Illegal referendum organized in southern Moldova
Residents of Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit – a region of some 150,000 people of Turkic origin – have defied two court rulings (from Chisinau and Comrat) which claimed that the referendum organized on Sunday in Gagauzia is illegal. Nonetheless, the people went to cast their vote in a plebiscite that asked whether the region should integrate within the European Union or the Russia-led Customs Union.
According to gagauzinfo.md, the turnout was about 70.42%, which represents 70.777 people. The source said that the highest turnout was registered in Ceadar-Lunga district (77.8%), followed by Comrat district (68.2%).
The results of the illegal referendum will be made public on Monday.
Gagauzia is located in the southern part of Moldova and enjoys a special status that was defined in 1995 by the Moldovan Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia.
The “referendum” was also commented by the Russian deputy minister Dmitry Rogozin. In a posting on Facebook, the official said that the plebiscite had “an unprecedented turnout.”
“Pro-European Moldovans are angry,” he said. “Let us wait for the results and then we will understand why the officials in Chisinau are concerned.”
Political analyst Aurelian Lavric wrote in an opinion piece for Moldova.ORG that the blame for the current situation is to be attributed to the Moldovan Government which “does not have a national policy.” Mr. Lavric argues that the authorities are not interested in the Gagauz people’s grievances, the Turkic minority not being involved in the decision-making process.
“Most of the Gagauz are not integrated in the Moldovan society – they do not speak the national language [Romanian], do not take part in the decision-making process,” Mr. Lavric explained. “They are not being asked their position regarding issues of interest – for example, the initialing of the Association Agreement with the EU.”
Former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, currently the head of the Liberal-Democrat Party, said that the Communist Party backs the illegal actions in Gagauzia.
Communist and Socialist MPs were present at the unconstitutional referendum in Gagauzia, urging the people to participate.
Political analyst Oazu Nantoi said: “While the Communist Party and the Socialist Party are in electoral campaign using this non-constitutional initiative, the Government is indifferent to the problem.”