Gagauzia: In search of lost consensus

IPN analysis: As the old contradictions inside the political elite of the Gagauz autonomous unit are dealt with by taking into consideration, even if temporarily, the reciprocal interests, the relations between the autonomous unit’s authorities and the central authorities are, for the time being, at the stage of the ‘search for the lost consensus’.

The traditional political respite in summer has been disturbed in Gagauzia for several years in a row. However, unlike the last few years, the activity of the local political elite was mainly characterized not by scandals and confrontations, but by negotiations aimed at establishing cooperation relations and reaching coalition agreements. As a result, the People’s Assembly and the Executive Committee were reconciled. Nevertheless, the conflict potential as regards the interaction between the two branches of power didn’t disappear and may develop in certain circumstances.

This fact is revealed by the attempts of the Bashkan (Governor) of Gagauzia Mihail Formuzal to remove the coalition character of the Executive Committee that is subordinate to him. Such a position is based on a number of reasons. Given the repeated criticism of the functioning principles of coalitions – the Alliance for European Integration and the Pro-European Coalition - and the long-lasting informational war with the Democratic Party of Moldova, it was hard to imagine that he will interpret this compromise with the democratic majority in the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia as a coalition agreement.

Anyway, it is evident that the members of the new Executive Committee belong to political teams. It is hard to say if the new composition of the Committee will be more efficient than the previous. For sure the political situation will contribute to the intensification of contradictions within the executive power, without paralyzing its work, as the ordinary elections to choose the governor are drawing closer. They are expected to take place at the end of 2014 or at the start of 2015. In this connection, the position of the Communist Party (PCRM), whose members in the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia refused to take part in the constitution of the current Executive Committee, can be considered as having favorable potential. When the campaign preceding the elections begins, the PCRM will already have the status of only opposition force in the region as Nikolai Dudoglo’s team, by taking part in the work of the Executive Committee, partially assumed responsibility for developing the autonomous region. In fact, to a large degree Nikolai Dudoglo was deprived of the moral right to criticize the activity of his older opponent Mihail Formuzal.

As regards the temporary overcoming of the confrontations between the main political forces in Gagauzia, there should be mentioned two factors that influenced the given developments. The first is the contradictions that accumulated in the relations between Gagauzia and the central authorities of Moldova. The danger from outside – either fake or real – traditionally plays the role of strengthening society and the elites. Gagauzia is not an exception. The second is the overcoming or temporary conservation of the contradictions between the main political organizations at national level – the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party. It is hard to imagine that the representatives from Gagauzia of these parties accepted this ‘transaction’ at least without the consent of the central party bodies or leaders. Until recently, it was hard to imagine that the representatives of these parties will cooperate within the autonomous unit at a time when Chisinau was struck by political crisis.

The identification of the main culprit for the conflict situations, determination of the grounds of the accusations of ‘Gagauz separatism’, which are more often made in Chisinau, and Comrat’s pretentions as regards the ‘infringement of the rights of Gagauza’ represent difficult and less productive themes. The consent and aspirations of the parties to establish systemic dialogue are the only elements needed in the created situation.

There is probably no other more efficient method of finding a compromise over the compensations for the Gagauz farmers or the amendments to the Law on the Local Public Finances. The given conflicts will possibly smolder until autumn and will then amplify when Moldova’s Parliament resumes work. If the Moldovan administration prefers to avoid the unwanted and unpredictable evolution of the situation, it will be forced to devote attention to this problem. As in the case of the political leaders of Gagauzia, who do not have great maneuvering possibilities in the relations with Chisinau, it will have to look for a reasonable and responsible compromise from both sides.

The visits paid by Moldovan senior officials to Gagauzia are one of the main signals revealing that the Moldovan side is ready to examine the entire agenda of the relations between Chisinau and Comrat. Last week, the Gagauz authorities invited the country’s administration to pay a working visit to the autonomous unit in order to examine topical problems related to the bilateral relations between Comrat and Chisinau. The given letter was addressed to President Nicolae Timofti, Head of Parliament Igor Corman, and Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and was signed by the chairman of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia Dmitri Konstantinov and by Bashkan Mihail Formuzal.

For the time being, things remained unchanged: Comrat “bombards” Chisinau with complaints and ultimatums, while Chisinau responds with accusations of separatism. At the same time, the senior officials of Moldova – the President, Speaker and Premier - paid yet no working visit to Gagauzia since they took up their duties.

Veaceslav Craciun, for IPN,
Comrat, August 5, 2013.

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