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Moldova reunification rally

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By Mark Armstrong
Moldova reunification rally

Thousands of Moldovans took to the streets on Saturday to demand reunification with neighbouring Romania. The demonstrators gathered in front of the state's government and police said the rally passed off peacefully.

Moldova joined Romania after World War One but was annexed by the Soviet Union and became an independent state in 1991.

"We want to reunite with our motherland," said one woman in the crowd. "Down with the borders! No one asked if we wanted to be occupied by Russians. For that reason, we don't have to ask for permission. We need to unite - that's all."

Moldovans are pulled in two directions - those who want to keep close ties with Russia and those who want to follow its larger southern neighbour Romania, which would bring with it EU and NATO membership. But the speaker of the Moldovan parliament has said his country cherishes its independence.

In a symbolic gesture, the Romanian parliament has expressed support for reunification.