South-east of the Republic of Moldova at the border with Ukraine (the region of Odessa).
155,646 residents (4.6 percent of the total population of Moldova, except for population from Transnistria), of them 133,477 Gagauz, 12,702 Moldovans, 7,811 Bulgarians, 3,882 Russians, 3,710 Ukrainians (according to data of the 2004 census).
Predominantly Orthodox (93%).
Gagauz, Moldovan and Russian.
Overall — 32; municipalities — 1 (Comrat), towns — 2 (Ceadir-Lunga, Vulcanesti), villages (communes) — 23 (28 settlements). ATU is structured into three districts (dolay): Comrat, Ceadir-Lunga, Vulcanesti.
Municipality of Comrat.
Agri-industrial (cereals, crops, viticulture and wine making, animal breeding, tobacco). More than 5,000 enterprises are registered (agricultural, processing, textiles, ready-made clothes), 14 wineries, more than 450 small-sized businesses. A Free Economic Zone, Valcanes, is based in Gagauzia.
End of the 1980s
Movements promoting the ideas of the cultural and political autonomy (“Gagauz-Halki” (1988), “Birlik” and Vatan (1989)) are manifested in the southern region of Moldova compactly populated by the Gagauz concomitantly with national rebirth movements launched in the entire territory of the socialist camp;
Gagauz political circles described the adoption of the law on functioning of languages spoken in Moldova as a discriminating measure and used it as a pretext to launch separatist ideas regarding creation of an independent entity along with the Transnistrian region;
The Parliament (Supreme Soviet) of the Republic of Moldova adopted a decision (#202-XII) concerning materials of the commission of the Supreme Presidium for examination of interpellations from lawmakers of the USSR and other appeals seeking the creation of the autonomy of the Gagauz population, approving a note on the studied materials (it contains some remarks that representatives of the Gagauz do not recognise); analysing the decisions of sittings I, II and III of the extraordinary congress of representatives of the Gagauz people related to creation of the Gagauz ASSR and creation of parallel bodies of the state power, adopted on November 12, 1983, December 3, 1989 and July 22, 1990; recommending the inclusion of localities populated massively by the Gagauz and Bulgarians into a joint autonomous territorial locality;
The Government of the Republic of Moldova decided (GD #285) to dissolve the people’s movement “Gagauz-Halki” for turning aside of its statutory goals and tasks, violating the requirements of Constitution of the Moldovan SSR, adopting illegal decisions;
Some southern localities of the republic held elections but the Parliament of Moldova (PD #326-XII from 26.10.1990) declared them illegal and without legal effect. The situation was tense and the conflicts worsened;
The Government approved the decision (#407) “Concerning the creation of volunteer teams in the Moldovan SSR,” these paramilitary groups left for the southern region of the republic and barrage points and checkpoints were created;
The Parliament adopted Decision #341-XII on necessary measures for stabilisation of the social-political situation in the Moldovan SSR, condemning the tries to settle political and interethnic conflicts with force and ordering the dissolution of volunteer, self-defence labourer teams and other similar illegal groups; withdrawal of checkpoints, barrages and other threats created by these teams in localities and on roads of the republic; annulment of the Government Decision “Concerning the creation of volunteer teams.” The same decision creates the Conciliation Commission of the Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan SSR and delegation of representatives of localities populated compactly by the Gagauz and residents of Transnistria in this commission;
The Parliament’s Decision (#357-XII) on necessary measures for civil conciliation in the Moldovan SSR obliged the conciliation commission to focus its activity on civil conciliation in the republic and a parliamentary commission was made up of lawmakers representing all areas of the republic to improve the mechanism of implementation of the law on functioning of languages spoken in the Moldovan SSR and to re-examine the staff attestation requirements;
The situation in the region remained tense after proclamation of Moldova’s independence, while some measures of the central authorities (arrest of local leaders S.Topal, M.Kendighelean, I.Burgudji, adoption of a decision on organisation of the referendum “on independence of Gagauzia”, the Transnistrian conflict, and others) intensified the separatist manifestations. At the same time, the efforts of central authorities and activity of the conciliation commission brought certain positive results;
The Parliament adopted the decision (#1355-XII) on creation of a parliamentary commission to resolve the problems in Moldova’s eastern districts and localities massively populated by the Gagauz, being empowered to take measures to improve the social-political situation in the regions concerned, to work out draft legislative acts on special status of these districts and localities;
The Parliament adopted the decision (#1421-XII) introducing the Latin script for Gagauz language, approving the script of Gagauz language on basis of Latin script;
The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova was adopted, with Art. 111 establishing that special forms and conditions of autonomy on basis of special statuses adopted under organic laws may be awarded to some southern localities of Moldova;
The Parliament adopted Law #344-XIII on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri) and Decision #345-XIII on enforcement of this law. The adoption of these acts marked a new stage in affirmation and development of the Gagauz ATU, with further events developing within a definite legal field, on basis of legal principles of constitutional democratic development;
The Government adopted the decision (#31) on measures of implementation of the Moldovan Parliament’s Decision “Concerning the enforcement of the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri)”, creating the joint commission for enforcement of the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia; empowering the commission to work out and propose to Moldova’s Parliament a number of documents (the provisory regulation on organisation and conduct of the local referendum in some southern localities of the Republic of Moldova; the temporary regulation on election of the People’s Assembly and Governor of Gagauzia); to organise the local referendum in some localities in the south of Moldova, elections of the People’s Assembly and Governor of Gagauzia; any decisions, statements of local authorities, parties, social-political and public organisations which are incompatible with the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia and the Moldovan Parliament’s Decision #345-XIII from December 23, 1994 on enforcement of the law “are considered null”;
The Parliament adopts the decision (#406-XIII) on results of the local referendum on inclusion of some localities from the south of Moldova in competence of Gagauzia (Gagaguz-Yeri) and setting the elections for the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, Governor of Gagauzia and the referendum on establishing of the administrative centre of Gagauzia. This document took notice of the results of the referendum and 32 settlements were considered included in the Gagauz ATU. The elections of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, of Governor of Gagauzia and the referendum on establishing of the administrative centre of Gagauzia were set for May 28, 1995 and they would take place in accordance with the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia and the provisory regulation approved by Government.
The People’s Assembly of Gagauzia adopted the Regulation of Gagauzia, a basic local law in the entire territory of ATU;
Following the victory of PCRM in parliamentary elections, the talks on consolidation of the legal status of the autonomy were reanimated. On May 10, 2001, the Parliament adopted Decision #146-XV on creation of a commission to work out proposals on adjustment of legislation to provisions of Moldova’s Constitution on special legal status of the Gagauz ATU; to raise proposals on correlation and adjustment of legislation to provisions of Moldova’s Constitution on problems resulted from the Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri); to analyse the international legal framework on problems of the autonomy; to analyse the relations between authorities of central public administration and authorities of Gagauzia and to raise proposals on a more efficient interaction for a better administration;
The Law (#344-XV) on modification of Moldovan Constitution was voted, with Article 111 of the Supreme Law being edited and the legal status of the Gagauz ATU being distinctly regulated.