New initiative and negative appraisal
One of the first documents adopted by the new Cabinet last week was the negative appraisal to the bill drafted by Socialist MPs Fiodor Gagauz and Vladimir Turcan. The draft law contained supplements to the Civil Code of the Republic of Moldova, which took into account the particularities of the Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) of Gagauzia when registering new enterprises here.
It was proposed that the name of the legal entity registered in the region should indicate the organizational-legal form in the official language and also in the Gagauz and Russian languages, which also have the status of official languages on the territory of Gagauz-Yeri. Another proposal was to introduce a new organizational-legal form of ownership, regional one, for enterprises founded by the executive committee of Gagauz-Yeri, which now have the status of municipal ones.
Minister of Justice Alexandru Tanase suggested that the Cabinet should reject the bill. The draft appraisal prepared by the Ministry of Justice says the stipulation in three languages of the form of ownership violates the principle of equality, leading to a special approach to legal entities registered in Gagauz-Yeri, while the introduction of the notion of regional enterprise, according to Alexandru Tanase, is not reasonable when so many forms of ownership exist already.
The situation when the bodies of the central power reject or give negative appraisals to initiatives concerning Gagauz-Yeri is rather typical. Fiodor Gagauz, one of the authors of the aforementioned bill, gathered about ten examples of the kind. But the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, which has the right to submit legislative initiatives in Parliament, has even more examples.
During the mandate of the 19th legislature (2010 – 2014), the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia submitted 11 legislative initiatives. But none of these was at least examined in sessions, not speaking about being adopted. Most of these received negative appraisals from the Government and negative recommendations from the competent commissions of Parliament.
The activity of the working group for ensuring the functioning of Gagauz-Yeri, which consists of members of Moldova’s Parliament and of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, shows how the initiatives submitted by Comrat are met at the central level. Since 2015, the working group drafted several bills that were presented by the People’s Assembly to Parliament as legislative initiatives. Towards the end of the spring-summer session of 2017, as a result of consistent efforts, the bills reached the parliamentary commission and were ultimately included in the agenda of the sittings of Parliament. But the Gagauz representatives didn’t show much enthusiasm as it turned out that the legal commission modified as it liked the bills that were coordinated by the experts of the working group.
In general, the subject of ignoring the powers and not respecting the interests of Gagauz-Yeri is a key one in Gagauz society, this considerably influences both the content of the rhetoric of the Gagauz leaders in relation to the central power and the region’s political agenda. But this approach is defective. It has the capacity to maintain the rating of politicians, but cannot solve any problem.
Opposite side of the coin
The thorough examination of the experience of Gagauzia concerning the use of its powers shows that the region’s authorities do not use or use only partially the instruments for promoting the ATU’s interests.
However, the rejection of the 11 bills presented by the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia can be regarded from another angle if we focus on the analysis of the quality of these bills. There is a study made by experts of the public association “Piligrim-demo”, which says that all the initiatives contained a series of shortcomings. Among these were enumerated the insufficient argumentation of the explicative notes, lack of expertise and public consultations needed in some of the cases, non-concordance between the proposed changes and norms of the national legislation and the Constitution, terminological and linguistic faults. In some cases, the authors of the initiatives didn’t present themselves at the meetings where the commissions examined the issues and this also delayed the promotion of the draft laws.
The Gagauz initiatives systematically caused frictions in the parliamentary commissions. Something similar happened to the working group’s bills that were rewritten by the legal commission. The mass media in Gagauzia focused a lot on the unilateral editing by the parliamentary commission of the documents as these were deprived of meaning and the two year-work of the working group was disregarded. At the same time, nobody wondered how this was possible. On the other hand, no one of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, despite the procedural requirements, attended the meeting of the legal commission that planned to examine the bills of the People’s Assembly following insistent requests by the Gagauz MPs.
The institute of the Bashkan (Governor) is insufficiently used to safeguard the interests of Gagauz-Yeri. The right to hold a seat in the Cabinet is often used for political replies and statements and, to a smaller extent, as a possibility of promoting projects advantageous to the region. The frequent absences of the Bashkan from the meetings of the Cabinet are also to the detriment of Gagauz-Yeri. For example, the appraisal to the Gagauz-Turcan bill was approved in the absence of the Bashkan.
There are also other mechanisms that could be used by the regional authorities to promote the own agenda at the central level, such as the presence of members of the executive committee of Gagauz-Yeri on the boards of the competent ministries, active cooperation with the European partners of the Republic of Moldova and improvement of the qualifications and professional training of Gagauz servants.
In search of a solution
The capacity to write bills, knowledge of the Romanian language and of the national legislation are ordinary matters, but the representatives of Gagauz-Yeri are less proficient namely in this regard. The training of the deputies of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia is a separate issue. Many of these didn’t have legal experience before entering the legislative body of the autonomous unit and throughout life practiced agriculture, business and other activities that are far from legislative preoccupations.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the problem of use of powers by Gagauz-Yeri has two aspects. On the one hand, we face artificial obstacles placed by the central authorities and lack of political will on the part of the ruling political elite. On the other hand, there is the inefficient use of the available powers by the bodies of the autonomous unit and the poor qualifications of the political class of Gagauz-Yeri. No one is obliged to come from Chisinau to write high-quality bills that would fully meet the legislative requirements and to promote these in commissions afterwards.
The solution to the problem of functionality of Gagauz-Yeri should be looked for both in Chisinau and in Comrat. The assertions made by Comrat as to the “violation of powers” will have a greater weight when all the possibilities of promoting its interests are used up. Now the situation is far from looking like this.
Veaceslav Craciun, Comrat
IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.