Bessarabia in Romania–Soviet Union relations

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The issue of Bessarabia in Romania–Soviet Union relations was originally avoided in the 1950s, but as Romania began to distance itself from the Soviet Union, the issue of Bessarabia was brought up in Romanian public discourse (especially in a historical context) whenever relations between the two countries soured.

Despite the fact that the Moldavian SSR had a Romanian majority, Romania never had strident claims against the Soviet Union, as the Soviets could use economic sanctions or even threaten invasion.[1]

Early Communist Romania[edit]

In the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty, the Soviet Union and Romania reaffirmed each other's borders, recognizing Bessarabia, northern Bukovina and the Herza region as territory of the respective Soviet republics.[2]

Throughout the early Cold War, the issue of Bessarabia remained largely dormant in Romania. In the 1950s, research on history and of Bessarabia was a banned subject in Romania, as the Romanian Workers' Party tried to emphasise the links between the Romanians and Russians, the annexation being considered just a proof of Soviet Union's internationalism.[3]

Distancing from the Soviet Union[edit]

Starting with the 1960s, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Nicolae Ceaușescu began a policy of distancing from the Soviet Union, but the debate over Bessarabia was discussed only in scholarship fields such as historiography and linguistics, not at a political level.[4]

As the Romania–Soviet relations reached an all-time low in the mid-1960s, Soviet scholars published historical papers on the "Struggle of Unification of Bessarabia with the Soviet motherland" (Artiom Lazarev) and the "Development of the Moldovan language" (Nicolae Corlăţeanu).[5] On the other side, the Romanian Academy published some notes by Karl Marx which talk about the "injustice" of the 1812 annexation of Bessarabia and Nicolae Ceauşescu in a 1965 speech quoted a letter by Friedrich Engels in which he criticized the Russian annexation, while in another 1966 speech, he denounced the pre-World War II calls of the Romanian Communist Party for the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and Bukovina.[6]

The issue was brought to light whenever the relationships with the Soviets were waning, but never became a serious subject of high-level negotiations in itself. As late as November 1989, as Soviet support decreased, Ceauşescu brought up the Bessarabian question once again and denounced the Soviet invasion during the 14th Congress of the Romanian Communist Party.[7]

After the Romanian Revolution[edit]

After the Romanian Revolution, Romania's new president Ion Iliescu, and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev signed on April 5, 1991 a political treaty which among other things recognized the Soviet–Romanian border. However, Romania refused to ratify it. Romania and Russia eventually signed and ratified a treaty in 2003,[8] after the independence of Moldova and Ukraine.


  1. ^ Deletant, p.151
  2. ^ TREATY OF PEACE WITH ROUMANIA Part I, article 1. of "Australian Treaty Series" at the "Australasian Legal Information Institute"
  3. ^ King, p.103
  4. ^ King, p.103-104
  5. ^ King, p.105
  6. ^ King, p.105
  7. ^ King, p.106
  8. ^ Armand Goşu, "Politica răsăriteană a României: 1990-2005" Archived May 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Contrafort, No 1 (135), January 2006


  • Charles King, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Hoover Institution Press, 2000
  • Dennis Deletant, Ceauşescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-1989, M.E. Sharpe, 1995, ISBN 1-56324-633-3.