Why the “Speak to me in Romanian” campaign? It seems that although it has been a long time since the Romanian language came into its own in the Republic of Moldova, it has not been actively promoted by its speakers in all layers of society. From my own experience – in just a few days at the end of August, I read about children being kicked off the trolley bus for not speaking Russian, I saw other situations where state employees verbally attacked young people for not answering them in Russian, I learned that my sister was called a fascist because she insisted on communicating only in Romanian. I have also been personally, in the same short period of 3-4 days, in several situations where I was apostrophized, discriminated against, for speaking Romanian. Talking to friends and acquaintances, I realized that these problems are almost chronic and many of us face the same challenges on a daily basis.
Therefore, I believe that the way to truly honor and celebrate Romanian on its birthday is to take the emancipation effort into our own hands. Although we can ask politicians to do more in this direction, a population with a healthy conscience knows how to show solidarity, educate and correct mistakes or lapses in society on its own.
Thus, we come up with a set of simple actions that all those who really care about the emancipation and promotion of the Romanian language in Moldovan society can do. First of all, we can unite around the hashtag #Vorbește-miÎnRomână, which we encourage you to use in posts, messages or discussions. We can change our cover photos to show our solidarity with a movement of all conscientious Romanian speakers.
But most importantly, let’s automate our behavior of responding respectfully, but firmly, in situations where the Romanian language or its use is marginalized and discriminated against. We propose a series of steps you can use in your daily interaction in society. Also, below you can read a series of facts to remember, consumer rights or constitutional articles relevant to this topic.
Promote Romanian in five steps:
(1) Make sure that the person interacting with you is not from a linguistically disadvantaged group – tourists, recent immigrants, refugees from Ukraine or other countries. Ask, it’s not a problem!
(2) If the person does not belong to the groups listed, kindly ask them to switch to Romanian. If they say they know it badly, encourage them to speak it as best they can – it’s the only way they can gain experience. Don’t rush to correct or interrupt her, as long as you understand what she means.
(3) [Particularly in the service sector]. If the person refuses to switch to Romanian, remain polite but insistent, mentioning that as a Romanian-speaking customer in the Republic of Moldova, you ask to be answered in Romanian, which is the only official language of the country.
(4) If the service provider still refuses to communicate in Romanian, ask for the Complaints Register. Any economic operator providing services is obliged to keep such a register. There you will register the complaint, and the employer is obliged to process it within two days and inform you of the measures he has taken to resolve the situation within 5 days. Make sure you leave your contact details when you make the complaint, otherwise the trader has the right to ignore it.
(5) Document the case with recordings, videos or witnesses. This evidence will help you when you contact the Equality Council to lodge your complaint. You can file it at https://egalitate.md/depune-o-plingere/ or call the toll-free number 0-8003-3388. You also have the option of suing the person or entity for violating your consumer rights.
We suggest that, in order to keep a “double accounting” of the reported cases, you tell us about your experience in promoting the Romanian language and, possibly, about the complaints filed or just about the situations in which you found yourself. You can do so by filling in the following form (with the option to fill it in anonymously).
Facts to remember on this topic:
- The language of the Republic of Moldova is Romanian. Although the Constitutional Court ruled that this was still the case in 2013, on 16 March 2023, by a parliamentary majority vote, it was decided that the phrase “Romanian language” would replace “Moldovan language” in both the constitution and the rest of the laws.
- The only language that can legally be called “of inter-ethnic communication” in the Republic of Moldova is Romanian. In January 2021, the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional Law No 234 of 16 December 2020, which granted the Russian language the status of a language of interethnic communication.
- Refusal by an economic agent or its employees to provide the service or alteration of the quality of service provision because of the language spoken by the customer constitutes discrimination on grounds that may include nationality, ethnic origin, language or political affiliation.
- If you find yourself in the situation described in the previous point, you can refer to the following articles of the Law No 105 of 13.03.2003 on consumer protection in your complaint/complaint/lawsuit:
- Article 10. Obligations of the provider:
g) to ensure the provision of the service (if the service contains spoken or textual written elements) in Romanian, according to a regulation approved by the Government;
- Article 25. Obligations of economic operators concerning consumer information:
(2) It is prohibited to place on the market and/or make available on the market products, provide services without complete, true and correct information in Romanian or in Romanian and Russian languages.
(6) All information, including verbal information, on products, services offered to consumers, accompanying documents, as well as concluded contracts, must be presented in Romanian or in Romanian and one of the languages of international circulation.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the State recognises and protects the right to the preservation, development and functioning of the Russian language and other languages spoken on the territory of the country.
All citizens of the Republic of Moldova are equal before the law and public authorities, regardless of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion, political affiliation, property or social origin.
Sabin Rufa, ZdG Youth College