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So Much for European Values – Gagauz Autonomy is Shot Out of the Government of Moldova

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Gagauzia Official Site: E.Semenova for “Vesti of Gagauzia”

The Governor of Gagauzia Mihail Formuzal, in anticipation of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Law On Special Legal Status of Gagauzia gave an interview to the regional newspaper “Vesti of Gagauzia”. The Governor of the autonomy spoke about the upcoming conference “20 years of ATU Gagauz Yeri: Past, present, and future. The role and place of Gagauzia in modern Moldova” and expressed his opinion about the present and future of Gagauzia.

– Mikhail Makarovich, what are the goals set by the conference organizers?

– We do a lot for promoting our autonomy in the world. However, we will not be able to draw attention to Gagauzia, if we don’t offer something interesting. We have offered the world a unique model of our autonomy which is useful to those regions where there are conflicts and unresolved issues of national or territorial nature. This conference is a kind of analysis of a short term historical period of existence of our autonomy, with its own pluses and minuses. We will be interested to know the opinion of the expert community on our twenty years of experience. We expect to receive assesments and recommendations for improving our model.

– In Moldova there are different opinions on the formation of the Gagauz autonomy, what do you mean by the past of Gagauzia?

– Speaking about the past, it should be noted that residents of Gagauzia were the first in the former Soviet Union to proclaim the Gagauz Republic. Representative and legislative authorities were elected democratically, which functioned for more than four years with their own finances and power structures. No country has recognized the Gagauz Republic, but it existed. Taking into account the recommendations of the leadership of Turkey and for the sake of co-existence in the Republic of Moldova on the land where for centuries all nations lived in peace and harmony, Gagauz renounced their sovereignty by agreeing to the status of autonomy. It was a wise step. In turn, the Moldovan people, being small in number and territory, gave the status of autonomy to even smaller numbered Gagauz people. Where else in the world can you find such examples of tolerance and wisdom? In my opinion, in those years the Moldovan and Gagauz people demonstrated to the world the enormous potential of cooperation.

– And how do you define its present?

– As for the present, the world today is undergoing serious changes. Decades of established rules and norms of coexistence are being dismantled, replaced with the old, and almost forgotten power of the strongest. In these conditions, our goal is not only to preserve but also to strengthen the autonomy and to define its place not only in the Republic of Moldova, but in the world. The great powers reshape the map of the world and rewrite history taking into account only their own national interests, and small nations and small states are subjected to most risks. Not only our autonomy, but also Moldova itself is exposed to risks.

– What do you mean by these risks?

– Unfortunately, in twenty years, politicians have not brought the legislation of the Republic of Moldova in accordance with the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz Yeri). Over the past few years a huge number of laws were enacted under the slogans of European integration and meeting European standards, but . Long promised decentralization successfully failed. Instead of fighting corruption we see it flourishing. These negative phenomena spread from the top to the regions. There are no criteria for the allocation of funds for capital investments. The ministries were transformed into the branches of the parties.

 A huge number of European grants is consumed by family-party clans, and Gagauzia, as a rule, is intentionally financially neglected. Personel recruitment practices by the center by kinship and favoritism complicates interaction with central authorities.

The first signs of discrimination based on national origin had emerged. The oligarchs through media resources created fictional separatists and identified their place of residence in Gagauzia, which is not true. There is a full-scale media discreditation of the very idea of autonomy. It cannot be excluded that this is in preparation to its liquidation. We understand that some want to deprive us of  the support of the international community and brotherly regions. Twice over these years the center, relying on some politicians in the region, organized coups in the autonomy with the use of the entire system of power of the country. One of them was successful.

In these difficult conditions throughout the recent years we have sought to build our own successful Gagauz model of resolving complex ethnic and territorial conflicts. In these years, we wanted to give the world a good example and were hoping to receive understanding and support from both the center and the international community. We knew that the only way to be heard in such environment – is the use of democratic methods to defend our national interests. So we held the first legislative and consultative referendums in the history of modern Moldova.

– Regarding the referendum of February 2, 2014 – there were a lot of rumors, Chisinau was originally against it.

– Not exactly, I want to express my gratitude to those politicians from Chisinau, who did not follow the “hawks” and gave us the opportunity to hold a referendum. This wise step, after twenty years from the adoption of the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia, gives hope that we can be heard. I know that the diplomatic missions may also have played a positive role in this issue. I want to emphasize their role in supporting many initiatives voiced by our autonomy. This are the realities of our present day.

– Responding to the theme of the proposed conference, tell me, how do you see the future of Gagauzia?

– Our future is in a united Moldova. Democratic and neutral Moldova, without corruption and oligarchs buying everything in our country. We have approached the point where a modernization of legislation, taking into account our national interests is essential. We expect a change in the threshold of the elections to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova to 3-4%, which will give the Gagauz a chance to be represented in the Parliament. Five single-mandate districts for Gagauzia is a good opportunity to be heard in the legislative body of the country.

We will welcome these steps, as a real separation of power between the centre and the autonomy. More independence in addressing regional development issues and more local responsibility with clear criteria of financial support – in fact these are modern European standards. We will fight for this. If we don’t achieve it together with the central authorities, this will mean that the next elections to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova will be definetly ignored by the citizens of the autonomy.

In our entire history we have never been slaves. Under the modern conditions we don’t want to be slaves to the political oligarchs and party leaders, who have robbed our country for twenty years. We want real democratic changes and we will achieve them. I believe that our autonomy within Moldova will provide a decent quality of life to its every citizen.

– In this regard, in your opinion, what should be the main objectives of the Gagauz society today?

– In the future, our tasks – to survive as a nation, to preserve our language, traditions, customs and to grow our numbers – remain unchanged. In the future we will all need a lot of work for the development of democracy in our country and its successful functioning.

These and many other questions we intend to discuss at the conference with the participation of specialists and experts at international level. This will be an open discussion, analysis, which will undoubtedly benefit our country and will contribute to the development of democracy.

Translated by Kristina Rus

International Conference “20 years of Gagauz Autonomy. Past, Present and Future. The Role of Gagauzia in modern Moldova” will be held in Komrat, Gagauzia, on December 12, 2014

Gagauzia Official Site (Eng)

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