Inauguration of governor of Dreamland... Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“The ceremony to invest the new governor revealed the fact that the Dreamland will most probably be also isolated at national and international levels. The point is the procedure for investing the new governor was performed not only in the absence of the: a) senior administration of the Republic of Moldova; b) members of Parliament, except those who were elected on the ticket of the Shor Party; c) the four former governors of Gagauzia; but also in the absence of d) representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Republic of Moldova. This is a unique result for the eighth investiture of the governor of Gagauzia...”

When dreams come true...  

On July 19, 2023, there was held a ceremony to install the substituent of Ilan Shor – Yevgenia Gutsul – as governor of Gagauzia. The ceremony was a showy one, far from the status of a solemn meeting of the People’s Assembly and the Tribunal (Appeals Court) of Gagauzia, as Article 64 of the statutes of the autonomous unit provide. Anyway, the inauguration wasn’t held in accordance with the legal provisions and customs, but according to the imagination of the one who felt victorious. As the press was unable to find out who paid the extra-costs associated with the decoration of the venue and invitation of foreign artists, it is presumed that this was done by the backer of the election campaign. Nonetheless, the inauguration of the governor of Gagauzia was very much like the marriage ceremony of Ilan Shor, which was staged at the Palace of the Republic. As they say – style is the man himself!

After the inauguration, the whole attention of public opinion turned now to the method of transforming Gagauzia into Ilan Shor’s Dreamland. The point is the latter assumed responsibility for fulfilling the electoral promises and program of the nominal governor: “I pledge and bear responsibility for each promise stipulated in the election program of Yevgenia Gutsul”. The promises can be divided into four categories: investment; social; charitable; related to internal and international policy. These deserve to be thoroughly analyzed.

Electoral promises and their fulfillment

According to calculations, the building of the Dreamland will necessitate investments of €500 million. The construction of an international airport in Comrat is the starting point that will necessitate €100 million and the facility is to be put into operation on June 1, 2025. The beginning of the construction of the airport is yet late as the works were to start on June 1 this year. So, for now the approximately 4,000 specialists who are to be hired to build the airport haven’t yet come. It should be noted that the launch of the works to construct the international airport in Comrat without the coordination of the central authorities means that the airspace of Gagauzia and of the Republic of Moldova are separate, do not intersect each other and have nothing in common. Those who didn’t know this thing so far should learn it.

The social promises amount to the raising of the pensions and salaries by 30% during two years, but no reference is made to the rate of inflation. To achieve these strategic goals, governor Yevgenia Gutsul should do nothing at all. The point is the gross average monthly salary grew by over 30% the past two years, while pensions grew even more. Inertia works in an autonomous way. On the other hand, the charitable promises amount to the opening of social stores and drugstores and of an amusement park, Gaguzia-Land, which will provide recreational services free of charge. In fact, the charitable acts cost yet. In the case of the Shor Party, the cost is electoral in character – stores with relatively reduced prices and free entertainment in exchange for the electoral support of beneficiaries. After the party was declared unconstitutional, charity lost its motivation. So, we will yet see if the Dreamland can be built without electoral motivation.

The biggest accomplishment will be yet achieved by governor Yevgenia Gutsul in the linguistic fled – the offering of the status of official languages to the Russian and Gagauz languages. Under Article 3 of the Law on the special legal status of Gagauzia, which was adopted three decades ago: “Romanian, Gagauz and Russian are the official languages of Gagauzia”. The given provision is also stipulated in Article 16 of the Statutes of Gagauzia, which were adopted over 25 years ago so that the success of the new governor is guaranteed. It will be harder to fulfill the promise concerning the appointment of the regional prosecutor by the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia and the Bashkan. Indeed, Ilan Shor’s Dreamland is non-accomplishable without a prosecutor of Gagauzia named to the post without the involvement of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Eepublic of Moldova. This desideratum will probably become achievable only together with the putting into operation of the international airport in Comrat, which is when the airspace of Gagauzia becomes independent from that of the Republic of Moldova.

Dreamland can exist only in isolation...

The ceremony to invest the new governor revealed the fact that the Dreamland will most probably be also isolated at national and international levels. The point is the procedure for investing the new governor was performed not only in the absence of the: a) senior administration of the Republic of Moldova; b) members of Parliament, except those who were elected on the ticket of the Shor Party; c) the four former governors of Gagauzia; but also in the absence of d) representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Republic of Moldova. This is a unique result for the eighth investiture of the governor of Gagauzia.

