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Territorial Autonomy in Gagauzia

  • Jeff Chinn (a1) and Steven D. Roper (a2)
Extract

The year 1995 was momentous for the Gagauz people located primarily in the towns and villages of southern Moldova in the area known as Gagauzia. The Gagauz leadership in Comrat and the Moldovan government in Chişinău reached agreement in December 1994 on autonomy for Gagauzia, ending a five-year secessionist movement involving both a war of words and sporadic conflict. For Chişinău, this agreement settled the lesser, but nonetheless important, of two secessionist movements that threatened the Moldovan state's viability. For Gagauzia, the agreement set the terms for extensive cultural, political, and social autonomy within Moldova. For Europe, this agreement broke new ground in granting a small nation control of its affairs within a larger state.

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Notes

* The authors wish to thank Hülya Demirdirek, Michael Hamm, Pål Kølsto, and Stuart Kaufman for their helpful suggestions on the first draft of this article, the Moldovan Central Election Commission and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems for making observation of the June 1995 Gagauz election possible, and Charles King and Trevor R. W. Waters for facilitating the 1996 research.

1. Kuroglu, Stepan, Chairman of the Gagauz Research Department, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova, personal interview, Chişinău, 30 May 1995.

2. Radova, Olga, “To the Problem of the Gagauz Ethno-demographic Development in the 19th Century,” unpublished paper, Institute of Ethnography and Folklore, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova, 1995.

3. Demirdirek, Hülya, personal interview, July 1995; Radova, , ibid.; Zelenciuc, Valentin, “Populaţia dintre Prut şi Nistru: Probleme de identitiate etnica,” Revista de Etnografie şi Folclor, Vol. 38 (Bucureşti: Editura Academiei Romǎne, 1993), pp. 12; “Gagauzi: Issledovaniya i materiali,” Rossiiskii etnograf, Vol. 17 (Moskva: Rossiiskaya Akademia Nauk, 1993).

4. Dimitrov, G., “Potekloto I proiskhozhdenieto na dumata,” Izvestiya na Varnensko arkheologichkhoto druzhzhestvo, No. 2, 1909, pp. 1525, cited by Radova, 1.

5. See Zelenciuc, Valentin, “Populaţia dintre Prut şi Nistru: Probleme de identitiate etnica,” Revista de Etnografie şi Folclor, Vol. 38 (Bucureşti: Editura Academiei Romǎne, 1993), pp. 12; “Gagauzi: Issledovaniya i materiali,” Rossiiskii etnograf, Vol. 17 (Moskva: Rossiiskaya Akademia Nauk, 1993).

6. Kuroglu, , personal interview, Chişinău, 30 May 1995.

7. See Hennayake, Shantha K, “Interactive Ethnonationalism: An Alternative Explanation of Minority Ethnonationalism,” Political Geography, Vol. 11, No. 6, November 1992, pp. 526549; Chinn, Jeff and Kaiser, Robert, Russians as the New Minority (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996); Chinn, Jeff and Roper, Steven D., “Ethnic Mobilization and Reactive Nationalism: The Case of Moldova,” Nationalities Papers, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1995.

8. Zelenchuk, V. S., Naselenie Bessarabii i Podnestr'ia v XIX v, pp. 158, 197.

9. The southern region of Bessarabia (Bugeac), today occupied by Gagauz and Bulgarian villages, was under Romanian rule from 1859–1878. During this same time the northern part of Bessarabia was ruled from Moscow, as well as the 1918–1940 and 1941–1944 periods when all of Bessarabia was ruled from Bucharest.

10. Kuroglu, personal interview, Chişinău, 30 May 1995.

11. Socor, Vladimir, “Gagauz in Moldavia Demand Separate Republic,” Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 2, No. 36, 7 September 1990, p. 8.

12. Chebanov, Dmitri Fyodorovich, prefect (appointed by the Baskan) of the Comrat district, personal interview, Comrat, 1 July 1996.

13. Gaidargi, Gavril, Deputy Director, Institute of National Minorities, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova, personal interview, Chişinău, 30 July 1996.

14. The state language in Moldova, according to the Constitution and the state language law, is “Moldovan,” in spite of the belief of some that it should more properly be called “Romanian.” This chapter conforms to the official terminology.

15. Demirdirek, Hülya, social anthropologist, University of Oslo, personal interviews, Chişinău, June/July 1995.

16. Departamentul de Stat pentru Statistica al Republicii Moldova, Anuarul Statistic al Republicii Moldova, 1992 (Chişinău: Universitas, 1994), pp. 6465.

17. Kuroglu, , personal interview, Chişinău, 30 May 1995.

18. Ciorba, Evgenia Perovna, Gagauz Minister of Education and Culture, personal interview, Comrat, 1 July 1996.

19. Ibid.

20. Gaidargi, Gavril, personal interview, Chişinău, 30 July 1996.

21. Kulak, Dimitri, journalist, personal interview, Taraclia, 26 June 1995.

22. Ibid.

23. Socor, Vladimir, “Gagauz in Moldavia Demand Separate Republic,” Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 2, No. 36, 7 September 1990, p. 9.

24. Socor, Vladimir, “Popular Front Founded in Moldavia,” Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, No. 23, 1989, pp. 2326.

25. For an extensive review of this period see Cavanaugh, Cassandra, “Conflict in Moldova: The Gagauz Factor,” RFE/RL Research Report, 14 August 1992, pp. 1117.

26. Moldova Suverana, Chişinău, 22 August 1990.

27. Moldova Suverana, Chişinău, 21 August 1990.

28. Cavanaugh, , p. 13.

29. Cavanaugh, , p. 14.

30. Cavanaugh, , p. 15.

31. RFE/RL Daily Report, No. 143, 29 July 1994.

32. Cavanaugh, , p. 14.

33. Radev, Branimir, Acting Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, personal interview, Chişinău, July 1996.

34. Constitutia Republicii Moldova (Chişinău: Moldpres, 1994).

35. Andronic, Nicolae, personal interview, Chişinău, June 1995. Andronic, a close ally of Snegur and chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Legal Affairs, together with Mihai Cotorobai, chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Local Government, and Presidential Counselor for Minority Affairs Viktor Grebenshchikov did the negotiating for Chişinău.

36. Lege privind statatul juridic special al Găgăuziei (Gagauz-Yeri),” Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova, Vol. II, Nos 3–4, 14 January 1995. The law was approved by Parliament on 23 December 1994. Reference to articles of the law in the discussion that follows are based on the text and format from the Monitorul Oficial.

37. King, Charles, “Gagauz Yeri and the Dilemmas of Self-Determination,” Transition, Vol. 1, No. 19, 20 October 1995, pp. 2425.

38. Uzun, Vasilie, personal interview, Comrat, 8 July 1996.

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Nationalities Papers
  • ISSN: 0090-5992
  • EISSN: 1465-3923
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