Episode 70. Romanian and Moldovan Reunification (A Defence Against Russia?)
When Lukashenko released the now infamous Russian war plans map he raised alarm bells throughout Europe, signalling that Russia may be looking to conquer Ukraine first and Moldova second. The war has taken a drastic turn since that point, but the question of Moldovan security still looms over the Northern Balkans. Could reunification with Romania be a back door entry into EU membership and protection under the NATO umbrella, or will Transnistria continue to be the thorn in Chisinau's side?
Dennis Deletant Emeritus Professor of Romanian Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London.
He was Professor of Romanian Studies at the University of Amsterdam between 2003 and 2010.
He is the author of several monographs and volumes of studies on the recent history of Romania, among them Ceauşescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-89 (London; New York, 1996) and Romania under Communist Rule (Bucharest, 1998).
Matei Rosca is a journalist for Reporter.London, focusing on Romanian and Moldovan economics and geopolitics.
Previously he has reported for Politico and spent three years as a banking correspondent for S&P Global Market Intelligence in London, where he wrote about international finance, regulation, financial crime, corruption and money laundering.
His journalistic investigations and features have also appeared in Private Eye magazine, The Guardian, and Vice.
James Ker-Lindsay is Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics from the University of Kent.
His research focuses on conflict, peace and security in South East Europe (Western Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus), European Union enlargement, and secession and recognition in international politics.
He has an extensive list of publications, including over a dozen authored or edited books and more than 70 articles and book chapters.
Part 1: One of Four (4:54)
Dennis Deletant outlines a brief history of Romania, including the redrawing of its borders after World War One to include Transylvania and a large population of ethnic Hungarians on the other side of the Carpathian Mountains.
Deletant unpacks the staunchly Communist Romania of Ceausescu, which he calls an "autonomous policy" rather than an independent policy from the Soviet Union, before going on to evaluate the post-Cold War relationship between the independent nation of Moldova and Romania.
We discuss the strong Russian influence within Moldova, including the separatist region of Transnistria, which stands in stark contrast to the significant number of Moldovans applying for Romanian passports with the EU citizen rights and benefits that confer.
We close with a discussion of the factors holding back Moldova from joining the EU and how the invasion of Ukraine has affected the dynamic of the region of Romania and Moldova.
Part 2: A Vote for Subservience (33:57)
Matei Rosca explores the dual dynamic of Transnistria seeking annexation by Russia, effectively blocking Moldova's prospects of joining of the EU, and many Moldovans also seeking reunification with Romania, evaluating the prospects of each.
Rosca notes the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has demonstrated that the prospect of Russian invasion in Moldova must be taken as a legitimate threat.
We discuss the consequences of Moldova's constitutionally enshrined military neutrality on the prospects of reunification with Romania, including how that would be affected by Romanian's NATO membership.
Part 3: The Next Ukraine? (44:57)
James Ker-Lindsay explores the complex questions of identity at play in the case of Moldova and the geopolitics of the region, before unpacking the political and economic realities of Moldova's relationship with Romania.
Ker-Lindsay notes the strength of the Moldovan identity might require an autonomous relationship in any potential reunification with Romania, which is extremely dangerous territory for the Romanian government which faces the prospect of Hungarian and other ethnic and geographical areas launching their own separatist bids. He notes Romania is one of five EU member nations that has not acknowledged Kosovo. This is further complicated by the prospect of Russia potentially attempting to annex Transnistria and Romania's neighbours with close ties to Russia such as Bulgaria and Hungary.
We discuss the flurry of EU membership applications, including that of Moldova in the same week of Ukraine and Georgia's application, and the complexity of what is required to attain membership and harmonise to EU systems and requirements.
We finish by attempting to consider the question of the invasion of Ukraine's effect on the mentality of Moldovans and if we will see a stronger push to integrate into the European Union, as well as questioning how Romania will operate within the EU moving forward.
The Red Line's Romanian and Moldovan Reading List:
We’ve compiled a list of further reading to better Moldova, Romania, and the prospect of reunification.
Bastard Republic: Encounters Along the Tattered Edge of Fallen Empire
State Building in the Middle of a Geopolitical Struggle: The Cases of Ukraine, Moldova, and Pridnestrovia
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This episode is dedicated to Patreon members Luke Kristensen and Lg18ret29.