Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Gagauz Assimilating to Russian Nation and Emigrating, Threatening Future of Autonomy, Turkish Journalist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 15 – The Gagauz issue is typically discussed only in terms of the relationships between the autonomy’s government and Chisinau, on the one hand, and/or between the Gagauz and Moscow, on the other, Turkish journalist Nadir Tiflisi says, approaches that typically ignore what is happening within the Gagauz nation and its leaders.

            With regard to the Gagauz population, two trends are especially important: emigration from the region to Russia, Turkey or Ukraine is so great that the difference between the claimed population of Gagauzia (120,000) and actual population (75,000) has become an abyss (

            And increasingly Gagauz use Russian rather than their own Turkic language in all interactions outside the home. That pattern, which has its roots in Russian and Soviet policy of encouraging Russian and earlier Romanian policy of discouraging Gagauz has opened the way to assimilation, not to the Moldovan nation but to the Russian one, Tiflisi continues.

            With regard to the political leadership in Gagauzia, there are two other circumstances which play a role: the arrangement between Chisinau and Moldova does not include a mechanism for resolving conflicts and so conflicts often fester and grow, and Gagauz leaders must simultaneously be pro-Russian to be elected and deal with Chisinau to survive.

            The Turkish journalist says that the future of Gagauzia and the Christian Turkic Gagauz  is also affected by two other factors: the large number of Gagauz in Ukraine and Moscow’s involvement with that group, the existence of arms caches and guns held by local police inside Gagauzia that might be used in the event of a more serious clash with Chisinau.

            But he concludes by suggesting that while it is possible that the situation in Gagauzia could explode if Russia advances further into Ukraine in the Odessa direction, the lack of a common border between Gagauzia and Russian forces and the state of the Gagauz nation and its dispersal make it unlikely that it will become a second Transnistria.


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