The cultural ties between Romania and the Republic of Moldova represent a solid bridge between the two countries, cemented by a shared history and common values
The fact that Romanian is the official language in both countries constitutes an essential foundation for this connection, facilitating communication and cultural exchange. Today, these relations are on the rise, thanks to the unprecedented openness demonstrated by the authorities in Bucharest and Chisinau to bring closer, culturally, the two banks of the Prut River and to assert themselves together in the European cultural space.
The Romanian language is an essential unifying factor, and despite minor regional differences, it constitutes an important basis for the cultural connection between the two countries. Alongside the Romanian language, we are united by traditions, customs, and historical heritage. We share the same holidays, the same music, dances, and cuisine. And one of the significant elements of our common culture remains the Orthodox religion.
The recent official visit of the Minister of Culture of Romania, Raluca Turcan, to Chisinau has opened a new chapter in strengthening the bilateral cultural relations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The discussions with her counterpart, Minister Sergiu Prodan, highlighted the ongoing and mutual commitment to promote and support common cultural projects, thus reiterating the deep connections that unite the two countries. Special emphasis was placed on future collaboration, especially through investments and support for cultural institutions in the Republic of Moldova, an initiative that reflects the shared Romanian spirit and the substantial contribution of both countries to European cultural heritage.
Cultural and artistic exchanges are a vital component of cultural relations. Art exhibitions, festivals, literary and theatrical events facilitate interaction between creators from both countries, thereby promoting shared values, traditions, and identity. Romanian films are screened to full houses in the Republic of Moldova, and Moldovan productions are watched in Romania. An important contribution to strengthening cultural ties is education. Universities in both countries regularly conduct student and teacher exchange programs, supporting academic collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Romanian Minister of Culture, Raluca Turcan, and her counterpart from the Republic of Moldova, Sergiu Prodan, discussed the history of cultural relations between the two countries during the interview. They emphasized the importance of consolidating and developing these relations, considering the numerous shared cultural, linguistic, and historical elements.
The interview also highlighted the impact of these relations on artists and art consumers in both countries. Additionally, the two ministers provided their perspective on the evolution of these connections and how they contribute to the development and promotion of culture and art in the region.
“I was once again reassured of Romania’s unwavering and constant support for our joint projects”
Mr. Minister, how was the recent visit of the Minister of Culture, Raluca Turcan, to Chișinău, in the context of the extensive bilateral cultural relations between our countries received?
I was delighted to host Minister Raluca Turcan in Chișinău on August 30, during her first official visit to the Republic of Moldova. It was a good opportunity to discuss several common topics on the bilateral agenda – first at the ministry, then at the opening of Bookfest, as well as during visits to museums and the National Library.
I was once again reassured of Romania’s unwavering and constant support for our joint projects. Therefore, right from the start, I would like to thank Romania for all the support they provide us culturally – from the invaluable investments in the rehabilitation of cultural institutions to the support given for organizing cultural events or for our artists.
What are the ongoing cultural projects between the Ministries of Culture in Bucharest and Chișinău?
There are many projects, they are beautiful, and they are designed for both the cultural communities in the two countries and for those who consume culture. It would take us hours to describe everything that is being done, so I will mention just a few examples. The Romanian Book Fair “Bookfest” in Chișinău, the Meeting of Romanian National Theaters, Romanian Film Days – events that have just taken place in this early autumn – have already become traditional for the audience in the Republic of Moldova and happen with full houses. I would also like to mention the joint events organized by the teams in Chișinău and Bucharest to promote elements listed on the UNESCO Heritage List.
In addition to perpetuating already traditional events, some of which have a history of several decades, a priority is, for instance, collaboration in the field of tourism. In fact, we aim to develop and expand common cultural and tourist routes: the “Stephen the Great and Holy Prince” Route – the first transborder route in the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic space, encompassing 30 tourist attractions on both sides of the Prut River, linked to the name of the great voivode; the Route of Wooden Churches, and the transnational cultural-touristic route of craftsmen and traditional crafts.
There are also other projects underway to promote the common tourist offer. Tourism has great potential in our countries; it can become a catalyst for local and national economic development, and it would be a shame not to capitalize on it.
