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The Republic of Moldova has appeared with this name on maps of Europe two times. The first time was December 2, 1917, when the National Council, the parliament of the time, declared the country's independence.

That republic's short life came to an end on March 27, 1918, when the same legislature voted to unite with Romania, in an act of historical justice. After all, on May 16, 1812, under the Treaty of Bucharest, Turkey gave Russia those parts of the territory of the Moldavian principality that were between the Prut and Nistru (Dniester) rivers, a region that came to be called Bessarabia. For the next 106 years, this territory, inhabited by Moldovans, remained part of the Russian Empire.

The collapse of that empire in February 1917 enabled the Moldovans of Bessarabia to renew their struggle for national independence. This occurred against the backdrop of a larger, complex process of making the transition from imperial thinking to nationalist consciousness. On April 3, 1917, the Moldavian National Party was formed and adopted a political program based on stages and actions necessary to secure national independence. These measures included education in the national language (Romanian), church services in the national language, the formation of a national army, the creation of a university, and -- of course -- setting up a parliament and executive government.

The party arranged national congresses around the points of this program. Clergy met in April 1917, educators in May, and peasants and small-business people later. But the main congress, which determined the fate of the region was held on October 20-28, 1917. This was the Congress of Moldavian Military Personnel, which adopted statements on all key points and ordered the new commission on the creation of the National Council to prepare all necessary documents and gather delegates by November 20, 1917. At the first official session, on November 21, 1917, the council selected Ion Inculet as chairman and secretary. As an example of the region's progressive democracy, the new legislature included two women -- Elena Alistar and Nadejda Grinfeld.

The Bessarabian Regional Court upheld the legitimacy of the National Council, meaning that its decisions had the power of law. Despite the efforts of the Soviet authorities beginning in 1917 (and continuing with those of contemporary communists in Moldova), unification with Romania became a fact on March 27, 1918.

Two States, One Nation?

The unification was based on 11 conditions that deputies felt were necessary to underscore the autonomous characteristics that had to be acknowledged in the process of joining Romania. However, on November 27, 1918, it became clear that Bucovina, and later Transylvania (Ardeal), would unite with Romania as well, and politicians in Bessarabia came to see that the 11 conditions could prevent the region from establishing a normal existence within Romania and so all 11 were annulled.

From the legal point of view, however, the short-lived republic passed through all the stages of forming an independent state: the democratic republic of December 2, 1917, the independent republic of January 28, 1918, and the March 27 unification decision. As a result, the Paris Peace Conference acknowledged the legitimacy of the unification itself.

Soviet Russia, however, continued to try by all means to deny its legitimacy, despite numerous rounds of negotiations. But all that ended on June 28, 1940, with the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The Soviet Union occupied all Romanian territory between the Nistru and the Prut, and it wasn't until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union that a Republic of Moldova once again appeared on maps of Europe.

And what are the relations between Moldova and Romania today? Incomprehensible. The Communists controlling the government in Moldova do not recognize the historical community of the peoples in these two states. They reject the two-states-one-nation formula of Romanian President Traian Basescu and try to prove that Romanians on the right bank of the Prut have noting in common with the Moldovan-Romanians on the left bank -- ignoring the linguistic, cultural, historical, and even territorial ties linking them.

They are attempting to artificially construct a unique nation in order to base a political platform upon it. But relations between Romania and Moldova must be fraternal -- this is the way it was in the past and it is the way it will be in the future. Efforts to struggle against this tide are doomed to fail.

Iurie Colesnic is a writer, filmmaker, publisher, and historian based in Chisinau. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL

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