The relationship between Moldova and Romania, while generally good, is far from trouble free. Although Romania was the first state to recognize Moldova and has provided substantial support to the new republic in relation to Bucharest's means, ties between the two Romanian-speaking states are fraught with political difficulties for both countries.
The relationship between Romania and Moldova began to deteriorate shortly after Moldova's independence. Because of their different histories, with Moldova part of the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union, Moldovans and Romanians have different attitudes about basic social and political issues, such as the extent of social payments (i.e. welfare). Many Romanians see the Moldovans as "Russified" and hold the condescending view that they are in need of assistance to overcome their cultural disabilities. This has been a source of growing resentment among the majority of Moldovans.
For his part, Romania's president, Ion Iliescu, worked consistently to maintain a positive relationship with Russia. On the one hand, moves on his part that could be seen as destabilizing the interethnic balance in Moldova and tipping it toward civil war would be potentially disastrous for his country, both in the limited sense of setting back Russian-Romanian relations and in the more serious sense of potentially drawing Russia into a regional conflict. On the other hand, any precipitous move on the part of Moldova in the direction of Romania would immediately raise fears of imminent unification with Romania among the Russian-speaking population and among the Gagauz and would feed interethnic hostility in the republic. The March 6, 1994, referendum confirmed to all interested parties, in no uncertain terms, that the populace of Moldova is not in favor of reuniting with any country.
In late 1994, President Iliescu made comments questioning Moldova's independent status. Although relations between the two countries remain cordial, these comments reflected the Romanian nationalistic parties' greater influence in national politics and in the parliament.
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