It turned out that no one wants to associate oneself with Ilan Shor’s Dreamland. It is curious, but the absence of ex-governor Irina Vlah from the investiture was felt most obviously. Recently, she took part in the inauguration of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but didn’t attend the symbolical procedure for confirming the continuation of power at regional level –the transfer of duties to the newly elected governor. The truth is Irina Vlah has future ambitions in national politics and cannot afford to make even the smallest allusion to any tie with the Shorist legion. Representatives of the pro-Russian parties were also absent. These say one thing, but dream of another thing. On the one hand, they condemn the outlawing of the Shor Party. On the other hand, they expect that the Shorist voters, which are corrupted by charity acts, will join them.

We can also realize why the invitation to take part in the inauguration of the new governor was ignored by the diplomats of European states. The point is the accusation made by the Shorists of Europe - that these commit a genocide against the Jews on the territory of the Republic of Moldova - is absolutely disconcerting. This fact was confirmed by the position of Israel’s Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, who condemned the Shorist speculations and the impertinence to equate the drama of the Jewish people with the common law crimes committed by the Shorist leaders. We can also understand the reticence of the Turkish diplomats who ignored the invitation to take part in the investiture as Turkey always behaved correctly in its bilateral relations with the Republic of Moldova, while the participation by a convicted swindler who stole the US$1 billion in the inauguration of a marionette is not at all comme il faut for the representatives of a regional government.

The absence of Russian diplomats from the inauguration is yet enigmatic. The truth is Russia is the only country whose officials openly stated their support for the Shorist group and the newly elected governor: “The Moldovan authorities are obliged to respect the law of the inhabitants of the autonomous unit, who said an unambiguous “no” to the rupture of ties with Russia”. In such circumstances, the non-participation by the Russian diplomats in the investiture can be related to the very vague promises concerning the intentions to cooperate with Russia, which amount only to the opening of a representative office of Gagauzia in Moscow. It is not clear for what purpose. If the promise had been more precise and referred explicitly, for example, to the persuasion of the Gagauz ethnics who work in Russia to accept the Russian nationality in exchange for taking part in the special military operation, things would have developed differently. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Old friendship does not go rusty...   

So, it is clear why the inauguration of the new Bashkan of Gagauzia wasn’t attended by: the foreign diplomatic corps; former governors of the autonomous unit, including Irina Vlah; MPs and representatives of the pro-Russian parties of the Republic of Moldova. The non-participation by senior Moldovan officials remained non-elucidated. It should be noted that several voices have been yet heard and these condemned the senior administration’s refusal to take part in the mentioned event. The most resounding voice was that of Vlad Filat, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), which recently declared itself a unionist party.

The leader of the PLDM, in a courageous way, decided to reprove the country’s leaders: “Missis Sandu didn’t realize and will never realize that being the President of the Republic of Moldova means being the President of all the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. Without any exception. Being the President means uniting the citizens, not splitting them. The President of the RM does not have the right to divide them into “ours” and “others”. We do not have what to expect from Misters Grosu and Recean – they serve Missis Sandu and are not connected to the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. The small people use power to do small deeds. That’s all. Today, the small people from large offices in Chisinau show once again to the citizens of Gagauzia that they do not respect them and do not consider them citizens of the Republic of Moldova”. The effect was felt in two days, when President Maia Sandu, under the pressure of the PLDM and journalists, had to explain why she didn’t attend the investiture: “I don’t think it is right to go to the inauguration of a person who in the election campaign was supported by a criminal group that forms part of a political party that meanwhile was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court”.

We see that criticism has an effect. What is more important is that we underlined the different ways in which political phenomena are addressed by statesmen, including those in detention, and by smaller politicians. For Vlad Filat, it does not really matter that the newly elected governor of Gagauzia is a simple substituent of Ilan Shor and this was confirmed by the latter, who was
sentenced to 15 years in jail for swindle, stole the US$1 billion and denounced Vlad Filat for offering him $200 million bribe. The state interest and interethnic harmony actually matter! Surely, we can admit that the cooperative élan of the PLDM is based on Shor’s assertions that he has access to financial resources for investing about €500 million in Gagauzia. With such resources available, old friendship does not go rusty!

There is yet a problem – the method of distinguishing between good and evil shown by the leader of the PLD M – is challenged not only by the diplomatic corps and former governors of Gagauzia. It is also
challenged by opinion leaders from Gagauzia: “The pompous organization by Y. Gutsul… of a public videoconference in the Comrat Square, in which Mister I. Shor was allowed to address … the people of Gagauzia, represents nonobservance of the country’s Constitution. On the other hand, is a slap given to the administration of the Republic of Moldova of which the Gagauz autonomous unit forms part”. It’s a pity that the representatives of the country’s administration weren’t present in the Comrat Square for the whole world to hear how resounding the slap given by Ilan Shor can be. The good side is that after the determined intervention of Vlad Filat, we can expect that the party’s rating in Gagauzia will improve.

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