Staunton, April 7 – Moldovan society as a whole is closely divided between those who want to remain in Moscow’s orbit and those who want to turn to the West, but among the Gagauz, the Christian Turkic nation in the country’s southeast, the vast majority remain pro-Moscow and opposed to any shift to the West.
Such attitudes among the Gagauz reflect both their sense that Chisinau will ignore their rights and fears that a more pro-Western Moldova will ultimately unite with or at least follow Romanian approaches regarding ethnic minorities, according to Prague-based Russian commentator Vadim Sidorov (trtrussian.com/mnenie/gagauziya-tyurkskij-faktor-mezhdu-zapadnym-vyborom-i-russkim-mirom-9085023).
But instead of improving the situation of minorities in Romania and reaching out to the Gagauz in Moldova, Bucharest has done neither, further alienating the Gagauz from Chisinau and its pro-Western choice and giving Moscow leverage that it might otherwise lose, Sidorov continues.
In sum, he says, “the antagonism between the Moldovan unionists and their opponents, including almost all the population of Gagauzia, has not only an ethnic but a civilizational and geopolitical character” and this has limited Turkey’s ability to expand its influence among Turkic groups like the Gagauz as well.
That is especially true now that Turkey has given up on being included in the European Union and thus is less focused on what Bucharest and other Western governments are doing with regard to ethnic minorities in their own countries and to those in other countries as is the case with Romania and Moldova’s Gagauz.
What makes Sidorov’s argument important is that the Gagauz issue is typically viewed as a bilateral one between Moldova and Russia or a trilateral one involving Turkey as the third party; but in fact, as he shows, the situation is more complicated, with Romania forming the fourth actor in this drama, something those who want Moldova in the West must recognize.