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Moldova/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

According to the 2004 census, Moldovans represent 78.2% of the total of population of 3.39 million. The census indicates a dramatic decrease of population numbers in Moldova - from 4.5 million in 1989 to 3.39 million in 2004. This is mainly due to the fact that the separatist region of Transnistria did not participate in the latest census. Furthermore, official statistics show that over 600 000 citizens left the country to seek employment abroad.

In the period 12-25 May 2014, the population census was conducted in the Republic of Moldova. The National Bureau of Statistics was due to announce preliminary results of population census in December 2014. Final figures will be known in 2015, 27 months after conducting the census.

There are 18 minority groups in the country. The four largest are Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians and Gagauz.

Table 1: Largest minority groups in Moldova, 1989 and 2004 census figures


Number of persons

% share of total population







600 000

283 367




562 000

198 144




157 500

147 661




90 000

65 072




121 500

44 350



Source:National Bureau of Statistic, 2007

Note:   The category "other" comprises Jews, Belarusians, Poles, Germans, Roma, Greeks, Lithuanians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Chuvash, Italians, Koreans, Uzbeks and Georgians. They have a variety of institutions operating as communities (11), societies (14), unions (2), centres (4), associations (4) and foundations (4).

There are 78 ethnical-cultural groups in the regions and towns of Chisinau, Soroca, Bălţi, Orhei, Cahul, Comrat, Bender, Ceadir-Lunga, Vulcanesti, Ocnita, Taraclia and Tiraspol which play a part in preserving and developing national traditions as well as the mother tongue and cultural traditions of their respective minority communities. In recent years, representatives of Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians, Belarusians, Germans, Azerbaijanis, Armenians and Georgians have set up national communities, representing organisations of a social, cultural and humanitarian nature. These communities do not limit themselves to purely cultural activities. They protect the civil, economic, social and religious rights of their members. They also play a co-ordinating role, among all the public organisations, for their respective minorities and have been empowered to speak on their behalf and represent their interests. The status of these communities allows them to raise money to fund their statutory activities, and offer financial support to their members.

In accordance with the principle of equality and universality enshrined in legislation, ethnic minorities are able to pursue their own culture and practice traditional arts.

In the 1990s, a sub-system of cultural institutions for ethnic minorities was set up, based in the state library, museum and theatre network. In Chisinau (the capital city of Moldova), there are 6 libraries for ethnic minorities and also the Russian State Theatre Company "A. P. Cehov". The first Gagauz theatre company was created in Comrat and the first Bulgarian theatre company now operates in Taraclia.

In Moldova, there are special training programmes for teachers in schools and kindergartens in the languages spoken by ethnic minorities. During the last decade, the Comrat State University and the Comrat Pedagogical College, the Pedagogical College in Taraclia and the Subsidiary of the Music College "Stefan Neaga" in Tvardita were established. In addition to the large network of schools with teaching in Russian, Ukrainian is taught in 71 schools, Gagauz in 49 schools and Bulgarian in 27 schools. Belorussian, Lithuanian, Greek, Georgian, Armenian, and German children learn their mother tongue and culture in Sunday schools set up by ethno-cultural societies.

Within the "Teleradio-Moldova" company, two special departments were set up to broadcast in minority languages – "Comunitate" and "Radio-Moldova International". Their programmes make up about 40% of all programmes (24.9% in Russian; 14.8% in Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Gagauz, Polish, Yiddish, and Romaic). In Balti, Edinet, Ceadir Lunga, Vulcanesti, Ocnita, Briceni, Soroca and Comrat, TV and radio stations regularly broadcast programmes in Gagauz, Bulgarian and Ukrainian.

Almost half of the total production (according to 2005 statistics – 44.7%) of the publishing sector in Moldova - books, newspapers, magazines – is in Russian.

The main instruments regulating the status of ethnic minorities are:

  • the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, adopted on July 29, 1994;
  • the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova of August 27, 1991;
  • the Law of the Republic of Moldova on the functioning of the languages spoken in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic of August 31, 1989;
  • the Decisions of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova on application of the language legislation (September 1, 1989);
  • the Declaration of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova on the legal status of individuals belonging to ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, in the context of the armed conflict in Transnistria (May 26, 1992);
  • the Law on Citizenship modified by the Law on Multiple Citizenship in June 2003;
  • the Law on Religions of March 24, 1992;
  • the series of Laws and Decisions on the Legal Status of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia;
  • the Law on Education of March 9, 1995;
  • the Concept of Educational Development in the Republic of Moldova (February 1996);
  • the Law on Public Associations of January 10, 1997;
  • the Law on the Territorial Organisation of the Republic of Moldova, No. 191-XIV of 12 November 1998 (Official Gazette of the Republic of Moldova, 1998, No. 116-118, Article 705). In May 2003 10 counties that were set up in application of this law were changed with the same 32 former districts; and
  • the Law on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National Minorities and the Legal Status of their Organisations of August 19, 2001

The Moldovan Parliament ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities on October 22, 1996.

In 1991, the State Department for National Issues of the Republic of Moldova was created, a body of the central public authority responsible for implementing national policy on inter-ethnic relations and language functioning. On 14 November 1990, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldovan adopted the Decision on the establishment of the Department and on 25 April 1991 the government adopted the Decision, at the same time determining Department objectives and staff. As a result of Department reorganisation, the name of the Department was amended from Department for National Relations and Languages Functioning (1998) to the Inter-ethnic Relations Department (2001), while later it became the Bureau of Inter-ethnic Relations (2005), (2010).

The structure of the Bureau has a Division for ethnic and national minority relations, a Division for External relations and the diaspora, a Division for promoting the official language and control over compliance of linguistic legislation. The National Centre of Terminology and the House of Nationalities are subordinated to the Bureau, which sustains and develops the ethnic cultures of all nationalities living in Moldova. It co-ordinates and organises national cultural and educational programmes.

In 2012, the Diaspora Relations Office was created within the State Chancellery, with the mission to ensure a coherent and comprehensive policy framework for the Moldovan diaspora through coordination of state policy in the field, consultation on government policies with diaspora associations, strengthening the Moldovan diaspora, development, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes dedicated for the diaspora, and providing necessary assistance to the Prime- Minister on policies for Moldovan Diaspora.

Chapter published: 11-03-2015

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