When the Government implemented reforms, there was no internal cohesion in Gagauzia and the central authorities cheated us as they wanted...
Reaction to threats
The central authorities of Moldova strangle the powers of the Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) of Gagauzia by disregarding its political status, while the current economic problems make the situation in the region more serious, forcing the local population to migrate to other states. How can one deal with these challenges and which are the major ones among these? These issues were discussed in the Congress of Deputies of all levels that was held in Comrat on April 21.
The meeting that borrowed the name of the similar events that took place in the region at the start of the 1990s brought together deputies from the ATU, including the Bashkan and members of the Executive Committee and of the People’s Assembly (PAG-Y), mayors and local councilors. The legislation of the autonomous unit does not envision such a form of assembly. However, congresses of the kind take place in Gagauz-Yeri once in several years, being treated as a reaction of society and the local political elite to the dangers threatening the ATU.
Several events, including the annulment by court judgments of articles from the Regulations of Gagauz-Yeri that guarantee the legislative immunity of the members of the PAG-Y and the multiple activities staged by the unionists during the past few months, served as a reason for organizing the congress. The lack of any results in the activity of the working group of Parliament and PAG-Y concerning the ensuring of the functionality of the ATU was also among the reasons.
“What is more important: politics or the economy?”
The ignoring of the provisions of the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri) was the leitmotif of all the speeches at the congress. Therefore, many of the speakers made reference to the central authorities and the local elected officials who often act to the detriment of the status of Gagauzia.
The problem of the powers of Gagauzia, which was raised by Bashkan Irina Vlah, is not rather spread in the Gagauz information sphere. She made reference to the interdependence between the big politics and the regional economy, wondering which of these is more important.
“All the governors of Gagauzia faced a dilemma: What is more important: politics or the economy of the region? What should be solved first?” asked Vlah. She gave as an example the problem of migration in the region, which has continued for decades. According to the Bashkan, the given problem appeared not because the powers of the ATU were narrowed, but because the local authorities could not create economic development conditions. The governor of Gagauzia concluded that the defense of the powers of the ATU is important, but priority should be given to the socioeconomic matters, which would create conditions for the return of migrants home.
The problem of relations between the political and economic priorities was also mentioned in his speech by the Member of Parliament on behalf of the Democratic Party Nicolai Dudoglo. He told about the structural reforms done by the Government and the influence of these reforms on Gagauzia.
“When the Government implemented reforms, there was no internal cohesion in Gagauzia and the central authorities cheated us as they wanted. They allocated a large budget and we received European grants, but they took many powers away from us,” stated Dudoglo.
The MP referred also to the reform that divided the republic’s territory into three development regions – North, Center and South. When changes were made in different areas, Gagauzia was taken into account not as a separate entity, but as a component part of the South Region. In particular, most of the decentralized services managed by the Government of Moldova, which earlier had local offices in Comrat or in the district centers of Gagauzia, started to be transferred to Cahul. Duduoglo said such developments are due to the excessive trust put by the Gagauz people in the Moldovan politicians, who didn’t honor their commitments.
MP on behalf of the Party of Socialists Feodor Gagauz laid emphasis on the political component. In his speech, he said the problems between Comrat and Chisinau derive from the lack of constitutional guarantees for the powers stipulated in the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri). According to him, the same circumstances generate the impossibility of realizing the economic development potential.
“When proclaiming in 1994 the autonomous unit Gagauz-Yeri, the Moldovan authorities didn’t create a complex legal mechanism of interaction between the central administration and the autonomous region. As a result, the powers provided by the law can be ignored if they are not strengthened at constitutional level,” noted Gagauz.
He proposed that the administration of Gagauzia should submit a legislative initiative to Parliament and ask that the given changes should be enshrined in the Constitution.
No powers without union
In general, the “congress of deputies” took place without surprises. The set agenda was predictable and generally confirmed the stability of the message in the political narrative in the region. A similar event was held four years ago, after the famous local referendum concerning the foreign policy course. The examination of the resolutions of the present and previous congresses shows that most of the subjects migrated from 2014 to 2018. Among these are the enshrining of the powers of the ATU in the Constitution, the financial discrimination reproaches and the call to the international organizations, mainly European ones, to become involved in the resolution of the problematic issues that exist in the relation with Chisinau.
In virtue of some objective causes, the dialogue with Comrat regarded from the positions of Chisinau does not envision a change in current tendencies. On the one hand, it can be presumed that the national political elites have different viewpoints about the future of Gagauzia – starting with the dismantling of the political component and transformation of the region into a cultural autonomous unit and ending with the consolidation of the political status so as to have stable supporters in the person of the Gagauz voters. The problem is that the partisans of the second scenario do not have many chances of implementing this owing to the Gagauz side.
Currently, Chisinau cannot say that it has a common partner that expresses the consolidated viewpoint on the whole range of subjects in the person of Comrat. There is the Bashkan that has a position, the PAG-Y that has another position and the Gagauz members of Moldova’s Parliament who take sides with Gagauzia, but who, given that they form part of the national political bodies, express party interests one way or another. Most probably, as long as this “back and forth” is maintained, the powers of the ATU Gagauzia will be on the wane, not because of the ill intentions of some of the politicians, but because of the political canons. If the state system is not pressed sufficiently from down and no one defends the rights at the local level, centralization processes naturally start to prevail in the state. This principle also refers to the lobbying for the economic interests of the region.
Veaceslav Craciun, Comrat
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