On December 22, 2020, the members of the Parliamentary Working Group on Gagauzia (PWG), members of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and Peoples Assembly of Gagauzia, participated in a duplex TV show entitled “Progress made by Gagauzia since the adoption of the special legal status”. The TV show was dedicated to the 26th anniversary of the adoption of the law on the special legal status of Gagauz autonomy and was broadcasted simultaneously at the national television Moldova 1 and local Gagauz Regional Television – GRT.
Vlad Batrincea, the Vice Speaker of the Parliament, and MP from the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova, who is also a co-chairman of the Working Group on Gagauzia (PWG), emphasized that existence of a constructive dialogue already represents an important step, while establishment of the Working Group on Gagauzia contributes to improvement and harmonization of the national legislation that affects the Gagauz Autonomy.
The ‘Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia’ was adopted in 1994, and a lot has changed politically and legally in the meantime. We studied the legislation and identified shortcomings. In particular, we identified problems with the functioning of certain public bodies. Also the fact that the status of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia is not clearly spelled out, and competencies are not distributed between Chisinau and Comrat. We found a way to improve the legislation in order to fix that. – Batrincea stressed
During the teleconference, Gheorghi Leiciu, the co-chairman of the Working Group on Gagauzia, appreciated the progress made by the members of the Parliament and the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia (PAG). At the same time, he noted that members of the Working Group are politicians with factions and parties behind them.
It is often necessary to explain that Gagauzia does not represent any danger for the statehood and territorial integrity of the country. – the MP said
Vladimir Bolea, a member of the Working Group, and MP from the party ‘Action and Solidarity’ (PAS), stressed that the dialogue between Chisinau and Comrat should be developed. Bolea believes that one of the most important outcomes of the joint work of the Parliament and the PAG is the establishment of a trust-based relationship.
Interethnic relations are like neurosurgery. It is necessary to take into consideration a lot of things, to know a lot, to show mutual respect and understanding in order to establish trust-based relations. – Bolea said
He emphasized that experts of the CMI project, which specializes in conflict prevention and resolution through an informal dialogue and mediation, helped in building a constructive dialogue between Moldovan and Gagauzian MPs.
Alexandr Tarnavschi, a member of the Working Group and a member of the PAG, said that members of the Working Group conditionally “divided all issues into three baskets”. The first basket contains social and economic issues that do not require any political will, the second basket contains normative changes, and the third one contains issues that require serious discussions. These are constitutional entrenchments of the status of Gagauzia and implementation of language policies.
The Gagauzia development plan prepared by the Government became the culmination of these discussions. We studied how it was implemented. More than 60% of the planned activities have been implemented, in particular, depoliticization of the Road Fund, when each locality gets a clear funding formula. The Head of Gagauzia became a member of the Road Fund and of the Regional Development Fund, a fact which increased transparency of these Funds for Gagauzia. – the PAG member mentioned
Among the positive moments, Tarnavschi mentioned that Chisinau and Comrat managed to establish a dialogue that is independent from relations between leaders of Gagauzia and Moldova.
Previously, relations between Comrat and Chisinau were built based on what relations the Moldovan authorities and those of Gagauzia had. But we have created institutional opportunities to change that, so that the relations between Chisinau and Comrat do not depend on the personal relations of top officials. We put functionality on the forefront.
Francesco Palermo, the Director of Eurac Research, who took part in the show via video link reminded us that autonomy is an important tool for promotion of multiculturalism. He said that Moldova’s commitment to autonomy is extremely positive and is a model for the entire region.
‘Gagauzian Draft Laws’
While speaking about the basic plans and priorities of the Working Group, Vlad Batrincea pointed out that the draft laws that were developed by the Group are registered with the Parliament. According to Batrincea, these are not only the drafts concerning the special status of Gagauzia.
This is a draft law on culture and protection of national heritage, draft laws in the environmental sphere, and drafts on distribution of competencies between state institutions, police, tax and environmental services. All these drafts are more of a technical nature.the MP said
He emphasized that one cannot speak about the threat of federalization, since the agenda of the Working Group is about harmonization of relations between two parts of a single whole.
Ecaterina Jecova, a PAG member and a member of the Working Group, noted that in the course of 20 years, there has been some tension between Chisinau and Comrat, and only in the last five years they started looking for some kind of a joint development path.
The CMI played a major role in establishing this dialogue. This is how this platform appeared, where we talk productively about the interests of Gagauzia. Previously, there was emotional and psychological tension, which prevented the parties from hearing each other. But CMI experts helped us to hear each other. – Jecova said
She believes that the key priority of the Working Group was to establish a dialogue, which is now being successfully implemented. In addition, Ms. Jecova reminded us that the issue of studying the Gagauzian and the state language remains high on the agenda of the dialogue between the Parliament and the PAG.
We come to the fact that after 26 years, the Gagauz will have an opportunity to study their mother tongue and also the state language. It is good that the Gagauz want to have opportunities for that.
the member of PAG stated
Vladimir Bolea noted that he is satisfied with the results of meetings of the Working Group on Gagauzia, and he attributed the failure to implement the plan by 100% to the lack of investments rather than to political problems. “The work on these issues will be continued”.
The co-chairman of the Working Group Vlad Batrincea also noted that “It is necessary to concentrate not on political battles, but on finding money to cover projects”.
CMI Moldova country manager, Steve Young, congratulated all members of the group stating that all members of the group were dedicated to finding solutions and this was particularly important under the current conditions.
In his turn, Alexandr Tarnavschi thanked CMI and the Embassy of Sweden with whose support the project ‘Gagauzia Dialogue’ is implemented. He noted that these dialogues have become “a legal advocate of powers of Gagauzia” and recommended members of the Working Group to move away from the ad hoc agenda setting and to start drawing up the agenda for a long-term perspective in order to ensure institutional continuity. When speaking about what still has to be done, Tarnavschi stressed that “We would like to see a platform made up of experts and representatives of executive power, so that there is no dependence on the politics”.
The last meeting of the Working Group on Gagauzia took place on December 15. It was attended by the Speaker of the Parliament Zinaida Greceanii, Bashkan of Gagauzia Irina Vlah, Ambassador of Sweden Anna Lyberg.
This meeting took place as part of the project ‘Supporting Inclusive Dialogue and Strengthening Capacities for Better Functioning Gagauz Autonomy in Moldova’ organized by the CMI with the support of the Swedish Embassy. It is a three-year project that brings together legislators, experts and other interested parties from Chisinau, Comrat and across Moldova, to find joint solutions to common issues related to the Gagauzia Autonomy.
CMI is a Finnish non-governmental organization. It was founded in 2000 by Marti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. CMI works to prevent and resolve tensions and conflicts through dialogue and mediation. The organization helps maintain lasting peace through regional programs in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.