Moldovan parliament approves law on Romanian language

FILE PHOTO: Moldovan national flags are seen in central Chisinau

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova's parliament on Thursday approved a law on referring to the national language as Romanian in all legislative texts and the constitution, despite opposition from a pro-Moscow communist party.

The move is intended to resolve a heated dispute over whether the national language should be referred to as Romanian or Moldovan.

The constitution currently refers to the national language as Moldovan, but Moldova's 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union stipulated that Romanian is the official language.

Moldova's governing PAS party proposed the draft law to bring the constitution into line with a constitutional court ruling in 2013 that the declaration of independence takes precedence over the constitution.

Some Moldovans see the potential change as righting what they regard as a wrong done when the Soviet Union sought to impose the notion of a Moldovan language written in Cyrillic to reinforce the Moldovan identity.

Angry communists and socialist deputies raised banners in parliament to show their disapproval.

"The Constitution of Moldova: Moldova, Moldovans, Moldovan language," read one banner.

Many Moldovans consider their language to be Romanian. Ohers want it referred to as Moldovan.

The language dispute has raged as the government has pursued membership of the European Union and relations with Russia have deteriorated following Moscow's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February last year.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Editing by Timothy Heritage)