on the organization of the debate “Chances of a civilized dialogue between Chisinau and Comrat and dangerous alternatives to it”, the 25th installment of the “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” Series; Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Debate 25 opened the 2014 season of debates on political culture issues by putting up for discussion the most controversial and hot subject of the last few months. The authorities of the Gagauz autonomy decided to carry on and hold two simultaneous referenda on February 2, despite a court ruling that had declared them illegal. This added to the already existing strain between the central and the autonomy's government, taking it to alarming levels. Talks between the sides to overcome the crisis had been put off for too long, and a host of internal and external factors have complicated them when they finally started. In particular, it has been speculated that the Gagauz referenda are mere instruments exploited by the political forces that oppose Moldova's pro-Europe course. As the general public have been increasingly attracted into these political controversies, the threat looms of the situation in the autonomy to act as a trigger for a nationwide crisis. A significant destabilization of the political situation in the country could compromise a number of objectives to be achieved this year, such as the signing and ratification of the Association Agreement with the EU, the liberalization of visas, the conducting of parliamentary elections in a normal climate and others. Considering the current developments in Ukraine, such a threat is fairly likely. This is why the only solution for the tense situation in the south of the country is a civilized dialogue, based on democratic principles, between the central government and the autonomy. Debate 25 aimed to facilitate the initiation and deepening of the dialogue as the only solution that is able to mitigate the tension avoid its escalation.
This goal was achieved partly due to a careful choice of the speakers, who were selected so as to ensure a balanced representation of dichotomic positions – of both the center and the autonomy, the government and the opposition. This helped to create a calm and balanced atmosphere of discussions, which allowed for constructive approaches and permitted the speakers to make forecasts and recommendations that were quite peaceful and realistic in spite of the quite incendiary topic. For these reasons, the debate can serve as a model of addressing the political problems that have accumulated lately.
The constructive and conciliatory message of the debate was amplified by a record-high number of reporters and representatives of civil society organizations, who, already traditionally, got involved to a sufficient degree in debating the issues discussed. The discussions continued over the traditional post-event coffee. This time, too, the debate's participants representing the both sides accepted to stay and talk within this informal setting, with the project's experts acting again as mediators trying to reconcile the positions of the political opponents.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 21.01.14, “Dialog between Chisinau and Comrat is overdue, but is still possible, debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/59549; on 22.01.14, “Dissenting opinions about how situation can develop in Gagauzia” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/59554, “Chances to cancel referendums in Gagauzia are minimal, People’s Assembly deputy” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/59556; “Situation in Gagauzia is tense because of central authorities, Artur Reshetnicov” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/59557 , “Gagauz initiative has three faults, Valeriu Ghiletski” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/59558; on 23.01.13 “Gagauzia also wants to benefit from association with EU, opinion” - http://ipn.md/en/special/59588, “Referendums in Gagauzia will not have legal effects, expert” - http://ipn.md/en/special/59589.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN
Public Debate: Chances of a civilized dialogue between Chisinau and Comrat and dangerous alternatives to it