Gagauzia is an autonomous region in the south of Moldova centred on the towns of Comrat & Vulcanesti. The origins of the Turkic Gagauz are somewhat unclear, however it appears that they arrived in Moldova around 200 years ago. One story has it that they were invited in by the Russian empire to occupy poorer land that was not being farmed by the native Moldovans.
The 200,000-odd Gagauz are hardworking folk and are close to the land. Unlike their Turkish cousins they are orthodox Christians and generally speak Russian as a first language, with the Gagauz language coming a distant second and the Romanian language hardly being spoken at all. As a result, Gagauz sympathies lie naturally with Russia rather than with the Moldovans with whom they share a country.
In the mid-90s Russia did its darndest to have Gagauzia secede from Moldova, thus creating a second Russian-controlled enclave alongside Transnistria. To their credit, the Gagauz and the national government of the day were able to forge an agreement which saw Gagauzia become an autonomous region within Moldova.
Now the Russians and their Moldovan communist lackeys are at it again. Yesterday, communist deputies in the Gagauz assembly proposed a motion that the state language be referred to exclusively as 'Moldovan' rather than 'Romanian'. The motion, designed to inflame ethnic tensions in southern Moldova, was passed despite a written appeal against it by the Gagauz Baskan (president). The communists prevented the Baskan's letter from being read out in the assembly.
In his letter, the Baskan, Mihai Formuzal, pointed out that Gagauzia's interests are not served by succumbing to the wave of anti-Romanian hysteria unleashed by Voronin & the Russians. Formuzal is a smart guy and would probably be thinking the following:
1. The years of Russian / Communist domination did diddly squat for the Gagauz people and almost killed their language and culture.
2. Gagauzia's economic future is intrinsically tied to Romania and the outside world, not to Russia. The major Romanian city of Galati is just a few kilometers away from Vulcanesti and represents a significant untapped market. The rapidly developing river port at Giurgulesti is, for the first time, allowing the Gagauz to export their produce direct to foreign markets. Investors from western Europe are building million-dollar processing plants for primary produce on Gagauz soil.
If the Gagauz are smart, they will learn the Romanian langauge rather than loath it, and they will live in the European future rather than the Soviet past.