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Moldova/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

Romanian is the language spoken by the majority of the indigenous population; however this is not reflected clearly by its status as "official language". The status of the "official language" in the Republic of Moldova is critical to national cultural policy development.

Two years before the collapse of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic passed three language laws: Law on the Official Language, Law on the Functioning of the Languages Spoken in the Republic, and Law on the Re-introduction of the Latin Script. These laws were followed by the government's State Programme Ensuring the Functioning of Languages Spoken in the MSSR, designed to open the way for the Romanian language to become the main means of communication in all areas of society.

The Law on the Official Language assigned the Romanian (state) language the same status as Russian. However, no less than 20 of the 32 sections of the law make reference to the Russian language. As a result, Russian has remained the language used in official documents in all structures of the central and local public administration. In addition, the mother tongue of the native population is not yet "a language of inter-ethnic communication".

The language laws introduced by the Soviet regime contained a non-scientific concept "the Moldovan language" (Moldovan is one of the numerous dialects of the Romanian language) that has not been corrected in the 1994 Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. Despite the amendments of the General Assembly of the Academy of Science and other linguistic local and international forums, the state authorities name the official language as "Moldovan", while the schools, universities, mass-media, intellectuals and public administration use the term "Romanian language".

All of these laws and state acts were adopted in 1989 when the Republic of Moldova was still part of the USSR and did not correspond to the radically changed circumstances in 1991, when Moldova declared its independence. Despite this, the legislation on language have not been edited or amended for 22 years. On 5 December 2013, the Constitutional Court examined two complaints concerning the interpretation of art. 13 of the Constitution, which were joined into a single file at the initiative of the Constitutional Court. As a consequence, the Constitutional Court decided that the text of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova shall prevail the texts from the Constitution. Thus, the Romanian language is the state language of the Republic of Moldova, since it is the term stated in the Declaration of Independence of the country. The text of the decision brings the arguments: being the preamble to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova is integral to the Constitution. In the case of divergence between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution's text, the primary text of the Declaration of Independence should prevail. The present decision is definitive and cannot be subjected to appeal.

Chapter published: 11-03-2015

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