In the new world some analysts, like Samuel Huntington, have desperately wanted to see religious fault-lines even where they have lost their meaning, and the fashion of seeing the world again through religions has gained much more attention than it would deserve when judging the reality.
Some Central European politicians, too, have seized the rather failed idea of seeing the church boundary as a suitable border between Europe and Russia’s legitimate interest sphere. This church boundary is simplistically expressed as «border between eastern and western Christianity», failing to understand the variety on both sides.
Not only Catholics and Protestants are disunited, but between Russian Orthodoxy and the Orthodox churches of Balkans and the Caucasus there are great differences in both theology and in political affiliation.
In reality, the church boundaries have appeared less important than the linguistic boundaries. The religious boundaries, on one hand, run in Romania among the Orthodox Romanians and the Catholic Hungarians in Transilvania (where there are also Unitarians, Calvinists and other Protestants), and in Ukraine between the Western Ukrainian Uniates and the Eastern Ukrainian Russian Orthodox.
- The linguistic boundaries, on the other hand, divide Hungarians and Romanians in Transilvania, but not the Uniates and Orthodox in Ukraine. Instead, the linguistic gap divides Moldova into the Romanian major part and the Slavonic Transnistria.
- The religious cap between Uniate and Orthodox Ukrainians has not produced any major conflict, while the linguistic gap between Romanian Moldovans and Slavonic Transnistrians has produced an armed conflict – though not without Russia’s active provocation.
THE TRANSILVANIAN CASE
In Transilvania, where Hungarians and Romanians are divided by both religious and linguistic terms, an ethnic conflict has so far been avoided. This has, however, been more result of both Hungary’s and Romania’s relative success in their post-communist development, than of lack of explosives in the Transilvanian ethnic powder keg – which is, besides Romanians and Hungarians, spiced with a large Gypsy population.
Both Transilvanian Romanian ultra-nationalists – of whom the best known is Gheorghe Funar, mayor of Cluj (in Hungarian Kolozsvár, in German Klausenburg) – and their Hungarian counterparts have agitated national hatred.
The official name of the Transilvanian university city in Romanian is Cluj-Napoca, where Napoca is the name of an ancient Roman colony that was situated about in the same place, and it has been added to the city’s name just to point out the «Roman heritage» and to manifest that the Romans were in Transilvania before Hungarians.
In fact, the Romans had solid settlement only in Wallachia and Moldavia, while colonies like Napoca were rather just military posts. Funar has also regularly provoked Hungarians by his absurd and ultra-nationalist statements, by archeological digging threatening Hungarian national memorials and by opposing rehabilitation of the official status of Hungarian language.
THE TRANSNISTRIAN CASE
However, in Transnistria the development was much worse than in Transilvania – mainly due to Russian involvement. A full-scale armed conflict exploded between Slavs and Romanians, when Russia sent its 14th Army to invade Moldovan territory – even though Russia had recognised Moldova’s independence.
The major destabilisation led to a collapse of Moldovan regime. The right-wing regime, which wished Western and European integration, reunification with Romania, and wanted to stay out of the CIS, was changed into a centre-left government.
Even though Russia’s «interventions» to the territories of Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan have been put under the umbrella of the OSCE, they violate both international law and Russia’s own legislation.
After all, Russia has officially recognised the independence of Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan. What would Moscow think about a Romanian intervention in Bessarabia or in Northern Bucovina, or Georgian intervention in Chechnya, for instance with the support of NATO or Turkey?
Since the end of year 2000, Ion Iliescu has returned to Romanian presidency, but it is very improbable that he would any more radically turn the situation backwards, unless the Moldavian instability draws Romania into troubles.
- Nobody was specially terrified when the former communist Aleksander Kwasniewskiwon second term in Poland, or when former communists have earlier triumphed in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Lithuania.
- It is true that Iliescu was a member of Ceasescu’s regime, and still in 1989-1995 he used tyrannical methods in crushing Bucharest’s student demonstrations with the help of Jiu Valley miners. Iliescu also managed to brake the real start of economic reform five years. Still he is no longer what he was in 1989, and like the two KGB regents of Transcaucasia, Eduard Shevardnadze and Haidar Aliyev, he is an opportunist whose hope is now in Romanian independence and in the West – not in Moscow.
- Romania’s situation can be expected to stay calm and stable if only Romania is not isolated from European integration and thereby pushed alone to the Russian-hegemonised world of instability that prevails between Ukraine and Serbia.
The West should not forget that Romania is a large and non-Slavonic country with good basis for its present Western and European orientation. Although Romania’s economic problems are much more difficult than those of Hungary and Poland, they are much less difficult than those of Ukraine and Russia.
The size of Romania and her agricultural sector cannot be overwhelmingly terrifying if Europe is going to melt down similar problems in Poland’s case, because Poland’s integration will inevitably force the EU to reform and liberalise its present agriculture subventionism. There is no point in fearing Romania for that, since Polish membership will already make the present subvention policy impossible. The progress that the West has over-optimistically hoped from Ukraine and Russia, has much more credible prospects in Romania.
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More about Moldova’s election results and the Transnistrian and Gagauz questions in Romania and Moldova Report, this issue.