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Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (Gagauz Yeri)
Gagauz Yeri
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Tarafım
File:Gagauz Yerin Gimnı.ogg
Moldova (white).
and largest city
46°19′N 28°40′E / 46.317°N 28.667°E / 46.317; 28.667
 -  Governor Mihail Formuzal
 -  Chairman of the
People's Assembly
Ana Harlamenco
Autonomous region of Moldova
 -  Created December 23, 1994 
 -  Total 1,832 km2
707 sq mi
 -  2011 estimate 160,700
 -  Density 87.7/km2
227.1/sq mi
Currency Moldovan leu (MDL)
a. "Moldovan" used as formal official name.

Gagauzia (Gagauz: Gagauziya or Gagauz Yeri; Romanian: Găgăuzia; Russian: Гагаузия, Gagauziya), formally known as the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (Gagauz Yeri) (Gagauz: Avtonom Territorial Bölümlüü Gagauz Yeri; Romanian: Unitatea Teritorială Autonomă Găgăuzia; Russian: Автономное территориальное образование Гагаузия, Avtonomnoye territorialnoye obrazovaniye Gagauziya), is an autonomous region of Moldova. Its name comes from the word "Gagauz", most likely derived from the name Gok-oguz, which, in turn, refers to descendants of the Turkic Oghuz tribes.


According to some theories, the Gagauz people descend from the Seljuq Turks that settled in Dobruja, or from Pechenegs, Uz (Oghuz) and Cuman (Kipchak) people that followed the Anatolian Seljuq Sultan Izzeddin Keykavus II (1236–1276). More specifically, one clan of Oghuz Turks migrated to the Balkans during the inter-tribal conflicts with other Turks. This Oghuz Turk clan converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity after settling in the Eastern Balkans (in Bulgaria) and were called Gagauz Turks. A large group of the Gagauz later left Bulgaria and settled in southern Bessarabia, along with a group of ethnic Bulgarians.

According to other theories Gagauz are descendants of linguistically Turkified Bulgarians.[1] In the official Gagauz museum, a plaque mentions that one of the two main theories is that they descend from the Bulgars.

Russian Empire

In 1812, Bessarabia, previously the eastern half of the Principality of Moldavia, became part of the Russian Empire, and Nogai tribes that inhabited several villages in south Bessarabia (or Budjak) were forced to leave. Between 1812 and 1846, Russians settled the Gagauz people from what is nowadays eastern Bulgaria (which remained under Ottoman Empire) to the orthodox Bessarabia, mainly in the settlements vacated by the Nogai tribes. They settled there in parallel with Bessarabian Bulgarians in Avdarma, Comrat, Congaz, Tomai, Cişmichioi, and other former Nogai villages. Some Gagauz were also settled in the part of the Principality of Moldavia that did not come under Russian control in 1812, but within several years village by village moved to the compact area they inhabit today in the south of Bessarabia.

With the exception of a five-day de facto independence in the winter of 1906, when a peasant uprising declared an autonomous Republic of Comrat, Gagauzians have been ruled by the Russian Empire (1812–1917), Romania (1918–1940 and 1941–1944), the Soviet Union (1940–1941 and 1944–1991), and Moldova (1917–1918 and 1991 to date).

Soviet Union

Gagauz nationalism remained an intellectual movement during the 1980s, but strengthened by the end of the decade, as the Soviet Union began to embrace democratic ideals. In 1988, activists from the local intelligentsia aligned with other ethnic minorities to create a movement known as the "Gagauz People". A year later, the "Gagauz People" held its first assembly in which a resolution was passed to demand the creation an autonomous territory in southern Moldova, with the city of Comrat as its capital. The Gagauzian national movement intensified when Romanian was accepted as the official language of the Republic of Moldova in August 1989, replacing Russian, the official language of the USSR. A part of the multiethnic population of southern Moldova regarded this decision with concern, precipitating a lack of confidence in the central government in Chişinău. The Gagauz were also worried about the implications for them if Moldova reunited with Romania, as seemed likely at the time. In August 1990, Comrat declared itself an autonomous republic, but the Moldovan government annulled the declaration as unconstitutional. At that time, Stepan Topal emerged as the leader of the Gagauz national movement.

