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President urges constitution amendments to rename Moldovan language to Romanian

September 01, 8:40 UTC+3 CHISINAU
Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti believes the amendments will make it possible to avoid a split among the population
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Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

CHISINAU, September 1. /TASS/. Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti suggested on Wednesday changing the name Moldovan language to Romanian in the Constitution.

"We are ethnic Romanians although we call ourselves Moldovans," the president said at a session at Moldova’s Academy of Sciences marking Our Language Day the republic celebrates on Wednesday.

"Those who don’t understand it, come out against the development of our state. Let us learn and accept this fact once for all and concentrate on other problems," the Moldovan leader said.

He believes amendments to the Constitution to this respect will make it possible to avoid a split among the population, the majority of which considers the language Moldovan.

In his speech, the president said "Moldovans are an artificial ethnic group". "When I was asked (by other heads of state) about my descent, I answered that I am Romanian, just like my parents, ancestors and the entire people living on this land," he told academicians.

Timofti welcomed the decision of the Moldovan Constitutional Court which in 2013 declared Romanian the state language. On request from some Moldovan parliamentarians the judges recognized at that time supremacy of the Declaration of Independence, written in 1991, over the Constitution. The declaration was written with the help of experts from neighboring Romania and named Romanian as the state language.

A copy of the document is still kept in the Moldovan parliament. The original was destroyed when supporters of pro-European parties raided the parliament building in 2009. They raised the flags of the European Union and Romania on the building set ablaze, as well as slogans urging unification of the two countries.

National Language Day was established in 1990, when in the wake of Soviet perestroika the Moldovan parliament declared Moldovan the state language and adopted the Roman script instead of Cyrillic used earlier. At that time the population of Transnistria and Gagauzia demanded that Russian be adopted as the second state language. Russian was spoken by almost 90% of the population of the country, and was the main language for each third resident. Disputes spilled into a conflict in Gagauzia and a war in Transnistria, a split in the country and an ongoing conflict.

Now Moldovan intelligentsia demand the language be renamed in the Constitution to Romanian, reasoning that Moldovan is not an independent language but a dialect of Romanian modern standard language.

Some Moldovan scientists and politicians disagree, saying the Moldovan language formed in ancient times when Moldovan principality existed. Romania as a state emerged in the middle of the 19th century, and the modern Romanian language appeared at the same time.

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