Common cultural projects are an important way to promote cultural exchanges and strengthen the historical, linguistic, and cultural ties between the two countries. Could you provide us with examples of common cultural festivals that showcase traditions, music, dances, and traditional cuisine from both countries?
Just these days, the Orchestra of the National Philharmonic “Serghei Lunchevici”, under the baton of conductor Mihail Agafiţa, returned from Bucharest, bringing home the emotion generated by their participation in the open-air classical music concert at the “George Enescu” International Festival, held under the High Patronage of the President of Romania.
Another impactful event, recently concluded, is the Romanian Film Days (ZFR), now in its ninth edition. Once again, ZFR brought to Chișinău and other cities in the country both the great successes of contemporary Romanian cinema and retrospectives from the history of Romanian film. The productions were selected based on their value, confirmed by established international film festivals, as well as by the appreciation of film critics.
Among the “long-standing” projects, I will mention the Exhibition-Competition “Salons of Moldova,” which is in its 33rd edition in 2023 and is one of the most enduring and symbolic joint artistic events. Traditionally, the exhibition takes place in Chișinău and Bacău, but for over three decades it has brought together artists from all over the Republic of Moldova and from the entire territory of Romania, showcasing works in painting, graphics, sculpture, ceramics, multimedia, and more.
“Salons of Moldova” affirms and confirms the necessity of communication about and through visual arts, promoting cultural and interhuman dialogue, which is so lacking today.
To strengthen this dialogue at the broader public level, in the current year, the Department for Relations with the Republic of Moldova and the Ministry of Culture on both sides of the Prut, together with the National Center for the Conservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage, organized a large-scale event for the first time at the Botanical Garden in Chișinău, titled “Festival of Romanian Traditions.” It consisted of two days of exhibitions by folk craftsmen, masterclasses, and concerts featuring artists from Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
In this context, I must also mention to our joy and that of the public, artists from both sides of the Prut have managed to establish such good relationships that they do not need the “blessing” of the ministry to participate in national festivals or other cultural events. Thus, we observe how creations like Alex Calancea’s “Lupii” and Nicolae Botgros’ “Lăutarii,” among many others, are equally present and beloved in both the Republic of Moldova and Romania. Because here and across the Prut, they are “at home.”
Are there literary and translation projects that promote literature and writers from Romania and the Republic of Moldova? What cultural activities accompany these projects?
First and foremost, I would mention the National Reading Promotion Project “Open Book,” conducted under the patronage of Her Excellency Maia Sandu, President of the Republic of Moldova. Additionally, there are Romanian Literature Days in Chișinău, the International Poetry Festival “Grigore Vieru,” National Reading Day, and cultural projects that have become tradition, such as the International Book Salon “Bookfest” Chișinău, now in its sixth edition, and the International Book Fair for Children and Youth, celebrating its 25th edition.
One of the projects that promotes local written culture and covers various cultural areas is the “Timpul Magazine in Romania, edition in the Republic of Moldova,” which has been published monthly in Chișinău since May 2021.
Their value is invaluable, as they bring together a community connected by books, marked by the presence of Romanian writers from both sides of the Prut, literary and cultural discussions, and debates on current social issues. These events contribute, in this way, to the affirmation of our literature as an integral part of Romanian culture, as well as to the integration of the Republic of Moldova into the European values and spiritual space.
As with artists, I am delighted to observe that the world of letters has long erased borders – writers from the Republic of Moldova are published by the most prestigious publishing houses in Romania, and those from Romania are part of the list of authors at Chișinău’s publishing houses. Ultimately, let us remember that the holder of the latest European Literature Prize, awarded to an author from Romania, is writer Tatiana Țîbuleac, born and educated in Chișinău.
“I am delighted to observe that the world of letters has long erased borders – writers from the Republic of Moldova are published by the most prestigious publishing houses in Romania, and those from Romania are part of the list of authors at Chișinău’s publishing houses”
What types of educational projects are developed in schools and universities to promote understanding and appreciation of the common culture and history between the two countries? Are there exchanges of experience between students involved in these projects?