Independent Moldova

Support for the Soviet Union remained high, with a referendum in March 1991 returning an almost unanimous vote in favour of remaining part of the USSR. Many Gagauz supported the Moscow coup attempt in August 1991, and Gagauzia declared itself independent on 19 August 1991, followed in September by Transnistria, thus further straining relations with Chişinău. However, when the Moldovan parliament voted on whether Moldova should become independent on 27 August 1991, six of the twelve Gagauz deputies in Moldovan parliament voted in favour, while the other six did not participate. Eventually, the Moldovan government toned down its pro-Romanian stance and paid more attention to minority rights.

In February 1994, President Mircea Snegur promised the Gagauz autonomy, but he was against outright independence. He was also opposed to the suggestion that Moldova become a federal state made up of three republics, Moldova, Gagauzia, and Transnistria.

Also in 1994, the Parliament of Moldova awarded to "the people of Gagauzia" (through the adoption of the new Constitution of Moldova) the right of "external self-determination". On December 23, 1994, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova accepted the "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia" (Gagauz: Gagauz Yeri), resolving the dispute peacefully. This date is now a Gagauz holiday. Gagauzia is now a "national-territorial autonomous unit" with three official languages, Romanian, Gagauz, and Russian.

Three cities and twenty-three communes were included in the Autonomous Gagauz Territory: all localities with over 50% Gagauz, and those localities with between 40% and 50% Gagauz which expressed their desire to be included as a result of referendums to determine Gagauzia's borders. In 1995, Georgi Tabunshik was elected to serve as the Governor (Romanian: Guvernator, Gagauz: Bașkan) of Gagauzia for a four-year term, as were the deputies of the local parliament, "The People's Assembly"(Gagauz: "Halk Toplușu"), with Petr Pashali as chairman.

Dmitrii Croitor won the 1999 Governor elections and began to make use of the rights granted to the Governor by the 1994 agreement. The central authorities of Moldova proved unwilling to accept the results initiating a lengthy stand-off between the autonomy and Chişinău. Finally Croitor resigned in 2002 due to the pressure from the Moldovan government which accused him of abuse of authority, relations with the separatist authorities of Transnistria and other charges. The central electoral commission of Gagauzia did not register Croitor as a candidate for the post of the Governor in the subsequent elections and Gheorgi Tabunshik was elected in what was described as unfair elections.[2][3]

The present Governor of Gagauzia is Mihail Formuzal (since 2006).


Gagauzia is divided into three districts. It also is split into four enclaves. The main, central enclave includes the cities Comrat and Ceadîr-Lunga and is divided into two districts with those cities serving as administrative centers. The second largest enclave is located around the city of Vulcăneşti, while two smaller enclaves are the villages of Copceac and Carbalia. The village of Carbalia falls under administration of Vulcanesti, while Copceac is part of Ceadir-Lunga district.

Administrative divisions

Gagauzia consists of one municipality, two cities, and twenty-three communes containing a total of thirty-two localities.[4]

Official name Gagauz name % Gagauzians
Comrat (municipality) 72.8%
Ceadîr-Lunga (city) Çadır-Lunga 73.7%
Vulcăneşti (city)
Vulcăneşti, loc. st. c. f.
Avdarma 94.2%
Baurci Baurçi 97.9%
Beşalma 96.7%
Beşgöz 93.0%
Bugeac Bucak 61.8%
Carbalia Kırbaalı 70.2%
Official name Gagauz name % Gagauzians
Cazaclia Kazayak 96.5%
Chioselia Rusă (Chioselia Mică) Köseli Rus 25.2%
Chiriet-Lunga Kiriyet-Lunga 92.6%
Chirsova Kirsova 45.6%
Cioc-Maidan Çokmeydan 93.1%
Cişmichioi (Cişmechioi) Çeşmeköy 94.4%
Congaz Kongaz 96.1%
Congazcicul de Sus (Congazul-Mic)
Congazcicul de Jos
Kıpçak 95.0%
Official name Gagauz name % Gagauzians
Cotovscoe (Cârlăneni) Kırlannar 95.4%
Dezghingea (Dezghinge) Dezgincä 94.5%
Etulia Nouă
Etulia, loc. st. c. f.
Ferapontievca (Feraponteanca) 28.0%
Gaidar (Gaidari) Haydar 96.5%
Joltai (Djoltai) Coltay 96.0%
Svetlîi (Deneviţa)
Alexeevca (Alexeeni)
Tomai Tomay 95.1%


The autonomy of Gagauzia is guaranteed by the Moldovan constitution and regulated by the 1994 Gagauz Autonomy Act. If Moldova decided to unite with Romania, Gagauzia would have the right of self-determination.[5][6] The Gagauzian People's Assembly (Adunarea Populară; Gagauz: Halk Topluşu) has a mandate for lawmaking powers within its own jurisdiction. This includes laws on education, culture, local development, budgetary and taxation issues, social security, and questions of territorial administration. The People's Assembly also has two special powers: it may participate in the formulation of Moldova's internal and foreign policy; and, should central regulations interfere with the jurisdiction of Gagauz-Yeri, it has the right of appeal to Moldova's Constitutional Court.

