Several anti-unification myths or theories have been promoted, on an amateur or professional level, by those who show scepticism towards the process of reunification. Based on so called “pragmatism”, they approach the unification of Bessarabia with Romania in the context of "it would be nice, but it’s not possible" and invoke economic or strategic arguments to this end.
Without contradicting the historical truth – according to which Bessarabia is part of the Romanian territory - such rhetoric has induced uncertainty and fear, suggesting major challenges: economic instability, the emergence of a volatile minority, increased corruption etc. How much truth and how much misinformation / manipulation lies behind these theories?
MYTH 1 – Romania cannot cope with a large Russian minority, a process which may lead to the destabilisation of the country, the region or maybe even the EU as a whole.
That is to say Romania will struggle to incorporate a region where 40% of the population speaks Russian. Does Romania have the necessary skills and resources to manage, integrate and protect a new minority? Should the EU worry about mass migration or minority rights in the new Romanian state?
According to the official data published by the National Bureau for Statistics in Moldova, there were 3.555.159 Moldovan citizens in 2014. Only 6.5% declared themselves of Ukrainian nationality, 4.57% Gagauz and 4.05% declared themselves Russian.
By comparison, following Romania’s 2011 census, 6.5% of the population (1.227.600 citizens) declared themselves Hungarian. The Hungarian minority in Romania is three times larger than the added Russian and Ukrainian population in Moldova.
Romania is one of the most progressive EU Member States in terms of minority rights. Based on its track record in protecting its current minorities, there is no doubt Romania will successfully and respectfully integrate new citizens of various ethnic backgrounds.
MYTH 2 – Romania cannot burden itself with Transnistria.
In other words, Romania and the EU have no need for a region that is home to a frozen conflict – Transnistria.
The Republic of Moldova is indeed home to a frozen conflict since the early 1990s. However, this does not represent an obstacle impossible to overcome in the struggle for unification and European integration of Moldova. The separatist regime in Tiraspol does not benefit from international recognition, not even from Russia, the very state which ensures its existence. Furthermore, the existence of a frozen conflict on the territory of an EU member state is nothing new. Cyprus has been accepted into the EU, although it hosts a frozen conflict since 1973 and foreign troops belonging to a non-EU state are stationed on its territory against its will.
The unification with Moldova would obviously imply a commitment on Romania’s behalf to carry on negotiations in order to resolve the existing conflict. Chances are that it is precisely the unification and the enhanced political status of the new state which would speed up this conflict resolution which has long been on the EU agenda.
The Unionist Platform Actiunea 2012 proposes that, post-unification, Romania establishes a thoroughly secured demarcation line, with European-level facilities, on the western border of the Tiraspol-controlled separatist area. This would include both the border crossing points of the European Union and the offices providing services to the people living under the jurisdiction of the Transnistrian authorities.
MYTH 3 – The unification of Romania and Moldova incurs unbearable financial costs and a potential economic destabilisation could spread within the EU.
Germany spent 1.6 trillion USD on the reunification. Subsequently, German companies had a 4.9 trillion USD increase in turnover. CIA analysts estimate that the GDP growth (1990 – 2010) associated with the German unification and the country’s increase in status and international visibility goes up to 150 billion USD per year.
According to the Black Sea University Foundation, the unification would cost, over 20 years, half of Romania’s current GDP. The report concludes that the cost may initially seem great, but within the context of a national economy, it is manageable.
Furthermore, economists have estimated that a reunification of Romania and Moldova would lead to an annual GDP growth of 10% based on an increase of Romanian companies’ turnover. The increased geopolitical status of the country would bring an extra 5% to 10% GDP growth per year. As economic benefits far outweigh the costs, the reunification process would basically pay for itself.