We have a lot to share in this regard. For example, the Academy of Music, Theatre, and Fine Arts in Chișinău, in collaboration with the National University of Theatre and Film “I. L. Caragiale” in Bucharest, launched the project “Education Without Borders. Theatre and Film for Adults and Children,” funded by the Department for Relations with the Republic of Moldova within the Romanian Government. The project aims to develop a structure where professionals in the field of theater and performing arts can be trained to become trainers for a theater course in the pre-university system, as an optional/mandatory discipline.
Another example is the collaboration between the National Library of the Republic of Moldova and the “Dunărea de Jos” University in Galați, which organized the Student Educational Fair 2023. Thanks to this initiative, around 4000 people, including professors and students from 14 faculties of the institution and from partner universities in Chișinău, were able to visit the exhibitions and consult the collections of the National Library.
What are the long-term benefits of these cultural collaborations between Romania and the Republic of Moldova, both for artists and culture, and for the general public?
“As for man, innermost is his nature; only culture makes him different,” said Confucius. Here, in our relationship with Romania, culture doesn’t make a difference, it is an added argument. But to preserve our culture, we must continue to create it and take care of it, including through the priorities set in collaboration with Romania, which arise from the commitments made through sectoral and national policy documents. We have a common roadmap, with benefits arising from the nature of the activities – it is important for this journey to be accomplished “together.”
Almost everything in the field of culture in the Republic of Moldova – National Culture Day, Romanian Language Day, Union Day, and many others – happen in an atmosphere of perfect compatibility and complementarity with Romania. Events held both “here” and “there” are becoming more and more frequent. Thus, from this year onwards, I hope we will succeed in “exporting” the International Music Festival “Mărțișor” across the Prut. It is more than natural, because culturally, I don’t believe we have ever truly parted ways!
Priorities and Needs:
- Rehabilitation of culturally significant historical buildings at the national level (e.g., the National Philharmonic “Serghei Lunchevici,” the Academy of Music, Theatre, and Fine Arts – formerly the Sfatul Țării headquarters, the National Theatre “Mihai Eminescu,” the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History).
- Restoration of Block “B” of the National Museum of History of Moldova for the creation of the Museum of Victims of Deportations and Political Repressions.
- Restoration of the urban villas of Vladimir Herța and Moisei Kligman, which house the National Museum of Art of Moldova.
- Hosting the “Mărțișor” Festival in Bucharest, under the high patronage of the President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis.
- Listing heritage elements on the UNESCO Representative List (joint submissions).
- Establishing an interstate working group to reform the cultural heritage sector of the Republic of Moldova.
- Seeking expertise from Romanian partners for the development/modification of national legislative frameworks in the field of culture.
- Providing support and consultancy for the establishment of a structure similar to Romania’s Administration of the National Cultural Fund (AFCN) in the Republic of Moldova.
- Receiving support and consultancy from Romania’s National Heritage Institute (INP) for the creation of a similar structure in the Republic of Moldova.
- Adopting the experience of INP in implementing the mechanism known as the “Historical Monuments Stamp” – a mandatory fee applied in Romania for certain economic operators who promote or use images of historical monuments and their protected areas.
- Receiving technical assistance and expertise from Romania’s National Centre of Cinematography for the creation of the National Film Archive in Chișinău.
“The Agreement between the Government of Romania and the Government of the Republic of Moldova regarding the implementation of the Technical and Financial Assistance Program consists of a non-repayable financial aid of 100 million euros”
Raluca TURCAN, Minister of Culture of Romania, provided more details about the cultural collaboration between Romania and the Republic of Moldova in light of her recent official visit to Chișinău. The constructive dialogue with her Moldovan counterpart, Sergiu Prodan, paved the way for identifying common cultural projects aimed at strengthening the ties between the two countries and promoting shared values and traditions.
In the context of the recent official visit to Chișinău, what are the conclusions regarding the agreed-upon common cultural projects for the upcoming period?
The visit to Chișinău was an opportunity for me and my counterpart, Mr. Sergiu Prodan, to identify important cultural projects that we can work on together, for the benefit of Romanians in both countries. Because, obviously, there are many things that bind us, and the most important is our Romanian spirit as part of the European heritage to which we contribute together.
During the visit to Chișinău, I had discussions with Minister Sergiu Prodan regarding the implementation of the funding provided by Romania, including those allocated to the National Heritage Institute and the National Museum of Romanian Literature in Chișinău.