The highest official of Gagauzia, who heads the executive power structure, is the Governor of Gagauzia (Romanian: Guvernatorul Găgăuziei; Gagauz: Başkan). He or she is elected by popular suffrage for a four-year term. He has power over all public administrative bodies of Gagauzia, and is also a member of the Government of the Republic of Moldova. Eligibility for governorship requires fluency in the Gagauz language, Moldovan citizenship, and a minimum age of 35 years.

Permanent executive power in Gagauz-Yeri is exercised by the Executive Committee (Comitetul Executiv or Bakannik Komiteti). Its members are appointed by the Governor, or by a simple majority vote in the Assembly at its first session. The Committee ensures the application of the laws of the Republic of Moldova and those of the Assembly of Gagauz-Yeri.

As part of its autonomy, Gagauzia has its own police force.[7]

Gagauz Halkı is a former Gagauz separatist political party, now outlawed.


During the last three elections AEI increase of 872.4%

Parliament elections results
2010 23.44% 13,380 59.97% 34,224
July 2009 11.32% 6,482 77.78% 44,549
April 2009 2.43% 1,376 63.69% 36,094
e • d  Summary of 28 November 2010 Parliament of Moldova election results in Gagauzia
Parties and coalitions Votes % +/−
Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova 34,224 59.97 −17.81
Democratic Party of Moldova 9,115 15,97 +10.09
Humanist Party of Moldova 3,722 6.52 +6.52
Social Democratic Party 3,686 6.46 -3.41
Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova 3,581 6.27 +4.99
Other Party 2,770 4.81 -0.38
Total (turnout 51.36%) 57,596 100.00


The base of the Gagauzian economy is agriculture, particularly viticulture. The main export products are wine, sunflower oil, non-alcoholic beverages, wool, leather and textiles. There are twelve wineries, processing over 400,000 tonnes annually. There are also two oil factories, two carpet factories, one meat factory, and one non-alcoholic beverages factory.


There are 451 kilometers of roads in Gagauzia, of which 82% are paved. Turkey loaned Moldova 35 million dollars to improve Gagauzia's road network.


According to January 1, 2011 census, Gagauzia had a population of 160,700, of which 40,4% urban and 59.6% rural population.

  • Births (2010): 2042 (12.7 per 1000)
  • Deaths (2010): 1868 (11.6 per 1000)
  • Growth Rate (2010): 174 (1.1 per 1000)

Ethnic composition

According to the 2004 census results, the ethnic breakdown in Gagauzia was:[8]

Ethnic group Population Percent of total
Gagauz 127,835 82.1%
Bulgarians 8,013 5.1%
Moldovans 7,481 4.8%
Russians 5,941 3.8%
Ukrainians 4,919 3.2%
Romanians 38 0.0%
Others 1,409 0.9%


There is an ongoing controversy over whether Romanians and Moldovans are the same ethnic group. At the census, every citizen could only declare one nationality. Consequently, one could not declare oneself both Moldovan and Romanian. The combined figure for Moldovans (Romanians) is 7,519 (4.85%).

Culture and education

Gagauzia has fifty-five schools, the Comrat Pedagogical College (high school+two years over high school), and Comrat State University (Universitatea de Stat din Comrat[9]). Turkey financed the creation of a Turkish cultural centre (Türk İşbirliği Ve Kalkınma İdaresi Başkanlığı) and a Turkish library (Atatürk Kütüphanesi). In the village of Beşalma, there is a Gagauz historical and ethnographical museum established by Dimitriy Kara Çöban.

Despite declaring Gagauz as the national language of the Autonomy, the local authorities do not provide any full Gagauz-teaching school, most of those are Russian-language as opposed to inner Moldovan full Romanian language education.[10] Although pupils are introduced to all four of the usual school languages (Russian, Romanian, English or French, Gagauz), the local language continues to be in last place.[11]

See also


Further reading

  • Shabashov A.V., 2002, Odessa, Astroprint, "Gagauzes: terms of kinship system and origin of the people", (Шабашов А.В., "Гагаузы: система терминов родства и происхождение народа")

External links

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