Wednesday, January 30, 2019
To Oppose Moldova’s Rapprochement with Romania, Gagauzia Again Ready to Declare Itself a Republic
Staunton, January 29 – In 1990, when some Moldovan politicians sought to unite their territory with Moldova, the Gagauz, a Christian Turkic minority numbering 150,000, sought to declare their independence from Chisinau. They were blocked from doing so by force and ultimately agreed in 1994 to being an autonomy but not a republic.
But now, with more Moldovan political parties again talking about a rapprochement with Romania as a means of moving away from Russia and towards Europe, some Gagauz political figures are again talking about the possibility of declaring a republic as a means of blocking such Moldovan plans.
Sergey Chimoesh, a deputy in the Gagauz Popular Assembly, says that Moldovan parties are seeking to dictate their will to the Gagauz and draw them into Romania, something the Gagauz do not want, and that the Gagauz must end the activities of such parties on Gagauz soil (ng.ru/cis/2019-01-29/5_7494_collection.html).
As a first step, he tells Svetlana Gamova of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Gagauzia must have the right to prevent candidates from these parties for running for election on its territory, an arrangement he says has worked well “in the Alan Islands and in other political autonomous formations in Europe.”
That would ensure that the government in Gagauzia would be formed by the Gagauz themselves and that they would thus assume “responsibility for everything which takes place in the autonomy.” Such an arrangement would allow existing Gagauz parties to grow stronger and new ones to emerge.
According to Chimpoesh, “Moldovan parties do not simply exert pressure on the [35-member] Popular Assembly; they in fact run the autonomy thereby undercutting the rights of the Gagauz.” Indeed, as a result, they have reduced the autonomy to the point where it is meaningless.
The Gagauz issue, of course, is not just between Comrat and Chisinau. It is about relations between Russia and the West. Chimpoesh says that “95 percent of Gagauz look to Russia and five percent to Turkey,” while elsewhere in Moldova, opinion is split evenly between those who look to Russia and those who look to Europe.
Whenever Moldovan political parties talk about unity with Romania, the Gagauz speak up either because of their own feelings or at the urging of Moscow as a reminder that they will oppose any such move and could, like Transdniestria, take steps that would make it difficult for Romania and the EU to take Moldova in.
That some Gagauz are now talking about moving toward the declaration of an independent republic shows just how great concerns are about Chisinau’s position in both Comrat and Moscow. Indeed, they are a better indication of such worries than of any actual move.
One reason to think so is provided by Chimpoesh. According to him, people living in Gagauzia – he doesn’t specify their ethnicity but 82 percent of the region’s population are Gagauz – are “massively” leaving, “in part to Turkey but the majority to Russia,” a step they might not take if they expected to have their own country anytime soon
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