25 july

Constitution should not contain article on official language, Victor Juc

On July 29, it is 20 years of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. IPN News Agency asked a number of analysts and opinion leaders to what extent the Supreme Law ensures now the rule of law and defends the human rights. What is and what the Constitution should be for the country and the ordinary people?

Since the declaration of independence, the official language has created dissension in society and among politicians. Can the Constitution solve this problem or what should be done at constitutional level for this dissension not to exist?

Academician Victor Juc, vice director of the Institute of Legal and Political Research of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova:

The Constitution should not contain an article that refers to the official language. This article shouldn’t have been included in the Supreme Law in 1994, when there was no consensus. In 1989 – 1990, the opinion that the Romanian is the official language prevailed. After 1992 – 1993, things changed, including because the ruling Democratic forces in Parliament were replaced by neo-Communists, which is the Agrarians. Surely, by introducing the phrase “Moldovan language” in Article 13, they tried to solve a problem once and for all. But the problem wasn’t solved, especially because in 1994, before the adoption of the Constitution, an application was submitted to the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, which said it frankly that Romanian is the official language. They didn’t take into account the opinions of researchers and specialists in the field. They took a political step and we now see the effects.

As a result, society, the political elites are divided on this issue and we see that the problems related to the language are raised again now that the legislative elections are approaching, because it’s easier to say that we speak ‘Moldovan’ or ‘Romanian’ than to draft social protection, economic development, modernization and reform bills.

The Constitution cannot solve the problem of language. An effort was made by the Constitutional Court by its decision of December 5, 2013, which makes it clear that the Romanian language is the official language, but it didn’t change things much because there is full juridical nihilism and distrust in the authorities in Moldova.

If a new Constitution is drafted, an article on the official language should not be included in it. If the phrase ‘the Romanian language’ is included in the Constitution, instead of ‘the Moldovan language’, they will only correct an injustice and will remove an untruth from the Constitution as the people of science said that the language is Romanian. Surely, left-wing forces will mount protests with the slogan “Save our Moldovan language”. But nothing more will happen.

It’s yet recommended to draft an ordinary law on the functioning of languages on Moldova’s territory, which would stipulate which is the official language. Even so, the problem of language can be solved only at legislative level, not yet at the level of daily life.

The linguistic problem is not acute in Moldova. It is raised before elections because it is a sensitive issue. I don’t think it will disappear in the near future, maybe only when Moldova becomes integrated into the EU.

In 1990, Parliament adopted a decision providing that the other-language speakers were to be tested on the state language in 1994. The agro-socialist government abolished yet this provision. As a result, many other-language speakers do not know the Romanian and do not want to study it, even if it is taught in schools.

As to the functioning of other languages, in Moldova there are no problems in this respect. Nobody is intimidated into not speaking their language. There may be incidents at the market or on the street, but at the level of state policies and employment in the public sector there are no such impediments.

The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova
Article 11, the official language, the functioning of the other languages
(1) The official language of Moldova is Moldovan, based on the Latin script.
(2) The state recognizes and protects the right to keep, develop and ensure the functioning of the Russian and other languages spoken on the territory of the country.
(3) The state facilitates the studying of languages spoken internationally.
(4) The method of functioning of the languages on Moldova’s territory is set by organic law.