Recently, the Pro Basarabia and Bucovina Cultural Association attempted to present a letter to the Embassy of Ukraine in Bucharest, on behalf of the Romanian community in Ukraine, to the Ambassador of Ukraine in Romania, but the Embassy refused to accept it. Therefore, the Association presents the open letter below to the international media, via The Balkan, in hopes that its requests will reach the Ukrainian authorities and the international community, including human rights organizations.
Although the Ukrainian regime, continuing Stalinist policies of the past, artificially divides the Romanian minority population in Ukraine into Romanians and Moldavians, Romanians represent the second largest minority group living on the present-day territory of Ukraine after Russians. They live mainly in the border regions of northern Bucovina and southern Basarabia, historical Romanian territories seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and which Ukraine still occupies.
Since World War II, the Soviet Union pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing in these historic Romanian territories, engaging in genocide and forced deportations to depopulate these regions, as well as implementing oppressive policies so as not to allow the remaining indigenous population to practice its language, religion, and culture. Since 1991, Ukraine has continued these Soviet-era policies and, in recent years, the Zelensky regime has intensified its efforts to oppress the Romanian and Hungarian populations living in western Ukraine.
Recently, esteemed journalist Christine Dolan recently interviewed Marian Clenciu, long-time president of the Pro Basarabia and Bucovina Cultural Association, which represents the Romanian community living in Ukraine, in an exclusive interview for CD Media. Mr. Clenciu, who is based in Bucharest, discusses the plight of the Romanian minority living in Ukraine in light of the oppressive policies of Zelensky’s government which is denying their right to education and worship in their native language. A link to the interview can be found here:
TO THE EMBASSY OF UKRAINE
TO MR. IHOR PROKOPCHUK
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Ukraine in Bucharest
The Cultural Association Pro Bessarabia and Bucovina is an apolitical, non-governmental organization founded in January 1990 by refugees from Romanian territories under foreign occupation.
For over 30 years, it organized book donation events, as well as scientific, cultural, educational, and social events in various locations of Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina, to promote the Romanian language and culture, and to keep alive the conscience of unity among the Romanians living outside the borders of their country.
While the Soviet Regime was not able to destroy this identity in over 50 years – the identity of the Romanian national soul – since 1991 the new Ukrainian democratic, independent state has constantly threatened to accomplish what the Soviets could not, through a series of new laws passed against legal pricniples, as well as in violation of international law. The events of 2014, but especially the bloody war that is causing material damage and the loss of human life, haven’t stopped the politicians from the Supreme Rada in Kyiv from passing laws, later signed by the President, laws that violate human rights and are opposed to European democratic values that Ukraine says it strives for.
Through the diplomatic mission of Ukraine in Bucharest, we ask President Volodomir Zelensky and the Supreme Rada of Kiev to adopt the following urgent measures beginning this year:
These measures are:
1. Repealing article 7 of the Law of Education passed in 2017;
2. Amending the territorial-administrative reform, by incorporating the districts of Storojinet, Hliboca, Herța, Noua Suliță, and the mega community Mămăliga (with 5 Romanian villages) into the macro-district of Cernauți. The current division violates the provisions of article 132 of the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as international laws;
3. Repealing the new Law of Minorities adopted in December 2022, through which the provisions of article 11 legalize (as if it was still necessary!) the already existing discriminatory provisions of the Law of Education adopted in 2017;
4. Renouncing the artificial division of Soviet origin between the Romanian language and Moldavian language, and in consequence, unify the school curriculum for every school in the Romanian language from the regions of Cernăuți and Odesa;
5. Opening kindergartens and schools in the Romanian language in every town or village with a majority Romanian population;
6. Reestablishing the Department of Romanian Language and Literature at the State University in Cernăuți;
7. Recognizing and obtaining official status for the indigenous minority of Romanians living in their own ethnographic and historical lands, which had been seized by the Soviet Union;
8. Restoring the original Romanian toponymy of the communities inhabited by Romanians, where the Soviet occupation regime imposed an artificial toponymy, which is still in place today;
9. Establishing a Romanian Orthodox Office in Ukraine (following the model of the Ukrainian Orthodox Office in Romania, accepted by the Romanian state);
10. Halting the persecution of the Orthodox priests and churches;
11. The freedom to use the Romanian language during religious services;
12. Returning to the center of Cernăuți of the plaque with the first documented mention of the city in 1408, during the rule of Alexander the Good (the plaque was removed last year on the order of the military commander of Cernăuți);
13. Returning the hundreds of thousands of books donated by Romanian NGOs to the libraries in the communities inhabited by Romanians, which were confiscated by the local authorities under the pretext of „registering them”;
We base our requests on the provisions of international treaties accepted by Ukraine, on existing Ukrainian legislation, as well as on the provisions of the Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Cooperation between Romania and Ukraine, signed in 1997.
We enumerate several international and internal provisions:
In the case of refusal or delay by the Ukrainian authorities regarding the fulfillment of our urgent requests, we will propose that the Romanian Government adopt several firm measures to reduce drastically any type of aid granted to Ukraine, going so far as a unilateral denunciation of the treaty signed in 1997, based on not complying with the provisions of article 13 and article 20 of the treaty, plus the recent passing of laws that limit the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine even more.
To the measures enumerated above, which must be urgently fulfilled, we add several more, because President Volodomir Zelensky has stated: ”the Romanian community in Ukraine must mirror the same rights enjoyed by the Ukrainian community in Romania.”
Among these measures, we mention:
1. Establishing a Romanian Cultural Center in Kyiv, with a branch in Cernăuți;
2. Reaquiring the historical properties of the Romanian communities, as an economic basis for the proper organization and development of the cultural life of the Romanians living in Ukraine;
3. Local radio and TV channels in the Romanian language;
4. Publishing newspapers and magazines in Romanian founded by the Ukrainian Government;
5. Establishing a collaboration program between all the Romanian communities in Ukraine, with others from Romania.
Thank you in advance,
President of the National Council
Cultural Association Pro Basarabia and Bucovina