53
  • Looking at the past history of the region: Transylvania and Bessarabia have been added to modern Romania at the same time and for the same reason: end of WW1 and the dissolution of empires in Europe. Ribbentrop-Molotov pact changed that to the contrary. The trend you suggest is contradicted in both cases, Transylvanian and Moldavian unification to Romania were correlated, far from being contradictory.
    – user8690
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:53
  • Hungarian claims in Transylvania are not based on ethnic as much as on historical reasons, and they have always involved the whole historical region, not parts of it based on ethnic majority. On the contrary, Romanian claims were mostly ethnic: see this 1911 Hungarian ethnographic map of Hungary, where Transylvania is the lesser populated region, but Romanians are occupying most of that, namely the rural regions.
    – user8690
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:59

Moldova always belonged to us and, and now our old president Trajan Basescu claims that he wants to reunite Moldova with Romania, and become big country as it was before WW2. But, that’s highly unlikely it gonna happen because some people are suffering from bosses( I mean, after Moldova became independent state, they don’t want to reunite with us again because they don’t want to lose the chair of leadership, because they want to be a leader of Moldova).

Transylvania was a province in WW2 and that is why it is still our province, just like Moldova.

In WW2, URSS gave us an opportunity to be allies with them and in exchange, they requested our treasure, some of our people( I suppose) and Moldova, and after WW2 ended, it became difficult for us to recover that province.

CONCLUSION: Moldova will not reunite with us because they don’t want to lose their leadership.

Hopefully this is the answer you’re looking for.

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