In the upcoming period, depending on the objectives assumed by the Republic of Moldova, we will continue to support cultural institutions and public authorities with our expertise, aiming to create a normative and institutional framework aligned with European values.
What funding can Romania access for cultural projects to support the Republic of Moldova’s accession process to the European Union?
The Agreement between the Government of Romania and the Government of the Republic of Moldova regarding the implementation of the Technical and Financial Assistance Program consists of a non-repayable financial aid of 100 million euros. Its main objectives are the integration of the Republic of Moldova into the European Union through Romania and the promotion of the reform process in a European spirit.
The agreement covers various sectors such as energy, research, education, healthcare, and more. The projects allocated to the culture and heritage sector must include activities aimed at preserving and promoting Romanian culture, heritage, and traditions in the Republic of Moldova, with special attention to promoting the shared language, culture, and history.
At the level of the Ministry of Culture, we are currently considering projects for the restoration and consolidation of nationally significant buildings and monuments that also serve as cultural institutions in the Republic of Moldova. We will make every effort to ensure that these projects receive the necessary financial support, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.
How can the institution you represent support the implementation of European standards in the cultural sector of the Republic of Moldova, an important requirement in the process of accession to the European Union? Could you provide some examples, please?
The support that Romania has provided to the Republic of Moldova for implementing European standards in the cultural sector is substantial and encompasses several levels, from assistance in drafting new legislation to exchanges of experience and examples of best practices.
Regarding assistance in drafting new legislation, I would like to mention the support provided by Romania in drafting the Law on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage in the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Heritage Code and the reform of legislation in the field of cultural heritage.
Through the Project Management Unit and the National Heritage Institute, both entities under the Ministry of Culture, we are considering organizing joint education and training programs in the field of built heritage preservation. These programs would be held at mansions in Liteni (Suceava County) and Pribești (Vaslui County) in Romania, as well as in similar locations in the Republic of Moldova. Currently, the identification of monuments and partner institutions in the Republic of Moldova interested in this type of cooperation is underway.
Romania is making efforts to identify international projects that can support partner institutions in the Republic of Moldova in the field of informational development. Additionally, frequent working meetings take place between similar cultural institutions from both countries, aiming to exchange expertise and best practices. This includes the National Heritage Institute, museums, performing arts institutions, libraries, and institutions in the field of cinematography.
Is there a practice of collaboration between the Ministry of Culture of Romania and the Republic of Moldova to promote our common culture in the European space, such as joint participation in European cultural events, exhibitions, festivals, and other initiatives?
There are many initiatives in this regard, which is only natural given that our countries share the same language and have a common cultural heritage.
I would like to highlight two examples that, in my opinion, are quite illustrative.
In the field of written culture, at Romania’s booth in international book fairs, the focus is on recently translated Romanian authors. On these occasions, discussions and debates on current cultural, social, and political themes take place. Editors, authors, and journalists from the Republic of Moldova are invited to these events, whose books and activities have been noteworthy recently and are perceived as part of Romanian culture.
Furthermore, during these events, both Romanian and Moldovan authors are promoted. This includes authors like Tatiana Țîbuleac, Liliana Corobca, Iulian Ciocan, Oleg Serebrian, Dumitru Crudu, and Paula Erizanu. Additionally, in collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Ministry of Culture publishes a catalog of contemporary Romanian authors in English and Spanish, which also features names of authors from the Republic of Moldova. Last but not least, the Ministry of Culture supports Moldovan publishing houses that wish to showcase books or organize events at the Romanian booth during international book fairs. There has been a collaboration for several years with publishing houses like Cartier, Prut, and Cartego.
Another significant example is the joint activity of our countries at UNESCO. We already have four joint submissions registered – “Colindatul de Ceată Bărbătească” (2013), “Traditional Techniques of Making Bark Cloth in Romania and the Republic of Moldova” (2016), “Cultural Practices Associated with March 1st” (2017), and “The Art of the Shirt with Altita – a Cultural Identity Element in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.”
To commemorate these joint initiatives, the Ministry of Culture has organized numerous events to promote these traditions and customs, both at the national and international levels. The most recent was an exhibition of representative shirts with “altita” from both countries, held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, in July of this year.