Moldovan Security Concerns Hundreds of Thousands Would Rather Be Romanian
What if you had a country that nobody wanted to belong to?
It is a riddle currently facing the Eastern European country of Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. Ever since Romania joined the European Union at the beginning of this year, more and more Moldavians have been applying for Romanian passports. So far, some 800,000 people have applied -- 20 percent of Moldova's entire population.
On Wednesday, Moldovan officials said they were concerned at the trend and complained that Romania was using its new-found status as EU member to lure Moldavians to acquire Romanian citizenship. Most Moldavians speak Romanian and a large chunk of the country belonged to Romania between the two World Wars.
"The Republic of Moldova will not allow its citizens' future to become the target of two-faced, dangerous, behind the scenes games which undermine national security and the foundations of statehood for which its citizens made such sacrifices," the Moldovan government said in a Wednesday statement.
Part of the accusation is that Bucharest isn't doing anything to solve the problem -- which appears to be a legitimate complaint. Some 75 percent of the Moldovan population is technically eligible for a Romanian passport and Romanian President Traian Basescu has urged that the process of screening the applications be sped up. He has even referred to Moldovans and Romanians as "a people separated as the Germans once were."
The problem is likely to only get worse. Romanian officials estimate that by the end of the year, almost 40 percent of all Moldovans will have applied for passports -- some 1.5 million people out of a population of 4 million. As of Jan. 1, Moldovans must have a visa to visit Romania, but as compensation Romania has eased the requirements for getting a passport.
At least one portion of the Moldovan population wouldn't be sad to see the Romanian-speakers become part of Romania. The 550,000 Russian-speaking residents of the self-declared Republic of Transnistria have long been seeking more autonomy from the the government in Chisinau.