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Romanian Patriarchates activity aimed at Moldovas absorption by Romania: Konstantin Zatulin

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“Obviously, the Romanian Orthodox Church headed by Patriarch Daniel is today paving way for Romania by trying to lay claims to Christian Orthodox believers in the region that has traditionally been an object of rivalry between Russia and Soviet Union, on the one hand, and Romania, on the other,” stated director of the Institute of CIS Countries, member of the State Duma committee for the CIS affairs and relations with compatriots Konstantin Zatulin in an interview to REGNUM on Dec 4 2007. Mr. Zatulin has commented on the situation related to the installing new parishes of the non-canonical “Bessarabian Archdiocese” in the jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate, on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moldova and Transdniester.

“The decision to create dioceses the Romanian Orthodox Church in Moldova, Transdniester, and Odessa Region is known to be breaking all the Church canons. Bishops have not yet been appointed there, however, which prevents Russian Orthodox Church from taking harsh measures. It is clear that expanding the Romanian Orthodox Church to the East is in the interests of those forces in Moldova who regard the current independent status of their state as temporary. Those are the politicians who initiated conflict with Transdniester following the collapse of the USSR. Those are the political forces that have for a long time already been fighting for abolishment of all Moldovan uniqueness in order to justify the need of merger with Romania. Obviously, this tendency in political life of Moldova is absolutely contrary to the official course of its authorities, including president Voronin,” Mr. Zatulin says.

“There have been different periods in Voronins relations with Russia. The fact that Moldovan-Russian relations are now improving is the result of Vorinins facing a much greater danger: danger of eroding of Moldovas sovereignty from within by the pro-Romanian political forces and dismantling Moldovan statehood in favor of Romania.”

“Such action in the ecclesiastical domain are accompanied exactly by these initiatives of the Romanian patriarch who is, in fact, trying to proselytize, i.e., solicit believers on the territories that have never been object of his affairs. This is the background of the present conflict.”

“Obviously, the unyielding negative reaction of Voronin is, firstly, motivated by his own situation: he does not lose the country of which he is a president. Secondly, his reaction objectively coincides with the standpoint of the Moscow Patriarchate who also is not intending to give in and allow breaching Church canons. The third aspect of the conflict is the Transdniester Tiraspol and Dubossary diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church that has not so far said its word. It is clearly interested that no Romanian Church exists on its territory. But the diocese has traditionally thorny relations with the Transdniester leadership,” Zatulin said.

“I believe that the events will not end at this point. It is quite hard to believe that the Romanian Orthodox Church will back up without struggle. It is more likely that the it will persist, finding support not only among the Romanian political elite but also the nationalists within Moldova who consider themselves Romanians and who want to be integrated into Romania as soon as possible,” the expert believes.

“Clearly, the issue of the dioceses for the Romanian Orthodox Church is a touchstone in its activities. It is raised now in order to test how decisive are not only Voronin but also Moldovan political elite in defending their independence. Moldova in the former times so much strived to display its independence from the old Soviet times that it failed to notice another danger, the danger of being completely taken in by Romania.”

“Such absorption, that is projected by many today, has become one of the reasons of the Moldovan-Transdniester conflict. Language controversy, the desire to enforce not even Moldovan but the Romanian language in Moldova, including Transdniester — all this ultimately led to the events of 20 years ago. Today they are trying it another way, under the slogan of restoration of territorial integrity of Moldova, only in the form of expanding the Romanian Orthodoxy on the territories belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate,” Zatulin stressed.

“The economic situation in the region is such that living standards in Romania who has become an object of EU investments are higher than in Moldova. This creates a certain attraction, which, along with the clerical proselytism and nationalist propaganda, pushes Voronin to Moscow in an attempt to unite with the Transdniester, in order to try to preserve Moldovas independence based on the Transdniestrian votes and insure that the country is not absorbed by Romania,” Mr. Zatulin maintains.

“On the other hand, if he fails to achieve that, and Moldova becomes a Romanian province, the polarization along the Dniester River will persist. Transdniester will become an enclave state. At the same time, it is hardly possible to predict that it would be able to survive on its own. It could only survive with the help of two factors: sufficient help from Moscow and at least consent of Ukraine, Ukraine under Yushchenkos presidency demonstrates uninterestedness in Transdniester. However, not everybody in Ukraine, including nationalists, is ready to give up a land that they consider their own.”

“Therefore, we should not rule out that, if Moldova will continue to further the merge with Romania, then, sooner or later, Ukraine will lay claims to Transdniester, which, in its turn, will create such an interesting phenomenon as emerging in the South Black Sea region of territories with a pretty large proportion of Russian ethnic population.”

Commenting to REGNUM on the issue of qualification of the events of 1990 in Gagauzia as genocide of the Gagauz people that is now being discussed in Moldova, Zatulin stated: “I would not misapply the term genocide. I believe that genocide is what happened in the Ottoman Turkey against Armenians and in Germany against Jews. I believe that the conduct of Hitlerites on the occupied Slavic territories can also be regarded as genocide. What about the narrow-minded Romanian nationalism that became the reason of the Transdniester conflict and aggravation between Romania/Moldova and Gagauzia, I think that, however harsh we condemn the phenomenon, we cannot attribute to it the scale of genocide. For, after all, we have international legal acts that classify genocide, and from this point of view, events of the turbulent times related to the collapse of the Soviet Union fail to match the level of genocide. Of course, there is a reverse side of nationalism, and it was so repulsive that caused the Transdniester conflict and aggravation of relations in Gagauzia.”

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