“Will Igor Dodon manage again to gain the Gagauz voters’ confidence? Currently, Gagauzia is ready to accept guarantees, not promises. It will not put the cart before the horse. The region wants to see facts and then to give votes in elections...”
On January 21, President Dodon will make a working visit to the Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) of Gagauz-Yeri, where he will meet with the region’s administration and will take part in the meeting of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia (APG-Y). According to the press service of the local legislature, the presidium of the APG-Y decided to meet with President Dodon before the Assembly’s meeting so as to discuss the restoration of the joint working group on the ensuring of the functionality of ATU Gagauz-Yeri. The plenary meeting later is to take a decision on the issue.
The issue of the working group is reportedly the core of the President’s visit to the region. Towards the end of last year, the work of this dialogue platform was marked by a major crisis. Because of a lack of consensus, Moldova’s Parliament avoided adopting a series of legislative proposals drafted by the working group in 2016. But the group was partially nonfunctional and could not meet together because Parliament, since the February elections until the start of last December, failed to delegate representatives to work on this group.
In another development, Igor Dodon promised that the “Gagauz initiatives” will be adopted until December 23, exactly on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the ATU.
“The Socialist parliamentary group will in corpore subscribe to these laws and will propose them for examination. Later, we will make sure that these laws are adopted and take effect by December 23,” President Dodon said in a meeting with Bashkan Irina Vlah and Speaker of the APG-Y Vladimir Kyssa.
On December 10 last year, the APG-Y, without waiting for December 23, decided to stop the participation of its representatives in the working group, before the expected adoption of the given bills by Moldova’s Parliament.
“I know the operation principle of Chisinau. They want to disorient us, to engage us in discussions and to do nothing,” said APG-Y deputy Feodor Ianioglo, justifying the decision.
Vicious circle of promises and justifications
The laws promised by Dodon weren’t adopted – the presidential Party of Socialists (PSRM) renounced the given initiative. But the harsh position of the APG-Y didn’t last long and the Gagauz lawmakers are ready to return to the subject of participation in the working group.
The dialogue between the APG-Y and Parliament, any kind of this, takes place between the legislative bodies. Formally, President Dodon does not have the capacity to influence the group’s activity. He didn’t manage to assume the role of a definite guarantor of particular agreements. That’s why, in the context of the future session, the presence of the Parliament Speaker and president of the PSRM Zinaida Grechanyi would be more suitable. However, the visit is more important for President Dodon, who plans to win his second term in office this year.
The issue of the working group and the draft Gagauz laws long ago went beyond state policy, becoming a source of accumulation of political benefits for parties, first of all for the PSRM and President Dodon. According to APG-Y deputy Georghii Leiciu, who is the working group’s co-chairman on behalf of Gagauz-Yeri, the state of the dialogue between Comrat and Chisinau, especially within the common platform of lawmakers, is “an indicator of statehood”.
“The authorities gain benefits by exploiting the Gagauz issue in elections and by continuously focusing on the issue, making promises to the voters or turning the region into a scarecrow for the rest of the country, using the image of separatists,” Leiciu stated in the program “Nokta Live”.
The promises given by Dodon to the authorities in Gagauzia and his own justifications that nothing can be done without a parliamentary majority placed the relations between the President and the region’s inhabitants into a vicious circle that the people of Gagauzia try to break. The result of their efforts yet depends on the region’s administration, in particular on how this imagines the continuation of the relationship with the Guarantor.
Trying to promote their own agenda in the relations with the country’s administration, the authorities in Gagauzia followed the path of negotiations and of demonstrative actions. The fact that none of the attempts led to visible changes suggests that it goes not only to problems related to the choice of a correct strategy, but also to the quality of its implementation. The ultimatum of December 10 not only didn’t achieve its goal, but remained unnoticed by the politicians in Chisinau.
Credit history of Dodon
As to President Dodon, the visit to Comrat will help him estimate his chances in Gagauzia less than a year before the start of the election campaign. The distinct feature of the Gagauz voters is that they vote in a consolidated way at the national elections for their favorite. Igor Dodon could convince himself personally of this in the campaigns prior to the parliamentary elections of 2014 and 2019 and to the presidential elections of 2016. They can give the “golden vote, but can also organized political funerals.
Igor Dodon will try to explain why he didn’t deliver his promises concerning the working group to the Gagauz deputies and to regain the Gagauz people’s confidence. The problem is that for many in Gagauzia the President has a bad credit history and his new promises are not welcomed enthusiastically. Currently, Gagauzia is ready to accept guarantees, not promises. It will not put the cart before the horse. The region wants to see facts and then to give votes in elections.