Rising Demand for Romanian Citizenship May Irritate Ukraine

By On November 06, 2018

Rising Demand for Romanian Citizenship May Irritate Ukraine

NEWS 06 Nov 182018-11-06 06:28:55 Rising Demand for Romanian Citizenship May Irritate Ukraine

The growing demand for Romanian passports is likely to further complicate already troubled Romania-Ukraine relations, experts say, as Kiev does not allow double citizenship.

Madalin Necsutu BIRN Chisinau
The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin (L) accompanied by his Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu (R) answers journalists' questions in Bucharest, Romania, 13 October 2017. Photo: EPA/Robert Ghement

Requests for Romanian citizenship in Ukraine 9;s Odessa region have doubled since the start of 2017, which analysts say might cause further tension with Bucharest â€" already angered by the adoption of language laws promoting Ukrainian in 2017.

Bucharest scrapped its consular fees for passports in 2017, which had amounted to around 300 US dollars.

"This amount mattered to them [passport solicitants]. Any consular service they seek has now become more attractive, because everything is free now," Romania's consul in Odessa, Emil Rapcea, said, quoted by Romanian public TV, TVR.

However, experts say the rise in people seeking Romanian citizenship could create tensions, as Ukraine does not recognize double citizenship.

"Double citizenship has no certain legal framework in Ukraine, as the law there fails to recognize such a legal relationship, despite recommendations from Western partners to take the experience of EU countries into account," Romanian political analyst Mihai Isac t old BIRN.

He said getting EU rights via citizenship of EU member Romania has a practical purpose for many citizens in Ukraine, as it means they can travel, work or study in European states.

Anatol Popescu, president of the Bessarabia Association of Romanians from the Odessa region, told BIRN that most of those seeking Romanian passports were non-Romanian speakers who wanted to profit from claiming Romanian inheritance.

Those seeking Romanian citizenship must prove that their ancestors were Romanians who lost their citizenship against their will after the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia [now Moldova] and northern Bukovina from Romania in June 1940.

Ukrainian statistics show that today only two schools use a Romanian language curriculum in the Odessa region â€" down from 18 when Ukraine declared independence from the USSR in 1991.

"Relations between Bucharest and Kiev were also affected by the adoption in 2017 of the new language law in Ukraine. Within a few years, Romanians studied only a few subjects in their mother tongue in school, and the rest in Ukrainian," Isac said.

Ukraine also annoys Romania by still insisting on a distinction between Romanian and the so-called Moldovan language, which Romania says was a mechanism used in the Soviet period to divide two communities with the same origins, culture and language.

Anatol Popescu said that is one reason why official statistics count 123,600 "Moldovans" and only 726 "Romanians" living in the region of Odessa.

Since 2019 will be an electoral year, with both parliamentary and presidential elections, experts say nationalist electoral themes are likely to grow in Ukraine, while the ongoing conflict with Russia over the Crimea and eastern part of the country will affect all the minorities in the country.

This has already happened in the Cernauti region in the south-centre of the country, where ex-prime minister Yulia Tymos henko has been campaigning for the presidential race.

On November, Ukrainian nationalists accused her of serving both Romanian and Russian interests.

Tymoshenko told local media that the local Ukranian secret services, the SBU, was behind the allegation. The local leader of Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party in the Cernauti region is Ioan Muntean, an ethnic Romanian.

In the autumn of 2017, the new education law adopted in Ukraine that was designed to curb minority language schools in several years and force pupils to study only in Ukrainian drew strong criticism from Romania.

Read more:

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