joi, 2 ianuarie 1992

Reunion With Romania? Moldova Is Intrigued

The traffic on the road from this northeastern Romanian city to Kishinev, the Moldovan capital across the once-inviolate Soviet border, is heavy these days.

Merchants and ordinary residents of the Romania-Moldova border region with anything from woolen scarves to concrete to sell are taking advantage of increasingly porous frontiers to increase cross-border trade. And among the pioneers are people like Alexandru Lazescu, a Romanian journalist, who is trying to make borders irrelevant.

"I believe the future of Europe will be the future of regions," said Mr. Lazescu, the 35-year-old chairman of the Nord-Est Publishing House in Iasi. "If I live in Germany, and can cross easily into Holland or France, it's not so important what belongs to whom."

He has fostered that attitude in this city about 12 miles from the Moldovan border. After the republic, which incorporated a Romanian region called Bessarabia, declared independence from the Soviet Union in August, the border became the dividing line between two Romanian regions.

One of Nord-Est's newspapers, Opinia Studenteasca, was forced to close this year after running up an $83,000 debt. Its publishers found cheaper supplies and services in Kishinev and plan to reopen in January.

"It happens that Kishinev is one place in the former Soviet Union where socialist planning resulted in a very high printing capacity," Mr. Lazescu said. "The offset equipment there is very good."

Along with its new printing plant, the newspaper will try to gain readers in Moldova, where people of Romanian background represent about 65 percent of the 4 million or so residents.

The student newspaper will join Timpul, a weekly based in Bucharest and printed in Kishinev, and Iasi's local television station, which has been broadcasting two to three hours a week recently from the Moldovan capital. The Iasi station got broadcasting time more easily in Moldova than in Romania, where local television has been squeezed by national television.

Since the December 1989 revolution that overthrew the Ceausescu dictatorship, the cause of reunification with Moldova, which was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, has gained popularity in Romania.

Small groups of people in Romania and Moldova have pressed the Governments to unite. But the state leaders have insisted that for the time being they should remain two independent states.

A private opinion poll published in November showed that 44 percent of the Romanian population favored union with Moldova as soon as possible, while 45 percent did not favor unification in the near future and 11 percent were undecided.

"Unfortunately, there is no pressure for reunification right now," said Liviu Antonesie, a sociologist who is the leader of the opposition Civic Alliance movement in Iasi. "The population is tired and occupied with the problem of just surviving."

A historian, Dinu Giurescu, said: "I fully agree this is part of Romania. The Russians took it away in 1812 and again in 1940. But we can't just stick to emotional, patriotic issues. We have to accept new realities. Our ultimate goal should be reunification if the Romanians of Bessarabia want this, but there's plenty of time."

There is more unanimity behind the cause of easing border formalities.

Sursa: NY Times, 2 ianuarie 1992

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